Peach State Sports Blog

SHIRLEY: Henley in a good place entering Masters

Henley in a good place entering Masters

AUGUSTA -- Russell Henley is in a good place with his game, and that’s always positive entering a major.

And nowhere is that more important than at golf’s first major of the year: the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

The tournament begins Thursday, and Henley is in good shape for it to get going.

The former Stratford and Georgia standout was in contention last week at the Houston Open, finishing fourth. He missed the playoff that eventually was won by J.B. Holmes by two shots after shooting in the 60s all four days of the tournament.

“It does help my confidence,” Henley said of last week’s showing. “Last week, I had a great attitude, and with me, if I can control my emotions and have a good attitude, I can have a good opportunity to play well. I feel like that’s a big thing out there; it’s going to be a shot or two a day, and if I can just hold it together, that’s a big key for me.”

Henley has kept things together quite well this season. He has recorded three top-five finishes and has made the cut in every event he has played. Recently, he said his goal this season was to make his bad play pretty good, and he has accomplished that, avoiding wild swings in play.

That consistency marks a big step forward in his career. And if he continues to put himself in contention to win tournaments, it won’t be long before he adds to his two career PGA Tour wins.

Is winning the next step at Augusta National? Well, it certainly would be nice to see the Macon native win, but maybe that’s not the next step. Henley is playing in just his third Masters, and he made the cut for the first time last year, finishing tied for 31st (he missed the cut in 2013).

So the next step is to get into contention on the weekend and have his name somewhere on the leaderboard in the final two rounds. In his first appearance in the tournament, Henley played well in the first round with an even-par 72, but he struggled in the second round with an 81.

Last year, he was at 1 under entering the weekend after rounds of 73-70 to open the tournament. On the weekend, he shot 75-75 to end up at 5 over. That’s not bad, but that’s not what Henley is looking for.

What he’s looking for is getting into the hunt on the weekend and giving the many friends and family members who will be following him plenty to cheer for. And it’s not that far-fetched to think he can do that.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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