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March 2, 2014

Russell Henley


DOUG MILNE:テつ We'd like to welcome the 2014 winner of The Honda Classic, Russell Henley, Russell, congratulations on your second PGA TOUR win.テつ A little bit of extra work today but you got the job done and move to 16th in the FedExCup standings with the win.
With that, I'll just turn it over to you for some opening comments.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Yeah, this doesn't feel real.テつ This is not exactly what I was expecting at the start of the week.テつ I knew I was playing well, and played‑‑ this sounds funny.テつ Played really well at Riviera on Friday and almost made the cut.テつ I went from almost last to having a putt on the last hole to make the cut, and I don't know, for some reason that gave me a lot of confidence going into this week.テつ That's really all it takes I think.

Q.テつ Talk about how crazy it was at the end, everybodyテつ seemed to be struggling at the end coming down the stretch.テつ Did you think 8‑under would get you in a playoff?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I thought it would be in the teens and I didn't know what the course was going to be like and thought it was going to firm up and the pin locations.テつ I try not to focus on a number so much as I did my attitude and how I interacted with Adam and how I enjoyed the day.テつ I really tried to, whatever happens, really enjoy it and just get better from it.テつ I think I did that.

Q.テつ Could you talk about the yardage on that second shot on the playoff hole and what were your thoughts hitting that shot?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ You know, I just had that‑‑ I was about eight yards away from my divot or shot 20 minutes before hitting that 5‑wood.テつ I hit it‑‑ I didn't know I could hit it that far.テつ I thought I hit it in the bunker and actually flew the bunker on the left on my last hole, and so I knew that it was enough club and I didn't really trust it that much the first time around.
So the next time, I just said, you know what, all these guys are probably going to make birdie, and I just need to just trust my swing and put the best swing I can on it and not be too worried about where it goes.
Ace got me to aim it a little bit more at the flag because he figured I would probably just pull it a little bit, and I'm glad he did that.

Q.テつ Everybody in the hunt was having trouble and was struggling down the stretch.テつ Sounds like a dumb question but what was so hard about closing that out?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Well, for me, I haven't been there in a while.テつ Not to mention playing against Rory and his game is just‑‑ you know, it's so good, it's so fun to watch, and you can tell he just looked very comfortable.
Obviously didn't get what he wanted out of today but he just looks very comfortable and I think it was really tough for me knowing I had all these guys playing really well.
And I think the biggest thing for me was I haven't been in this situation as much as‑‑ I don't know, Rory or whoever, and I think that was the hardest thing is kind of trying to remember back to where I've had a lot of pressure on me and not to mention the wind changed pretty much every day.
Definitely had a lot of adrenaline after I chipped in on 14 going into the Bear Trap, so that probably didn't help that 6‑iron.

Q.テつ Can you just take us through the wild swing of emotions of the day, obviously the back‑to‑back birdies, the chip‑in, and you rinse it on the next one and 18 in regulation and obviously 18 in the playoff.テつ
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Ace told me after‑‑ I almost made a par on 12.テつ Kind of bumped a little bit right at the end and barely missed.テつ Thought I hit a pretty good putt.テつ While Rory was putting, Ace told me, let's hit some fairways, let's hit some greens, and let's just give ourselves some good chances coming in because we're still in this.
You know, he didn't necessarily have to say that but it felt good to know that we're kind of on the same page.テつ I went to 13 and hit a great‑‑ felt like a great bounce swing, hit a great drive down the right side and had a really good number and trust it and hit the exact shot I wanted to hit into the green and just stayed real committed to my putt and made that.
That gave me a lot of confidence going into the next couple holes, even though I was still, you know, not exactly comfortable because I haven't been there in a while.
I embraced it the best I could, and then I went to 14 and felt like I hit a great shot off the tee just right of the green, probably didn't quite trust it.テつ I thought I might go over if I hit the 6‑iron too hard.テつ
テつテつテつテつテつテつ The chip, I just kind of felt like I was going to make it.テつ I know that sounds kind of weird but I really thought I was going to make it.テつ I felt‑‑ it felt like it was really good and I felt like I hit that chip a million times or a hundred million times or whatever.
The swing on 15, I didn't really see coming.テつ I felt really good over that 6‑iron and when I let it go, I looked up it and it was kind of fading and I was a little bit shocked at that.テつ I knew that I was just going to hang in there no matter what happened, and so I wasn't going to let it bother me.
I think one of the best shots I hit of the day was my 4‑iron on 16.テつ I had so much grass behind the ball and if it wasn't for me being‑‑ having a little adrenaline, being excited in the moment, I don't know if I could hit it that far and it almost got up top which shocked me.テつ It was 224 or something to that pin and that was probably one of the best shots I hit besides the 5‑wood on 18 in the playoff.
And then once I realized I was pretty close to the lead, I just tried to commit to the targets that Ace and I agreed on and made the best swings I could.テつ Definitely didn't trust the 5‑wood on 18, but you know, I guess it was just meant to be, I don't know.

