Russell Henley 'Got Chills' in First Masters Start

3:37 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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USA TODAY national sports columnist Mike Lopresti wrote this story for 13wmaz.com:

By Mike Lopresti
USA TODAY

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Every Masters rookie faces this moment. So let Russell Henley describe what it was like before the first official shot of his life at Augusta National.

"I walked on the tee and just got chills," he said

Thursday. "Everybody clapping, it just kind of hit me all of a sudden that I'm here. It brought back memories of standing outside the ropes, looking at guys getting announced. It was kind of like, `Whoa, I'm the one inside now, and I've made it.'

"I had to fight off a few tears, but I did."

Then he drove into the bunker and ended up with a bogey on No. 1 Oh, well.

Nearly five hours later, the Georgia native from Macon rolled in a 40-foot putt to save par on No. 18. In his first Masters round, Henley fought Augusta National to a draw, with an even par 72.

That, despite missing several makeable putts.

"I'm hitting the ball great," he said. "So I feel great about my game."

Henley began a tad wobbly, going bogey-bogey. "A little nervy at the start," he said. But when he saved par on No. 3, he was back to the solid player who won the Sony Open in January in only his third official start on the PGA Tour, and first as a pro.

Birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 pulled him to even par. He birdied the par-5 No. 15 when his second shot hit a tree and helpfully bounced into the fairway. "I'm going to take all the breaks I can get," he said. He bogeyed No. 17 and drove into the trees on No. 18. But the 40-footer from the bottom of the green to the top made for a pleasant ending.

"I could barely see it go in," he said. "I hit it into the trees and I just kept telling myself and over and over, 'I really want to make par.' Right before I walked up to my putt, I said, 'I really want to make this putt.' I was just trying to reinforce some positive thoughts. When I do that, seems like more things happen good than not."

It been a short night and an early start, with an 8:11 a.m. tee time, playing with fellow Georgian Larry Mize and Brian Gay. And his sleep had hardly been sound. "I always wake up a lot when I've got a 5:15 alarm," he said.

But 72 will do fine for a start. "The adrenaline's kind of gone away," he said. "I'm ready to get back out there tomorrow."
Probably no chills from standing on the No. 1 tee Friday. Or maybe there will be. It's Russell Henley's 24th birthday.

His scorecard:

1st: 5, bogey

2nd: 6, bogey

3rd: 4, par

4th: 3, par

5th: 4, par

6th: 3, par

7th: 4, par

8th: 4, birdie

9th: 3, birdie

10th: 4, par

11th: 4, par

12th: 3, par

13th: 5, par

14th: 4, par

15th: 5, birdie

16th: 3, par

17th: 5, bogey

18th: 4, par

USA Today

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