The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

March 3, 2014

A surprise win for Russell Henley

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods left early. Rory McIlroy faded late. And when a most unpredictable Honda Classic finally concluded with a four-man playoff, Russell Henley was as surprised as anyone to be holding the trophy.

His first comments after his second PGA Tour victory sized up a wild Sunday in south Florida.

"I don't know what's going on," Henley said.

He had reason to be surprised. Henley had only finished in the top 10 twice since winning the Sony Open 14 months ago in his debut as a PGA Tour member. He missed the cut in his most recent event. He started the final round two shots behind, and the guy he was chasing was McIlroy, who for three days had shown great poise, a wonderful touch with the putter and a swing that looked hard to beat.

"This is not exactly what I was expecting at the start of the week," Henley said.

And that doesn't account for the final hour at PGA National.

Russell Knox made a double bogey on the 14th hole. Henley made a double bogey on the 15th hole. McIlroy made a double bogey on the 16th hole. All three of them made it into the playoff with Ryan Palmer, whose 1-under 69 made him the only player from the last six groups who broke par. Palmer wasn't without his problems. He couldn't hit the green with a wedge on the par-5 18th hole and missed a 5-foot putt for par.

For the longest time, it looked like a tournament that no one wanted to win.

Henley won with one swing, though it took a second chance.

On the 18th hole in regulation, he pulled his 5-wood to the left, away from the water, and had about 40 yards to get up-and-down for birdie. He chunked his wedge halfway to the hole and then had to two-putt from 60 feet for a 72 just to get in the playoff.

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