Russell Henley wins Honda playoff
Russell Henley was able to outlast Rory McIlroy, Russell Knox and Ryan Palmer on Sunday at PGA National to win the 2014 Honda Classic.
Rory McIlroy came into Sunday with a two-shot lead over Russell Henley and all day it just seemed like Rory didn’t have it all together. The lead got to three shots at certain points, but it never got any larger than that and towards the end of the back nine, Rory just couldn’t close it out. Fortunately for him, none of the main contenders seemed to be doing much of anything to distance themselves either. Russell Knox appeared to take himself out first:
Russell Henley looked to get things on track on the 14th when he chipped in for birdie, but then on the next hole:
Ryan Palmer was actually going along pretty steady for most of the final round, but didn’t get out in front at any point. On 18, Palmer had a short four footer for birdie to get to 9-under par, but he ended up sending it about five feet past the hole, opening the door for the others. Knox was able to get in at 8-under par as well, but Rory was really still in the drivers seat. That’s when he did this on the 16th:
With that, Rory looked needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to get into the playoff with Knox and Palmer. With his second shot into the green, he hit what could be the best shot of the year so far in 2014.
Henley was able to get in at 8-under par as well, ensuring the four-way playoff. Three of the four players were able to go for the 18th green in two shots in the playoff, with Knox being the only one who had to layup. Palmer went left of the green, while Rory went long and into the bunker and with Knox already laying up, the advantage was Henley’s and he made the most of it. He was able to get it on the green and two putt for the win.
- 1. Russell Henley -8 *wins in playoff*
- T2. Rory McIlroy -8
- T2. Russell Knox -8
- T2. Ryan Palmer -8
What The Win Means For Henley
After winning in Hawaii last year, Henley didn’t have the best of runs. Yeah, he had three top-10’s last year after that win, but 2014 had not been kind to Henley to date, with his best finish being a solo 27th at the Tournament of Champions, which was only a 30-man field. Henley moves into the top-50 in the OWGR, and will be heading back to the Masters, which is a big deal for anyone, but perhaps even more important for a Georgia boy like Henley.
He also joins Rory, Harris English and Patrick Reed as the only players with multiple PGA Tour wins at 25 years of age or younger.
What The Loss Means For McIlroy
Honestly, I don’t think it means all that much and here’s why: After his round, Rory stopped to talk to Roger Maltbie, and he mentioned that even if he won, he wouldn’t have felt all that good about it based on the way he played on Sunday. That tells me that he’s got the right mindset, and realistically, he played great for two rounds and then had two that didn’t go his way. The swing looks great, and the results are getting better and better. He’s just fine.
After a third round 65 that appeared to give him a tiny sliver of a chance to force the leader’s hands, Tiger just couldn’t get it going on Sunday and withdrew after thirteen holes, citing a back injury. No word yet on what his status is next week for Doral, but he did mention that the injury is very similar to what caused him the pain at the Barclays last year.
Tiger also talked earlier this week about potentially adding more events to his schedule pre-Masters, but with this setback, you’d have to think that the possibility of that is not overly likely. No, it hasn’t been an ideal start to his 2014 calendar year, but with only three tournaments under his belt, it’s still far too early to make any kind of assessment on the overall state of his game or if he can finally end that major drought.
Don’t forget that this is still the player that won five tournaments last season. He’s pretty good.
- Other notable finishes: Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald (T8), Matteo Manassero, Paul Casey, Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley (T12), Nick Watney, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler (T24), Zach Johnson (T33), Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and Thomas Bjorn (T46)
- Notables to miss the cut: Angel Cabrera, Phil Mickelson, Mike Weir, Bo Van Pelt, Thorbjorn Olesen, Martin Kaymer, Tim Clark, Padraig Harrington, Stephen Gallacher, Peter Uihlein, Peter Hanson, Billy Horschel, Ryo Ishikawa, Charl Schwartzel and Henrik Stenson.
- Non-Tiger WD’s: Hideki Matsuyama withdrew after the opening round with a wrist problem. No word yet on whether it’s the same wrist that was causing issues previously. We’ll see if he tees it up next week at Doral, as he is eligible. D.H. Lee also withdrew on Friday, but there’s been no reason released publicly as of yet.
- GIF of the tournament? Russell Henley attempting to hit a bird: