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Russell Henley: ‘I thought I’d won’ with putt on 72nd hole before Sony Open playoff loss

Russell Henley was 2 inches from bucking his 54-hole lead trend and ending a winless drought that goes back to the 2017 Shell Houston Open.

In the final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, the 32-year-old held a strong lead over the event’s eventual winner, Hideki Matsuyama, making the turn to the back nine. However, Matsuyama kept inching closer to Henley’s lead and on the 72nd hole, it was down to one.

Matsuyama smashed his tee shot on the par-5 18th 338 yards en route to making birdie and despite Henley’s tee shot landing in the right fairway bunker, he still had a 10-foot putt for birdie that would have notched him his fourth PGA Tour victory. But the putt brutally kissed the right of the cup and fell 2 inches from the hole to Henley’s disbelief and, alas, he would fall on the first playoff hole to last year’s Masters winner.

“I thought I’d won the tournament,” Henley said following the final round. “Thought I hit a great putt. Happy with how I hit that putt despite my poor tee shot. You know, tough to be that in the playoff, but I thought I had him after regulation.”

Henley now is the second player ever on Tour to shoot a 65 in the final round after holding a 54-hole lead and not win. Abraham Ancer was the first at the 2020 RBC Heritage, according to statistician Justin Ray. Last season, Henley shared the lead after Day 3 of the CJ Cup, U.S. Open and the Wyndham Championship but couldn’t seal the deal.

Full-field scores from the Sony Open in Hawaii

Adding the Sony Open to that list is a bitter pill to swallow for Henley, but knowing he did everything he could to win, he’ll look towards the future. That putt, however, will still sting.

“I gave myself a putt on No. 18 to win the golf tournament,” he said. “I hit a great putt. So looking back at the start of every week, if you can say you did that despite whatever happened, it’s a really good week on the PGA Tour. I’ll take a lot of confidence from that.

“I’m really still scratching my head on how I missed that. It was really close to going in. I was close to getting a win. So tough to swallow, but Hideki played great all day and happy for him.”