Henley leads local group at U.S. Amateur

Russell Henley’s busy summer already has included one memorable trip to the West Coast for the U.S. Open.

He’ll cap the summer with another trip west for the U.S. Amateur, which will be played Monday-Saturday at Chambers Bay in Washington.

“I’m really excited about going to play, and I’m looking forward to playing that course,” Henley said last week about his first appearance in the U.S. Amateur. “I’ve never been to Washington, so that should be fun. It’s going to be an awesome trip.”

It certainly has been a terrific summer for Henley.

The rising Georgia senior and Macon native played in the NCAA championships in Tennessee and then qualified for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He finished tied for 16th and tied for the low amateur in the field.

He also played in the Palmer Cup, a Ryder Cup-type event for amateur players, in Ireland and the Porter Cup in Niagra Falls, among other events.

“I always want to go play against the best players,” Henley said. “Tournament experience always helps, and everything that I’ve been through this summer should definitely help this week.

“This is the last big event before I go back and play my last college season with Georgia, and that should be fun.”

The U.S. Amateur opens with a field of 312 players that will be cut to the top 64 after two days of stroke play. Those players then move on to single-elimination match play culminating in a 36-hole championship match.

Former Mercer player Bill Jones III and current Georgia College & State player Taylor Smith are also in the field.

“I know the format, and I’m looking forward to it,” said Henley, who has played in the U.S. Junior Amateur, which features the same format. “The last couple of rounds I’ve played, I’ve played really well. I’m striking the ball well and putting it well. Hopefully, I can take everything out there and put it together.”