To say Sunday was an up-and-down round for Russell Henley at the 2014 Honda Classic would be an understatement. The 24-year-old American started off the final round well at even through nine holes and then dropped two strokes on the back nine with a pair of bogies, a pair of birdies and a double bogey before parring the final hole. That set up a four-man playoff between Ryan Palmer, Rory McIlroy, Russell Knox and Henley, which is where the impossible happened.
McIlroy had looked incredible until Sunday, when he finished four over his final round, but birdied the 18th to qualify for the playoff. Many believed the 24-year-old Irishman would regain that previous momentum for the win, but it was Henley who birdied the first playoff hole — a par five — for his fifth professional victory.
After missing the cut in four of his last nine tournaments, Henley held on and then really surprised everyone on the playoff hole. It’s that resiliency that should propel him to contend in the major tournaments this year and maybe even win one if he can stay consistent.
Obviously, winning like he did in Palm Beach on Sunday was great, but being able to even participate in the playoff hole was unlikely considering how poorly he played for most of the final round. “Poorly” could be substituted for “inconsistently” but the two adjectives are virtually interchangeable in golf.
Of course, we can’t talk about the 2014 Honda Classic without mentioning Tiger Woods, who withdrew himself after a dreadful start, which really sums up the first part of the season for the former World No. 1. Needless to say, Henley’s performance was something we were used to seeing from Woods before his 2009 Thanksgiving debacle, so who knows what to expect now?