Henley leads and breaks a record in PGA Tour debut


Henley leads and breaks a record in PGA Tour debut

HONOLULU (AP) Russell Henley still remembers the celebration, even though the party had been in the works for more than a month. His family was with him when he finished the Tour season at No. 3 on the money list to earn a spot in the big leagues.

``It was just kind of like, `Wow! I just got my PGA Tour card.' You hope eventually one day you'll make it out here,'' Henley said Friday.

He showed up at the Sony Open for his rookie debut without any expectations except to play the same way he did on the Tour, where he won three times in two years, one of them while still in school at Georgia. His goal was to use this year to learn and improve.

And after two days?


Henley opened with a 7-under 63, one shot behind fellow rookie and good friend Scott Langley. He followed that Friday with seven birdies, no bogeys and another 63. That not only gave him a two-shot lead over Langley and Scott Piercy, it gave Henley the 36-hole scoring record at the Sony Open with a 14-under 126.

Not bad for his second day on the job.

The last rookie to win his PGA Tour debut was Garrett Willis at the Tucson Open in 2001, played that year opposite the winners-only Mercedes Championships at Kapalua. The Sony Open is far different - the first full-field of the PGA Tour season, which included five Ryder Cup players from Medinah.

The tournament is only at the halfway point, but the rookies are taking over, even if most of the players don't know who they are.

``It's Russell something and Langley? I think Russell won when he was in college, right?'' Piercy said. ``Hey, they're playing well. I think I played in five final groups as a rookie and didn't come through. There's a learning curve. But maybe their curve is quicker than mine.''

The first tournament can be an awkward time for the rookies. They don't know a lot of the older players. Henley, for example, went into the dining room earlier this week and saw an older player sitting by himself. He didn't join him because he simply didn't know his habits - maybe he preferred eating by himself. This is not a time to make introductions, rather to sit back and soak it all in.

On the golf course, it's a different story.

It helped that Henley and Langley played in the same group for the first two days. There's a comfort level, and it showed. They became fast friends after sharing low amateur honors at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open, and then sitting next to each other on the long flight to Royal Portrush for the Palmer Cup.

Langley opened with a 62 and followed that with a 66, the kind of score that usually keeps someone in the lead. This time, he was two shots behind, and he's lucky it wasn't more. Henley kept making birdies, and Langley was four shots back at one point until he made birdies on his last three holes.

``It's never easy to back up a really good round, I kind of got off to a little slower start,'' Langley said. ``But it was certainly nice to finish the way I did and kind of get back in it with Russ. He played so well, and I was just trying to keep pace as much as I can. To finish that way was really good.''

Piercy played in the afternoon and made eagle on the 18th hole at the turn as he tried to catch up to Henley, only to get slowed on his back nine. He had to settle for a 64 and will join the kids in the final group Saturday.

Matt Kuchar made eagle on his last hole for a 63 and was another shot behind at 11-under 129. Chris Kirk had the low round Friday at 62 and was in the group at 130 that included Tim Clark (66) and Charles Howell III (64).

That the scores were low - six players had a 63 or better Friday - was no surprise. Oahu hasn't received much rain over the last several months, and in tropical sunshine, the fairways were running fast and the greens were pure. And for those coming over from a windy week on Maui, it truly felt like paradise.

``Coming from last week, it feels really easy out there,'' Kuchar said. ``This course, as simple as it seems, it's one of the tougher courses on tour. If you're not playing well, you're going to make some bogeys. ... I understand the wind is supposed to really die down over the weekend, so I certainly expect low scoring. The course is in great shape, greens are beautiful, so there's going to be a lot more birdies and foot has definitely got to be down on the pedal.''

Dustin Johnson won't get a chance to match Ernie Els as the only players to sweep the two Hawaii events. Johnson, who won last week at Kapalua, withdrew after playing nine holes because of the flu.

``I feel like I'm coming down with whatever my caddie's got,'' said Johnson, who was 3 over at the turn. ``Just not feeling well. Stomach hurts, headache, tired.''

Pat Perez, equipped with a new attitude, had a 63 and was five shots behind.

Perez has decided to abandon his Twitter account because of all the comments he reads, instead promoting his Facebook account. His goal is to have fun on Facebook by poking fun at adages and cliches.

``For example, when people say they're on cloud nine. What's cloud nine? There is no such thing,'' Perez said.

Try telling that to Henley or Langley.

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This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat


This Caps Stanley Cup tattoo has everyone's beat

Since the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time over one month ago, Caps fans, (and players), have rushed to their local tattoo parlor to get some ink commemorating the win.

We've seen the classic Capitals logo with the Stanley Cup, but nothing that comes close to the masterpiece that is Shane Peacher's tattoo.

Peacher tweeted to Joe B and Courtney Laughlin the finished tat: a work of art featuring Alex Ovechkin kissing the Stanley Cup for the first time as it's hoisted over his head.

Joe B replied making sure Shane had enough room on his other tricep for next year.

Shane replied that he's thinking of Evgeny Kuznetsov's iconic celebration that has since been dubbed the "birdman."

Shane got his Caps tattoo at the Helix Tattoo Lodge in Rising Sun, Maryland, by tattoo artist, Justin Holcombe.


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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

USA Today Sports Images

Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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