COLUMBUS — Russell Henley couldn’t even call his lowest point of the day a low point.
The former Stratford standout and current Georgia junior can’t fathom having a low point when he’s around his brother, best friend and caddie Adam Henley.
So following a second consecutive bogey, the two brothers juggled back and forth some clubs on the back nine of the first round of the Georgia Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Columbus on Thursday. Russell Henley got a kick out of his older brother dropping a club.
“I really don’t get to spend a lot of time with him, so now we have four days together and that’s great,” Henley said. “Just hanging out with him is great, no matter how I play.”
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The connection provided moments of levity that kept Henley from dwelling on any bad shots. It also helped propel him to shoot 3 under for his final five holes to post a 2-under-par 69 for the round, placing him in a tie for eighth place. Henley is three shots back of UGA teammate Michael Green and a shot behind 2007 Georgia Amateur champion Harris English, another college teammate and the man that he beat by a shot to win the 2008 championship at Idle Hour Club.
“I hit the ball well, putted well, just made a few mistakes,” Henley said. “I really wanted to make sure I was under par for the day.”
Henley guaranteed that would be the case with a strong rally to close the round.
After three-putting from 15 feet on No. 11, Henley bounced back with two pars before sinking a birdie putt on the par-3 14th that got him back to even par for the day.
“That birdie really took some pressure off me,” Henley said.
That putt set the stage for his biggest shot of the day when Henley hit his second shot on the par-5 17th to within 20 feet of the hole. Moments later, Henley drained the eagle putt to push him to 2 under and back into the top 10.
“I really just wanted to take a two-putt, but sometimes they just go in,” Henley said. “That’s a very big way to end the day. You want something positive at the end of a round, something to build on.”
Henley’s up-and-down back nine contrasted his rock solid front side.
The 20-year-old made a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 1 but rattled off eight straight pars following to close his front nine.
It didn’t come without excitement, however, as Henley made great up-and-downs on Nos. 6 and 9.
He made a 12-foot putt on No. 6 to save par, and had a tough sand save on No. 9 to make par.
“I definitely didn’t get too comfortable,” Henley said. “I had to work for a lot of those pars.”