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March 4, 2014

Russell Henley


KELLY BARNES:テつ Please welcome Russell Henley to the interview room.テつ You're straight off a win this week at Honda and quick turnaround to come down here and qualify for the field.テつ How do you mentally prepare after coming off of a win and getting ready for a WGC, obviously a huge event, and a lot going on in your head and travel and all that good stuff.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Yeah, definitely wasn't planning on being here.テつ Was going to go down to Puerto Rico and play.テつ Excited to be here.テつ I played last year but obviously they redid the course.
I'm excited.テつ I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be and obviously confident with my game and just trying to get a little rest these next couple days before the tournament starts.

Q.テつ Can you explain to the lay men what it feels like to be in contention on a Sunday, what those last nine holes‑‑ is it just with the adrenaline and the emotions and how you managed all of that.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Explain to who?

Q.テつ Well, for those of us who have never been in contention, what is that like physiologically, emotionally.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Well, I think it's‑‑ it gradually builds as the week goes on and you realize you're in contention, the feeling, the adrenaline all that, it increases.
One thing I've always try to do is embrace it and crave it, and I feel like I do crave it.テつ A lot of times, I can't speak for anybody else, but I feel like it's probably an easy thing to do to try to calm yourself down and try to wish it away.テつ And I think the more you can embrace the butterflies, I guess you would say, and that feeling, the better you're going to deal with it.
So I look forward to that feeling, and coming down the stretch, I think is‑‑ I think it's just having a good perspective for me.テつ I mean, I feel like I embrace the whole day really well.テつ In my opinion, I feel like I had fun playing.
And I think if you‑‑ for me, at least, like I said, I can't speak for anybody else, if I stop having fun playing the game, and if I get into a situation like that, where I worked so hard to get there, final group on a Sunday and I don't enjoy it, I feel like something's probably wrong, and that was kind of my main focus.
I think if you embrace the nerves and all that, and try to have a good time with it, you're probably going to do a little better.テつ I don't know how to describe the feeling.テつ It's unlike any other that I've ever had doing anything else in my life besides playing golf and competing to win big tournaments.
It's a crazy feeling.テつ I think the only way to deal with it is to just try to love it.テつ And I don't know how to describe it to somebody who hasn't been there, but it's a lot of fun.

Q.テつ What was your Sunday night like, and as a follow‑up to that, how is this win going to be different in terms of how you move forward and try to keep it kind of rolling?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Well, I feel like‑‑ well, so Sunday night, I hung out with my brother and Adam Hayes and a couple people, and we went out to dinner and just had a nice dinner.テつ Went back to my room and watched a little bit of the replay, made some phone calls to some friends, family, friends, and just kind of relaxed.テつ I was so tired I wasn't really in the mood to celebrate, and I knew I had to play this week.
So I didn't do too much.テつ What was the other question?テつ Sorry.

Q.テつ The second one, also, did you sleep Sunday night?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I slept like three hours Sunday night.テつ I was pretty wired and excited, and had a lot of text messages and calls.

Q.テつ How do you treat this differently than you treated your first win?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Compared to my first win, I don't know that I was completely ready to deal with it the first time around.テつ Definitely wasn't expecting to win right out of the gate.
So last time I won, I was so pumped up about getting into Augusta and just really wanted to go back home and celebrate.
Now, this year, after winning, I want to try to get back in that situation again.テつ I want to keep practicing.テつ I'm really enjoying golf right now, playing, practicing, and I think it's just a little different than last year.テつ I'm excited to keep working on my game and you know, last year, after the win, I probably would have liked slept in this morning.
This morning, I woke up at 6:00 and got out there and played an early nine and got some work in and I'm going to go practice again.
I don't know if that means I'm growing up; hopefully not too much.テつ But I think I'm just‑‑ I think I'm hopefully a little bit more prepared than last time.

Q.テつ Besides for the great South Florida weather, what makes this WGC event so special here at Doral?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Well, the field.テつ Obviously everything at this place is amazing, the hotel and the resort and the help, the people, the volunteers, everything is just top of the line.テつ It feels that way right when you ride in.
The course is just‑‑ I just played the front nine, and the course is just perfect.テつ Everything about it is just, you can tell they put a lot of care and effort into it.テつ On top of that, the field is really, really good, the best field you can get in golf.
So I think the combination of all that makes it a pretty amazing week.

Q.テつ When you qualified Sunday for the Masters, we all know that's an automatic invitation; do they contact you?テつ Have you had any communication with them to say you're in?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I have not.テつ I haven't had any.

Q.テつ There's been an amazing streak of University of Georgia golfers this year.テつ What do you attribute that to, and also on your bag, there's a G; do you have to ask for that G?テつ Do some people get it and some don't?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I think on the bag is who your sponsors are, and a lot of guys are probably getting paid to have something on their bag.テつ But yeah, I want the G on my bag.テつ I loved the four years I got to spend in Athens and proud to be a Dog.
Yeah, there have been a lot of guys.テつ I think it just shows what Chris Hack is doing at Georgia is a special thing.テつ He helped me and he's a big reason of why I'm out here and just helped me grow as a person and as a player, and just kind of pushed me and guided me in the right direction.テつ Didn't let me get too far off package in what makes me a good player and what makes me tick.
I think he knows how to let players be who they are, let them play the game the way they want to play it versus they get to college and he tries to take control of that.テつ He just let's us be.テつ He feels like we are already pretty good players coming into Georgia.テつ If he can just let us‑‑ try to help us in little ways be a little better and just keep getting experience through the tournaments and being competitive with each other, then he thinks that's going to be a lot more beneficial than getting too technical with swing and whatever else, whatever else a college golf coach‑‑ whatever else they are doing these days which I don't know.
It was a special time, and obviously he's doing something right.テつ So it's fun to be a part of‑‑ to be known as a part of one of the guys from Georgia.テつ It makes me feel proud.

