GW Monday: UGA's Henley picks up pro title
From this week's edition of Golf World Monday:
What did Russell Henley have to lose? That's what the Georgia All-American kept asking himself down the stretch at the Nationwide Tour's Stadion Classic.
The 22-year-old from Macon, Ga., was playing on his home course, the University of Georgia GC, after getting in the field by carrying the lowest average on the Bulldog squad. Having parlayed his local knowledge into a share of the 54-hole lead with Troy Kelly, Henley knew he'd have the support of a partisan crowd, something Georgia coach Chris Haack said the senior who graduates Friday thrives on ("It helps calm him down, seeing familiar faces in the crowd," said Haack).
So Henley, who finished T-16 at last year's U.S. Open, stayed aggressive and rode the cheers to a closing 68, a 12-under 272 and a two-stroke victory over Kelly. As the second amateur to claim a Nationwide title, Henley had to pass on the $99,000 first prize. Unlike Daniel Summerhays in 2007, however, Henley says he will also turn down the tour exemption he's afforded should he turn pro in the next 60 days (he'll take it instead in 2012).
"I've got goals in pro golf," Henley told Golf World Monday, "but right now I've got an amateur goal and that's playing in the Walker Cup [this September]." Call it a hunch, but we think Henley has clinched his spot on the U.S. squad.
-- Ryan Herrington
(Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images)