It’s only right. On the first day of the Sony Open in Hawaii, good friends, Scott Langley and Russell Henley were paired together. As rookies playing in their first PGA Tour event after having earned their cards, you don’t get pairings with the name players; you have to work your way up to that.
But that was just fine with them. Not only were they very comfortable playing with each other, they genuinely like each other too. It goes back to their amateur days that included their T16 in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and then two five-hour flights to get to Europe to play in the Palmer Cup, the collegiate competition between eight-man teams from the U.S. and Great Britain and Ireland.
So with that kind of vibe going, Langley shot an 8-under 62 on Friday to take a one-shot lead over, you guessed it, Henley. He managed a 63.
On Friday, they had a role reversal with Henley shooting another 63 to set a 36-hole record for the tournament and take a two-shot lead…over Langley who shot 66.
And so, if you were writing a schlocky, made-for-television script, what would happen in the rubber match on the third day? A tie to set up the dramatic finish on Sunday, right? Well, that’s what happened. Henley continued to cruise around Waialea Country Club without a bogey and shot 67. Langley shot 65 with two bogeys to tie him. And, at a 54-hole record of 17-under, they will be paired together for the fourth straight day for the finale.
South African veteran, Tim Clark, finally healthy and rested, got within three shots of them with a 66 in hopes of being the foil in the final group. In a post-round television interview he was asked if he thought his greater experience would put pressure on the two rookies? And with a wry smile and tongue planted firmly in his cheek, the short-hitting, 5′ 7″ Clark said, “Well, I am a rather intimidating player.” He is sneaky good and sneaky steady and he will definitely serve as a sort of baseline for the play of the other two: he will not back up. He’s only made one bogey in 54 holes.
One thing definitely will change from all of this sweetness and light, the weather. It will get to 80 degrees and the wind will still be light, but there’s a 30% chance of showers all through the day, increasing to 40% by 6 PM, the time the tournaments usually finish. So will that be the monkey wrench in the rookies’ plans for victory? Do they even have plans for victory?
Up until now, they have both spoken about just concentrating on their games, having fun and enjoying the opportunity. And in Henley’s case, not having any expectations.
Circumstances taken to their logical conclusion, Sunday will probably end in a playoff.
But it will sure make for interesting viewing. The Golf Channel, 7 PM (Eastern).