Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 14, 2013

Macon's Henley wins Sony Open at 24-under par



He even scolded his caddie when he told him, on the 18th green, “When you make this, come over and give me a hug, all right?"

“I said, ‘Shut up, we’re not done playing golf yet,’” Henley recalled with a grin. “That was just kind of … I wouldn’t say discipline, but how determined I was to stay in the present and not let up and keep attacking until I got done. I don’t remember the rest.”

When he walked out of the scoring tent, he finally began to feel his legs again, and knew his life would never be the same. In large part, that was because of his struggles early last year, that he transformed into a spectacular streak that shows no signs of abating.

“For me, it ( Tour) is everything,” Henley said. “Not everybody needs the experience before they get out here, but for me it’s probably the best thing for my golf game I’ve ever had to do. Learn to travel, learn what worked for me, learn how many practice rounds I need, depending on the course, learn how much sleep I need to get.  

“I got used to the flow of a tournament, early-late, late-early, all those things are pretty big, and I learned at the very start, about the first 13 weeks, what didn't work. I played pretty awful in my opinion.  I think I made like 15 grand, and the last 10 or 12 weeks was huge for me.”

Henley became the first rookie to win his first start as a member in 12 years and the first to win here in his first attempt since Bruce Lietzke in 1977.

He is the ninth golfer to make this tournament his first victory, a list that starts with Hawaii’s Ted Makalena in 1966 and had ended with Jerry Kelly in 2002 — until Sunday. Henley is also the youngest to win at Waialae.

His victory makes him exempt the rest of this year and 2014 and 2015. It also gets him into the Masters.

After what he did Sunday, who could keep him out?

“When he made that putt (on 17), I’m thinking, ‘Wow, this would be pretty special to be watching,’” Clark recalled. “Well, obviously I was watching it.  But yeah, it's just nice to see. People come out here to see birdies and see exciting golf.”

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