Q.テつ After all that that you just got done talking about, what was it like standing there watching Rory with about a 12‑foot putt to win it?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ It was hard because I felt like I could have hit a lot better chip than I did.テつ I wasn't really happy with that chip obviously.
I just for some reason, it kind of dawned on me a little bit, my attitude was really got whole day and watching him have that putt to win, it wasn't a very comfortable feeling.テつ I think I was just kind of shocked that I kind of let it get to that point.テつ I thought that I would have hit a better chip and not had a 50‑footer for birdie on 18 with where I was on the fairway.テつ Just a little bit of shock.
I still just tried to hang in there the best I could and not let my emotions get too up or down no matter what happened on his putt.

Q.テつ I think you've only had two Top‑10s since winning Sony, it wasn't much and you've alluded to it; so what kept you out of contention for the last year or so, and what are you going to do going forward?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Well, I think there's probably a lot of things that kept me out of contention.テつ One, it was my rookie year on TOUR.テつ There aren't that many guys‑‑ Jordan Spieth is definitely a world‑class player and had an awesome first year, played his way on, and I don't know what he finished on the FedEx but obviously super impressive.
But you know, I think it was a lot to deal with after I won.テつ I think I played in the Masters, played in all the majors, played in all the WGCs, and I don't know that I was really prepared to do all that mentally.
I just kind of‑‑ I don't remember being really into the practicing as much as I am now, and I think I just wasn't ready for it.テつ I think I've definitely grown a lot since then, and hopefully after this win, I can be a little bit more consistent but obviously that's always the goal.

Q.テつ A couple quickies.テつ Do you have any experience being in playoff before, college, amateur, Web.com?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I do.テつ I won the SEC Championship my junior year in a playoff.テつ Played 18 twice.テつ I remember being really relaxed.テつ It was at Seaside where they have the McGladrey and I birdied 18 to win the playoff.テつ I made like a 15‑foot putt.テつ I don't even remember being nervous at although because we had already won as a team and that's all I was really concerned about.
Won in a playoff in Charlotte 2012, first win as a pro on the Web.com TOUR with Patrick Cantlay and Morgan Hoffmann.テつ We played it once, I made a par and won.
Then I made like a 30‑foot putt in Jacksonville a couple weeks later to get into a playoff and won on the first playoff hole with a par.
So I've had a couple and been pretty successful with them so far.テつ Hopefully I can keep doing that.テつ But it's hard to compare anything like that to how I was feeling today.テつ It was a lot bigger and a lot more on the line.テつ I tried to pull from that but I don't know.

