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Golf

Humana Challenge Player in Focus: Russell Henley

Jake Roth-US Presswire

The new PGA Tour season is just two weeks old and already a brilliant new talent has emerged by the name of Russell Henley (pictured) . The 23 year old American has transferred his form on the Web.com Tour to the main Tour and this player already looks a future major champion.

In his last four events on the feeder Tour at the back end of 2012, Henley won twice and also finished third on two occasions. Both his wins came after a playoff and on each occasion he holed a clutch putt of more than 15 feet to qualify for extra holes.

Henley played alongside Scott Langley in each round of the Sony Open last week. They were tied as leading amateurs in the 2010 US Open and have become close friends. Langley is another player who appears to have a great future in the game but he was overshadowed by Henley in Hawaii.

This week’s Player in Focus began the Sony Open with two rounds of 63. A third round of 67 kept him at the top of the leaderboard but then he really shone in the final round. He was long and accurate from the tee and never hinted that the magnitude of the situation would get to him.

Henley’s excellent tournament was completed in wonderful style. He birdied each of the last five holes, holing putts of at least 12 feet on every green on that part of the course. Tim Clark kept holing his birdie putts but Henley always responded to keep the margin between the players at three shots.

Henley will now get an invite to play in the US Masters in April. Given a decent week on the challenging greens, Henley could become the first debutant to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. This boy is that good and ability allied to a sound temperament makes him a definite contender at Augusta this spring.

In the context of this week’s Humana Challenge, Henley may feel some mental letdown after the demands of last week. His immediate playing future is now assured and his world ranking position will get him into the majors and World Golf Championship events.

The key skills on the three resort courses in California that host this pro-am event are driving accuracy and birdie conversion. Henley has excelled in these areas during his run of form on the feeder and main Tour. No player has ever won his first two tournaments as a PGA Tour member but Henley has the ability to do just that.