That didn’t take long.
Macon native Russell Henley won in his first event on the PGA Tour, rolling to a three-shot win Sunday at the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. The Stratford Academy graduate became the first player to win his PGA Tour debut since 2001 with a score of 24-under-par 256, breaking the tournament scoring record by four shots.
His four-round total was the second-lowest score for a 72-hole tournament in tour history, two shots behind Tommy Armour III at the Texas Open in 2003.
Henley birdied the final five holes for a final-round 63 to hold off the challenge of PGA Tour veteran Tim Clark.
“I don’t really even know what just happened,” Henley told the Golf Channel. “This is the most nervous I’ve ever been, and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Said Clark, "When you putt that good under pressure, the sky is the limit for him."
Henley earned a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour with the victory, meaning his tour status is safe regardless of how he plays during the next 24 months. He also earned an invitation to the Masters in April.
“It’s been my goal to make it to the Masters my whole life,” Henley said.
The 23-year-old now has won four professional events. He won three times — once as an amateur — on the Web.com Tour. He earned his PGA Tour card by finishing third on the Web.com Tour in 2012.
Henley told The Telegraph on Sunday he would play in the first six events of the season. He is scheduled to play in the Humana Challenge at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., this week.
In his most recent event on the PGA Tour, Henley got as high as tied for second at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club. He couldn’t hang on and fell off the leaderboard. He never left the leaderboard this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report