Q.テつ You sat there yesterday and talked about being from Macon, Georgia and the Masters; what makes that place so special for you?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I think going there growing up almost every year as a junior golfer and getting there and just the whole process of going.テつ It was such a cool like big deal.テつ You know, this year, or last year, Friday was on my birthday.テつ I didn't play very well.テつ It was definitely a little bit overwhelming for‑‑ I didn't expect to be in the Masters my first year on TOUR.テつ But I just think going there, growing up and just it's always so special.
I remember going there when I was 13 or 14 with a buddy; the Barnetts always took me, and I remember going there and we were sitting behind No.2 and we looked down and we like felt the grass and we thought it was the coolest thing, like it was Augusta National grass, and just so smooth and perfect.テつ For some reason, it's just always been a big deal being really close to Augusta and just watch it on TV every year no matter who, so it's going to be cool to go back.

Q.テつ Just a very general question.テつ Can you just take us through everything, the broad strokes, after yesterday's round and before teeing off today?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Yes, came in here and talked to you guys a little bit and then I went and hit some balls, half a bucket of balls to wind down a little bit and keep working on some things I'm working on and some fundamentals.テつ Went back and went out to eat, quick dinner.テつ Went home and text and called a couple of my good friends back home.
Woke up this morning around 6:00 really excited to play, and somehow managed to go back to sleep till about 8:00, so I was really happy about that.テつ I didn't believe I was, I had to literally force myself and take deep breaths (laughs).
Got some good sleep.テつテつ Went to, picked up my brother and his friend and we went to the mall and walked around a little bit.テつ I went to the gym and warmed up and then had some lunch and came out.テつテつ That's pretty much it.テつ I don't know if that's what you wanted.

Q.テつ Following you guys around, I was there all 18 holes, I don't know if I saw you exchange beyond hello any words with Rory.テつ Is that pretty normal for you?テつ Is that pretty much something that was understood going in?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I don't know.テつ I mean, he didn't make an effort to talk to me very much but everybody is different in the final round.テつ I hear nothing but great things about him and how nice a guy he is, so he was just trying to play his best round of golf.テつ You know, we didn't talk very much.テつ I didn't really know what to expect.テつ Obviously I haven't played with him before.テつ But I had Adam Hayes to talk to and that was all right.

Q.テつ On Thursday after your first round, you talked about Riviera, you said, you know what, just stop being overly technical, just go back to swinging hard and wherever the ball goes, find it again, hit it again.テつ Is that what you did all four days here?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ A little bit.テつ You know, I took the momentum from that Friday into this week for sure.テつ I got some really good people around me that have been helping motivate me and tell me to keep working hard.テつ And I think that's why you never give up no matter how far‑‑ I think I was last or second to last place going into Friday, and I knew I had been working hard on my game.
I knew I had probably been working on the right stuff, and I just said, you know what, I'm just going to play golf today and hit it hard and‑‑ for some reason, I convinced myself the first four weeks that I was all of a sudden going to start not missing any shots and hitting it perfect all the time, and every day was going to be the same.
That's something that I used to always know that every day, I feel a little different, and you just have to go with whatever you feel.テつ I just said, I was going to swing hard, swing aggressive and go chase it.テつ Had a really nice round there, almost made the cut, and it sounds funny, but that give me a lot of confidence to know I could go from last place, basically, to almost making the cut.テつ I just kind of road that confidence into this week.

Q.テつ When and how, if, did you find out that Tiger Woods had withdrawn?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I didn't know he had withdrawn.

Q.テつ You didn't?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Thanks for telling me.テつ (Laughter) why‑‑ never mind.

Q.テつ I think your birthday this year will be on Saturday of the Masters; have you thought about that, hey, I want to make the cut for sure after what happened last year?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I saw a couple Masters commercials this week, and I'll be honest, it hurt, it hurt to see them.テつ It hurts to see guys wearing the hat that you're wearing and knowing that I wasn't in.テつ And I just kept thinking to myself, and it's been like this for a while; I just can't imagine not playing again.テつ I just feel like that would hurt me really bad.
I try to think positive, and not get my hopes up too much about it, but it definitely‑‑ I think about it a lot and hopefully this year will be a little bit better than the last.
DOUG MILNE:テつ Russell congratulations.

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