Russell Henley rallies to win Houston Open, earns trip to Masters
Russell Henley no longer gets to take a week off, and he couldn't be happier. He's going to the Masters. Henley overcame a four-shot deficit Sunday in the Houston by closing with a 7-under 65 for a three-shot victory, one of the most important final rounds of his career. Only later did he realize it might have his best.
He made 10 birdies. He never went more than two holes without a birdie.
"I made 10 birdies today?" he asked. "Oh, wow. Wow. Yeah, then I guess it's definitely the best."
Henley ran off five of them in the opening eight holes to briefly catch up to Sung Kang, only to make a double bogey from the bunker on the par-3 ninth at the Golf Club of Houston. Only the 27-year-old from Georgia was just getting warmed up.
The decisive stretch came on the par-5 13th, where Henley and Kang were tied for the lead. Henley pitched to 3 feet for birdie, while Kang missed from 15 feet. On the par-3 14th, Henley rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt on the fast greens, cut to try to mimic what players will face at Augusta National. Kang did well to save par from 6 feet. And then Henley raced out to a three-shot advantage with another up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 15th. He finished with a bogey for 20-under 268, three shots ahead of Kang.
Rickie Fowler was never in the picture. He made a double bogey with a wild drive on the second hole, and then got hit driver off the deck into the water on the par-5 fourth hole to drop another shot. Fowler trailed by as many as seven shots until a flurry of birdies late in the round when it was out of reach.
Fowler closed with a 70 and tied for third, along with Luke List (68).
"Just an alignment problem that just caused me to make a couple bad swings, cost me a few shots," Fowler said. "Nice that I got it turned around and started to make some good swings and made some birdies and fought back, got a good finish out of it. Obviously, yeah, I would have like to have gotten off to a better start."
Jon Rahm, the 22-year-old rookie from Spain, closed with a 67 and tied for 10th.