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Berry Henson: Part-time Uber driver, full-time journeyman ready for ride of a lifetime at U.S. Open

LOS ANGELES – Berry Henson is this U.S. Open’s version of Johnny Cash.

He’s been everywhere.

Ask the 43-year-old Henson to list the tours he’s played on since turning professional two decades ago and he’ll rattle off a set list that would make Led Zeppelin tired: PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, Challenge Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Tour, Korean Tour, Sunshine Tour, Canadian Tour, Hooters Tour, eGolf Tour, Golden State Tour, Pepsi Tour, National Pro Tour, and certainly a handful of others that he’s forgotten about.

“I think the only tour I haven’t played is the Latin America Tour,” Henson said. “That’s, I guess, the definition of a journeyman.”

Full-field tee times from U.S. Open

So, how did this journeyman make it to the U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club? By Uber, you could say.

Henson’s point of origin is just up the road in Thousand Oaks, where he was born. He attended high school in Palm Desert (he was teammates with U.S. Junior champ Jason Allred and current Pepperdine coach Michael Beard), college at San Diego and now resides in Rancho Mirage. When he was 18, he got a job at Marriott Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert to fund his golf career, which he began professionally in 2003, and worked there for 15 years, earning a pin for his decade-and-a-half of service.

When it comes to California, Henson has never left. Well, considering Henson’s globetrotting ways, kind of. Back in 2011, Henson had just missed at Q-School for the seventh time. He was down to his last sponsor and just $5,000 in his bank account when one of his financial backers threw a dart.

“Should we go to Asia?” the backer, Marshall McComb, asked Henson, who now lives in Prachaubkirikhan, Thailand, where he plays out of Black Mountain Golf Club, about nine months out of the year.

“It was sink or swim,” Henson says.

And Henson swam. In his fourth Asian Tour start that year, he won in the Philippines. He’s since posted 28 other worldwide top-10s, including three runners-up and three thirds, and reached as high as No. 296 in the world rankings. He enters his major debut No. 444 after getting through the 36-hole final qualifier in Summit, New Jersey, last week.

“I’m a grinder,” Henson said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 something years. I feel like I have that type of mentality. I make a lot of pars. I can get up-and-down from the trash can. I don’t get down on myself and just enjoy what the course gives me.”

When Henson was younger, he set two goals for himself: Play a tournament at St. Andrews and qualify for a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He’s now competed in two Dunhill Links, and his Pebble wish came before LACC was awarded this championship.

Entering this dream week, Henson is well rested – at least from a competition standpoint.

“I was telling my team this week that it’s kind of been like having the lead for seven days straight,” Henson said of the time period since punching his U.S. Open ticket at Canoe Brook. “Haven’t been sleeping that good.”

Other than his qualifier, though, he hasn’t teed it up since mid-April, when he played an International Series event in Vietnam. He took a vacation to Cabo with his dad during one of those weeks. The rest have been spent training and dieting (he’s lost a little bit of body fat), dialing in a few parts of his swing (he’s gotten considerably longer over the years), sharpening his mind, and perfecting that deft short game with coach Ron Dizinno.

“I can’t say enough about him because that’s how I got in the U.S. Open,” Henson said.

Oh, and plenty of rides. Yes, Henson moonlights as an Uber driver, a part-time job he started when he injured his wrist in 2016, but one he kept because he enjoyed it so much. He has logged around 3,000 rides.

And his rating? A sparkling 4.99.

Those who know him well would expect nothing less from the “Hensonater,” Henson’s nickname since freshman year of college because, as Henson reckons, he’s just a fun guy who likes to joke around and keep things loose.

The “Hensonator” will have quite the gallery over these next, hopefully, six days. He’s already played a couple practice rounds with Phil Mickelson. He had his own press conference on Monday.

What a way to begin one’s major career.

And perhaps this crazy ride isn’t done.

“I feel like, yeah, I’m kind of starting my journey,” Henson said. “I don’t know, it sounds weird, 43, starting your journey, but I’ve never given up. I’ve always tried to get 1% better. That’s kind of been our motto. That’s the road I’m on right now, and it just happened a little bit later.”