MORE INTERVIEWS: Sony Open in Hawaii transcripts archive
DAVE SENKO: Russell, 67 today, 3‑under, another bogey‑free round and a birdie at 18 to grab a share of the lead. Maybe some thoughts on your day.
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, I had a good range session and felt good, and then just was a little bit off, didn't feel quite as comfortable today as the last two days with the game, but knew I was putting well enough to hang in there and make some pars and maybe sneak a birdie in there. I just wasn't hitting it as close to the hole as I wanted to. I hung in there as tough as I could and was happy to get one at the last. So it feels good to end with that one.
Q. What do you balance maybe not making as many birdies as you wanted to today but having no bogeys since Thursday basically?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, I'm not‑‑ a lot of good par saves, and those are going to make me sleep a little bit better. You know, like I said, I didn't feel quite as good, and to come out with no bogeys is something that's just going to be real helpful for tomorrow and my confidence, to know that I didn't have it completely and still came through with a pretty good score.
Q. You mentioned being geared up for a potential hurricane here. What was it like when that didn't happen, and did it help your confidence a lot, and also along those same lines, the rough being shorter than it usually is here, you may have heard about that, and did that help, also, as far as being aggressive on the course?
RUSSELL HENLEY: You know, the first day it blew a little bit harder than the last two. It feels like it's gotten lighter and lighter every day. I came Sunday and I was putting and the balance was rolling off the green, gusting like 40. To go from that to lighter and lighter every day definitely gets your confidence going, because I knew‑‑ I was playing the course pretty good when the wind was blowing pretty hard, so I knew that I was playing some good golf, flighted the ball well. So it was definitely‑‑ definitely made it feel easier.
Q. You're here with the Hawaiian element. Do you feel any certain strategy when you're choosing your clubs because of the surf and the air and the wind here?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, the wind is a little thicker. You know, it's a little more humid here, and coming off the water it's going to be a little thicker, knock the ball down a little bit more.
You know, today I think the pins were a little bit harder, so I tried to obviously stay to the fat side of the green and take a little bit less club to roll the ball to the hole, and I did that good sometimes and bad sometimes.
But yeah, the course is just getting firmer and firmer, and you've just got to adjust to the conditions the best you can.
Q. Does it help to be playing with Scott a fourth day tomorrow, just to have that same familiar feel of‑‑
RUSSELL HENLEY: I'll tell you tomorrow when we get done. I don't know. No, I think it is. I'm excited. You know, I think win this tournament or not, it's already been a very successful week. Obviously I've played great golf, and I feel like I can compete out here. And I think when somebody gets confidence like that, or at least when I get confidence like that, then I know I can compete. It lets me get out of my way a little bit.
It's a long year. Whatever happens tomorrow is going to happen, and I'm going to learn from it and take it away as a positive no matter what because I've been playing some great golf, and I can only learn and get better after this tournament.
Q. Why did you bail on the pros versus Joes trip this past year?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Oh, well, I'll tell you why if you want a serious answer. I pretty much had traveled 27 weeks up to that point, and then I went to PGA TOUR orientation, and then the next week I went to Chris Haack's induction to the Hall of Fame in Vegas, so it was back and forth across the country, and then they wanted me to come three days later after I got back from that. Then I have to take two flights from Charleston to get down there, and now they're giving me a hard time for it. It's not even fair. Give me like four days at home. If I hadn't been traveling so much, I would have loved to get down there and play with John Huh and all those guys. But hopefully next year.
Q. Have you guys ever competed against each other? Scott couldn't think of a time. College, anything.
RUSSELL HENLEY: You mean me and‑‑ what do you mean? Oh, no, uh‑huh, I don't think so.
Q. Could you have imagined you guys playing together all four days when you teed it up Thursday?
RUSSELL HENLEY: No. A month ago I was at Q‑school orientation, and Scott just got done with Q‑school and I gave him a ride to the airport. We had lunch and I was telling him how awesome it was I was on the PGA TOUR. This is kind of like a dream. It's weird. It's like I'm not awake. It's just kind of very weird.
Q. You gave him a ride to the airport after orientation?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah. He was going to take a cab, and I said I had a car, so just hop in. So I gave him a ride.
Q. Do you feel like you're setting a standard for rookies on the TOUR?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Um, I don't know about that. There's been a lot of great rookie play. Hopefully I've had some kind of influence, positive influence on somebody. But I think there's been a lot of great rookies play a lot of great golf. I don't know how much it's going to be.
RUSSELL HENLEY: Yeah, well, hopefully I'll win. I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. I guess we're kind of setting a good example.
The reason I think I'm a little more comfortable out here is I watched Harris, my teammate from Georgia, play all year last year and make a lot of money and play really, really well, and you know, it's only in my nature to want to come out here and be with him and play with him because I played with him for so long. I've got a lot of guys I've looked up to and hopefully somebody is looking at me right now saying I played with him in college, hopefully I can do that, too.
Q. Is there concern that you might wake up tomorrow?
RUSSELL HENLEY: Probably‑‑ it's probably going to be the same deal I've got a feeling. Like I said earlier, win or lose, I'm not really too stressed out about the outcome, honestly. I feel like‑‑ I feel a lot less stressed than normal in this situation for some reason, just because I'm having so much fun, and I know it's going to be a positive either way.
Q. I am incredibly impressed with your mental attitude. Have you had a mental coach, a mental game coach?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I've had a lot of good people around me. Chris Haack at Georgia and Jim Douglas and Jason Payne, all coaches at Georgia, definitely helped me out a lot with that. They didn't make me do any mental work or anything, but just the way they preached how to play the game kind of stuck with me, having fun and enjoying it, and I've got some great parents at home, too, and I have some great friends. It all leads to good perspective for me, and I'm really enjoying it.
Q. We talked about the wind a little earlier, and the rough is lower than it usually is here, and I know you don't really have anything to compare it to from previous times here, but knowing that going in, did that help your confidence at all, too, and help you be more aggressive?
RUSSELL HENLEY: I didn't know about the rough, like you said. Some spots it's worse than others. But every time I hit it in the rough the first day, I was able to hit it out towards the green. Once I did that‑‑ I think I did that twice in the first couple holes, the first six holes or so, that gave me a little bit of confidence knowing I didn't have to be so perfect because a lot of times it feels like you do on this stage, I guess, and loosened me up a little bit for sure.