SAN FRANCISCO — Russell Henley would celebrate his 16th-place finish at the U.S. Open in an ideal world.
The 21-year-old would return to Macon to see his friends and bask in the glory of accomplishing a top-20 finish in the U.S. Open, something only three other people have done in the previous 30 years.
Henley, however, has little time to celebrate.
He left San Francisco on Monday morning on a flight bound for Northern Ireland to compete in the Palmer Cup, one of college golf’s versions of the Ryder Cup.
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“I’m really excited about the Palmer Cup,” Henley said. “One of my goals was making the team, and I’m excited about representing the U.S.”
Henley will team up with Illinois’ Scott Langley, the golfer with whom he tied for low amateur at the U.S. Open, and six other players including highly rated David Chung of Stanford.
Augusta State’s Henrik Norlander is one of those representing the European team.
Following the Palmer Cup, Henley will return to Georgia to compete in the Dogwood Invitational in late June. Georgia teammates Brian Harmon and Hudson Swafford have won the prestigious tournament in recent years.
He’ll play in the Southern Amateur Championship at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala., and at the Porter Cup in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Henley will compete in the U.S. Amateur Championship in August at Chambers Bay outside of Tacoma, Wash. The 21-year-old qualified for the tournament by making the U.S. Open.
The Georgia junior also gets an exemption to a Nationwide Tour event at some point this summer after being named a first team All American. He could also play in the Western Amateur outside of Chicago.
“I just excited about some of the tournaments this summer,” Henley said. “The (U.S. Amateur) is one I’m looking forward to.”
Henley has tried to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in previous years but hasn’t been able to make it out of the qualifying stage. The winner and runner-up of the tournament gets exemptions into the Masters and the U.S. Open.
Henley said while he gained some confidence this week at Pebble Beach Golf Links, he feels like he can play better and improve more this summer.
“My consistency, tee-to-green and putting just wasn’t there,” Henley said, “I played well, but it wasn’t all there. I have a lot of golf left this summer.”
Henley maintains that he won’t turn professional until after the Walker Cup in September 2011.