Q.テつ How do you keep it rolling?テつ How do you like guard against the so‑called letdown after winning?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Well, like I said earlier, I think last year, I didn't expect or I didn't really know how to deal with it right off the bat, and I feel like it was a lot on my plate, a lot more than I was ready to deal with.テつ I think this year, I think I'm more excited to keep playing golf and keep getting better, and I feel like I've got a little bit better direction that I'm going in right now.テつ I feel like I know what is going to make me better.
A full year on TOUR will teach you a lot about who you are and what you need to do with your game; what works, what doesn't work.テつ I think a year of experience is huge for me.テつ Golf is so hard that nobody knows for sure if they are going to keep anything going.テつ I know I can control my work ethic and my attitude, and hopefully I can keep those consistent.

Q.テつ I can't imagine what it must be like being from Macon, Georgia playing in multiple Masters, being from the south, how early was the Masters a part of your memory, your dinner conversation, your life, even as a little kid?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Pretty early.テつ I'd say around ten years old, I started going, maybe 11 or 12.テつ Started going with friends, with actually the bar nets, went with the same people every year, Matthew and Madison Barnett, their dad would take us.テつ We would always go on the weekend, on a Saturday or Sunday and their dad, Maurice would drop us off.テつテつ We would get Krispy Kreme donuts and he drop us off by the church, and he would walk over and go to Augusta Country Club and pretend he was a member and eat and watch it, and go back at four or five when we got done.テつ I don't think we had cell phones, it was when I was in my early teens‑‑ maybe I did, I don't remember.テつ It was just so cool.テつ I remember just walking out from right at the bottom of the hill on 1, and I remember the smell and the look and how green it was and I just‑‑ it was just overwhelming.
It is very special.テつ But I think last year was pretty overwhelming for me, having a birthday on Friday and definitely didn't play as well as I wanted.テつ But I think this year, I'm going to treat it a little bit differently, and hopefully I can have a little better result and just at the same time enjoy it as much as I need to.

Q.テつ On Sunday, when were the butterflies, as you described them, the worst, at what point?テつ And when you're feeling that way, are you concentrating on your breathing?テつ Are you having an internal conversation?テつ How do you turn it around so that you don't feel stressed, you feel like this is fun, how do you manage that?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ You know, I wish‑‑ I think the more I'm in that situation, the better I can probably get at doing all that, and I think it's a constant grind to do all these things, manage your stress, manage your focus, manage your emotions.テつ I think that's the hardest thing about golf.テつ Try to do that every week.
Definitely taking deep breaths helps.テつ For me, talking; like I love to talk when I play.テつ There's so much time when you're out there that passes, that it would be hard to focus for five straight hours.テつ I'm lucky that I've got a pretty fun guy to be around on the bag, Adam Hayes, and we have a good time out there.テつ I think that helps a lot for me.テつ So I would say talking and deep breaths and just reminding myself that it's just a game.

Q.テつ Probably every guy on TOUR wants to win at least one tournament, and so you got that out of the way pretty quickly, and then you want to win a second tournament.テつ So how important or how big was winning the Honda for you?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Probably bigger than has sunk in.テつ I definitely wanted to win again, obviously ever since I won the first time, just to kind of say I'm‑‑ just to make myself feel like, you know, that win wasn't just a one‑week thing.
And now that I've won again, I think I'll feel a little bit‑‑ a little bit better about my first one and knowing that, you know, a lot of people have won once, and like you were saying, so it feels good to kind of‑‑ to win again.テつ Makes me feel very confident, like I'm supposed to be out here kind of feeling.
So as funny as that sounds, and I'm sitting here saying, you don't feel like you're supposed to be out here and you've won on the PGA TOUR.テつ I guess it's just the competitive nature of the game and you just want to keep doing it to prove to yourself over and over that you can keep doing it.テつ That's the fun of it.

Q.テつ There's a lot of talk about the changes of the course.テつ I know you said you just played the front nine; just your impressions, what you think of what they have done.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I love it.テつ It's a simple course.テつ Got a lot of character, though.テつ Seems very fair.テつ The greens are amazing.テつ There are obviously not many ball marks on them.テつ Today they were perfect.テつ I don't know what the speed is going to be in the tournament but today they were perfect speed and rolled so true.
The course just looks so healthy.テつ The grass is so green and everything is just‑‑ the sand is just fluffy and nice and everything is great about it.テつ So I'm excited to play it.テつ Not that it wasn't‑‑ because it was great last year, too, but I think all the changes are great.
I'm excited to play the back nine tomorrow.

Q.テつ Knowing how hard it has been to win twice out here, what do you think Tiger has that has enabled him to win 79 times?テつ Jason Day was in here before you saying, maybe he's giving the impression that it's easy to win golf tournaments when obviously it's not.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ It's not easy.テつ It's not easy at all.テつ It's very hard.
It's hard to comprehend that many wins.テつ I think I've won five professional tournaments, and that feels like I'm doing really well, and I am doing really well. テつBut 79 times or however many worldwide wins or whatever, 14 majors, it's hard to comprehend that.テつ It's obviously super impressive and that's why he's going to go down as one of the greatest ever and probably the greatest, and that's obviously opinion and stuff.テつ But it's super impressive and hard for me to manage in.
KELLY BARNES:テつテつ Thanks for coming in, Russell.

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