AUGUSTA -- There were plenty of cheers of Lets go Russell and Go Dogs on Thursday in the first round of the Masters.
And right in the middle of that was Russell Henleys family and friends.
Taylor and Jon Adams, Hampton Vernon and Matthews Barnett were among the group of fans taking in Henleys day at Augusta National Golf Club. He finished with a round of 1-over-par 73, five shots behind leader Bill Haas.
Barnett used to attend the Masters with Henley when they were younger, along with Barnetts brother, Madison. Matthews Barnett went to Stratford and graduated the year before Henley.
Its pretty awesome, Barnett said. To realize we all used to come here and idolize the players here, and now hes playing here, its just hard to believe sometimes. But hes playing great, and he has proven he belongs out here.
Vernon also played for the Stratford golf team with Henley, and they won a couple of GISA titles. Vernon said he had known Henley since I was about 4 years old. The two of them graduated from Stratford the same year.
Ive known him my whole life, and we used to always joke about playing at the Masters, Vernon said. He was the reason we won two state titles, for sure. In college, you never know whats going to happen, but he took a step up from amateur golf to college, and then he took another step up when he got out here. And hes been ready for every step.
Henley is making his second appearance in the tournament. He missed the cut last year.
This year is different, Vernon said. Last year, was just so amazing with it being that first time with him here, and it was fun. It feels like hes supposed to be here ... like he belongs. But Im not surprised. This is what hes always wanted.
Taylor and Jon Adams went to FPD, and Taylor Adams said they met Henley through the Barnett family. Taylor Adams pointed to Henleys work ethic, which he said was evident years ago, for the success he has had, including two wins on the PGA Tour in his young career.
I was always trying to pull him away to go do something else, and hed say, No, I have to practice, Taylor Adams said. His work ethic has always been unbelievable, and he has the talent to go with it. Theres no doubt about that.
That work ethic always has included a focus on getting to the Masters. Henley achieved that last year when he shot rounds of 72-81 in his first appearance.
He enters this years second round tied for 27th, and he is playing with former Georgia teammate Harris English and Englishman Lee Westwood. Henleys parents and brother Adam were also in the gallery, along with Georgia golf head coach Chris Haack and many other Henley and Georgia fans.
Its wild. This place is so majestic, and the history of it is just overwhelming, Jon Adams said. And to know that a friend of yours is out here playing just blows you away. I remember practicing putting at Idle Hour one time, and he had a 15-foot putt, and he said, This is to win the Masters. And now, hes out here playing? Its unreal.
Henley certainly appreciated all the support. When he was asked how many Go Dogs he heard throughout Thursdays round, he said, I wish I had a dollar for every one. Id be a millionaire.
A quick look at Russell Henleys opening round at the Masters on Thursday.
* Henley fired a 1-over-par 73.
* He is tied for 27th, five shots behind leader Bill Haas.
* The round included one birdie, two bogeys and 15 pars.
* The birdie came on No. 15.
* The round finished with a par on No. 18 after a nice chip from off the green to set up a short putt to end the day.