Henley set to launch career on PGA Tour

sports@macon.comJanuary 7, 2013 

Golfer Russell Henley has picked a pretty nice place to begin his career as an official member of the PGA tour. He is in Honolulu this week for the Sony Open at the Waialae Country Club.

The former Stratford star, Georgia All-American and 2010 College Golfer of the Year is coming off an outstanding year on the Web.com Tour, where he earned an invitation to the PGA Tour as one of the Web.com Tour’s top 25 money winners. Henley won two Web.com tournaments in 2012, the Chiquita Classic in Cincinnati in September and the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open three weeks later, helping him accumulate more than $400,000 in earnings. That was third best on the tour behind Casey Wittenberg ($433,000) and Luke Guthrie ($410,000).

The two wins were actually the second and third for Henley on the Web.com Tour. He had won the 2011 Stadia Classic while still an amateur playing on the Georgia men’s golf team.

In addition to his success on the Web.com Tour, he made the cut at both the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Opens. In 2010 at Pebble Beach, he finished tied for 16th, which tied him for low amateur honors, and in 2011 he placed 42nd at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

Henley’s schedule is basically set for the first 6-8 weeks. He said he plans to play 3-4 weeks in a row and then take a week off. His goals are simple: to continue to get better and keep his tour card.

Something called the PGA’s reshuffle plays prominently in the plans of Henley and 23 other 2012 Web.com players who advanced to the tour (Wittenberg, the Web.com’s top money winner last year, is exempt), as well as 25 players who got their card through qualifying school.

PGA touring pro Scott Stallings explained the reshuffle in a blog post on his website. According to the post, Web.com and Q-school qualifiers are ranked at the start of the year based on how a player finished the previous year. After a tournament has been filled with past winners and the top 125 players from the previous year’s money list, then the Web.com and Q-school qualifiers fill the rest of the slots in order according to their ranking.

About every eight weeks, Stallings wrote, the PGA Tour looks at the list of players and reshuffles it according to how much money the players have made so far. The reshuffle list sets the priority for which of the 49 players play in PGA Tour events. If a player has played well enough, there is no need to worry because his standing won’t change much.

Henley has a group of people he calls on for help with his game, but he says it is never anything too technical as he usually can figure out his problems on the golf course. He works with Charles Frost, an assistant golf professional at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., and longtime Idle Hour professional Bobby Hix. He said he also calls on Peter Persons, who spent time on the PGA Tour in the early 1990’s, and his college golf coach, Chris Haack, for advice.

He said his strong finish on the Web.com tour in 2012 was because he gained a lot of confidence by playing with professionals at Quail Hollow.

His brother, Adam, worked as his caddie for part of 2012, but now he has Todd Gjesdold on his bag. Gjesdold, who is from Pebble Beach, Calif., has more than 20 years of experience in the caddie profession, which should prove to be an asset to Henley.

If Henley’s previous track record is any indication, he should be in for a long and successful stay on the PGA Tour.

Contact Bobby Pope at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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