Russell Henley, who will turn 24 on April 12, is making his Masters debut this year. A native of Macon, Ga., and a graduate of the University of Georgia, he won the 2010 Haskins Award as the top college golfer in the U.S. and represented the United States at the 2011 Walker Cup. Henley tied for low amateur at the 2010 U.S. Open and became only the second amateur ever to win on what is now the Web.com Tour when he captured the Stadion Classic at UGA in spring 2011. In January, he became the first PGA Tour rookie in 12 years to win his first tournament, the Sony Open in Hawaii. He agreed to share his thoughts on his first Masters with Masters.com’s John Steinbreder.
I played in the Par 3 Contest this afternoon, and it was pretty amazing.
First of all, I was playing again with Tom Watson and Nathan Smith. Secondly, we were playing behind the Big Three. And I walked onto the tee when Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were about to tee off No. 1.
Tom was there, too. We both took a bunch of pictures of them, and I loved hearing people go crazy for them. The crowd loves those guys, and it was very special being out there with them.
I had played the Par 3 course a few times in the past, and I did pretty well today. I shot 2-under and made four birdies. And one double. I hit a lot of awesome wedges, made some good putts and felt really good about my swing and my game.
We had a little skins game going, and Tom was talking a little trash. We were having fun, and so were the people in the gallery. There were so many of them, and they just get so into the Par 3. Especially with the Big Three right in front of us.
Who won the skins? Well, I did. I won them all when I made a birdie putt on No. 9. That was very cool, but even better was Tom Watson pulling me aside as we walked around the pond on the 9th to the green.
He told me some things I want to keep to myself, some very kind words about me and my future, and it was very special. I can’t believe he said those things to me. I cannot believe I got to play with him twice this week.
I am not going to be doing much tonight. I’ll probably just get some to-go food with my parents, who are in town, and hang out at our house here and watch a little TV. I have a pretty early tee time, which means I’ll have to wake up at 5:30 or so to get ready and get to the Club.
It has been a wonderful week so far. I have had a lot of fun. But I am ready to play a golf tournament.