American Russell Henley plays his approach at the 16th hole on the way to the early second-round lead inthe US PGA Tour Sony Open in Hawaii
Los Angeles (AFP) - Russell Henley fired two eagles in a seven-under-par 63 on Friday to take a three-shot clubhouse lead midway through the second round of the US PGA Tour Sony Open in Hawaii.
Henley, who started the day tied for second behind defending champion Kevin Na, opened with a birdie on the 10th hole at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, and after a bogey at the 16th he kickstarted his round at the 18th, where he holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle.
He gave back a stroke with a bogey at the first, then picked up six strokes in his last six holes – a storming finish capped by a 29-foot eagle at the par-five ninth.
“Nice to finish like that,” Henley said. “I don’t remember the last time I had two eagles in the same round, but it’s definitely exciting.”
Henley rolled in birdie putts of about nine feet at the fourth, fifth and seventh holes and an 11-footer at the eighth.
“The front I started hitting a few more fairways and giving myself some good looks and executing there from 10 to 15 feet or less,” added the American, who is chasing a fourth US PGA Tour title on the same course where he won his first as a tour rookie in 2013.
Henley had a three-shot lead over China’s Li Haotong, who had six birdies and a bogey in his five-under-par 65 for a 12-under total of 128.
“First few holes (my game wasn’t) quite on, especially on my tee shot, But I played great on my back nine holes, a lot of putts and played super-solid,” said Li, who has one OneAsia tour title and two European Tour titles on his resume but is still seeking a first US tour crown.
American veteran Matt Kuchar, whose nine PGA Tour titles include the 2019 Sony Open, was a further stroke back on 129 after his second straight bogey-free round, a five-under 65 that included five birdies.
“Fortunately I was finding a bunch of fairways today,” Kuchar said. “If you’re in the fairway you can make birdies. If you’re not in the fairway, you’re hoping to make pars.”
Na’s second round showed just how important finding the fairways could be with the rough at Waialae particularly dense and deep this year.
The South Korean-born American hit all 14 fairways in regulation on Thursday on the way to a nine-under par 61. On Friday Na hit just four fairways in regulation and carded a one-over 71 that left him seven shots off the pace.
American Jim Furyk, who started the day tied with Henley on eight-under, was one-over for the day through four holes.