Henley to play in Nationwide event

Russell Henley said he doesn’t plan to think about turning pro until after graduating from Georgia, so a professional career in golf is at least a year away for the Stratford product.

But Henley and Georgia teammate Harris English will get a chance to showcase their games against professionals this week in the Nationwide Tour’s Stadion Athens Classic at UGA starting today. And the two Georgia standouts plan to make the most of their opportunity.

“It should be exciting playing against those pros and comparing my game against them,” Henley said. “I’m not going there just to make the cut. I’m better than that. In my mind, I’m going to win, and I know Harris is thinking the same way. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”

Henley and English have plenty of reason for their optimism.

Henley is the nation’s top-ranked college player, and he won the SEC championship earlier this month, his third win of the season. The two also led the Bulldogs to the team SEC title, and they will be playing this week on their home course.

“Getting to play in Athens is going to be fun,” English said. “We rarely get to play in front of our own fans. Hopefully, we can go out and play well in front of the Georgia people and give them a show.”

Henley has a busy spring in front of him. In addition to this week’s tournament, Henley will take part in the NCAA regionals May 20-22, and the NCAA championship tournament is set for June 2-5.

Also, Henley has been chosen for the United States team that will compete in the 2010 Palmer Cup at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. The annual Ryder Cup-style competition between collegians from the United States and Europe will be played June 24-26.

“It should be a good experience,” Henley said of this week’s tournament. “I know Harris and I are both looking forward to it, and it’s going to be fun playing in front of our fans on our home course.”