AUGUSTA, Ga. >> Sony Open in Hawaii champion Russell Henley overcame a case of nerves to shoot an even-par 72 in today’s opening round of the Masters.
After bogeying the first two holes, Henley, who will turn 24 tomorrow, parred the next five, before closing the front nine with back-to-back birdies.
“I was a little nervy at the beginning, but I feel so good about my game,” Henley said. “I’m excited because I’m putting the ball so well. I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow.”
The South Carolina resident by way of the University of Georgia parred the next five, including the difficult holes of Amen Corner. On the par-5 15th, his second shot hit a pine tree, but found the fairway about 100 yards from the hole. No problem; he landed his third shot about 15 feet from the pin and rolled it in for birdie to go 1 under for his round.
A three-putt bogey at the 17th, and an errant tee shot at the final hole, left him in danger of ending his round the same way he began it — with back-to-back bogeys. But he rolled in a beautiful 45-footer to save par and remain in contention.
“I was so far away, I didn’t even see it go in,” Henley said. “I wanted to par that hole so badly. It was a good way to finish.”
Henley was tied for 25th after signing his scorecard. He will tee off in the afternoon tomorrow.
Henley won his first start as an official member of the PGA Tour at the Sony Open in January. He became the first player since 2001 to accomplish that feat. His 24-under-par finish of 256 was the best in Sony Open history and tied for the third-lowest in PGA history. He captured three Web.com Tour events, including one as an amateur.