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February 24, 2015

Russell Henley


DOUG MILNE:テつ Russell Henley, thanks for joining us for a few minutes, back to defend your Honda Classic title.テつ Been a busy year for you obviously but you're back, a special week obviously when you defend a title, so just some comments on being back here at PGA National this week.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Obviously brings back some good memories.テつ That win last year was big for my momentum, and big for me, as a second‑year player out here, had not been playing too well to that point.テつ So jump‑started me and gave me a little bit of confidence, and ended up having a really nice year in my opinion.
So, you know, it was a shootout last year, and such a tough golf course and I'm just hoping that I can play well again.
DOUG MILNE:テつ On the way down, you were talking about your experience with O.A.R. the other night.テつ If you can just recap that a little bit for us.
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Yeah, they were nice enough to let me play two songs with them that we had planned out Saturday after the round at Riviera, and it was a blast.テつ They let me play electric guitar and pretty amazing.テつ I never thought I would be doing that a couple years ago, if you would have asked me.
But they were so nice and accommodating and very nice to my friends.テつ Hopefully I can hang out with them again.テつ And then they actually called me up during the encore for the last song and they told me the chords when I was on stage and turned my guitar back on, so that was really fun, getting a little bit of a bonus song there.
So something I'll always remember.

Q.テつ Is it more pressure playing with them or trying to make a putt to win a tournament?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ No pressure playing with them, I don't think, because they are such a good band, and you know, only thing‑‑ I don't have to plug my guitar in.テつ They are going to sound good if I'm playing or not.
They actually turned mine up loud enough to where I could hear it really well and a lot of my friends could hear it well, too.テつ That was really cool of them.テつ I would say it's completely different because I'm just having a blast when I'm up there and I'm super focused when I'm putting to win a tournament.

Q.テつ So you have the second career all lined up?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Everybody says, oh, you're a rock star now.テつ I'm like, I'm a wannabe.テつ I would love to play music but definitely not good enough (laughs).

Q.テつ When you look at the success that you and a lot of other young guys on TOUR are having right now, do you see things in common between you guys that explain why collectively you guys have been so good at such a young age?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ Well, I mean, I think amateur golf and college golf has gotten so competitive.テつ The courses we are playing when I was at Georgia, we were playing the best tournaments, the most competition I think, and you're playing tough courses.
Like NCAAs, we played Inverness my sophomore year.テつ Played The Honors Course one year.テつ SECs we played, where they had the McGladrey, played seaside.テつ We played Isleworth.テつ Everybody knows how hard Isleworth is.
Played a lot of tough courses, and I think those tough courses and that tough competition, along with all the really great amateur tournaments, just kind of gets you ready.テつ I mean, I don't know how much better you can prepare them by going through college and playing all the big amateur tournaments that I got to play in.テつ It's been a blessing.

Q.テつ Just wondering if there's any advantage synergy‑wise between being able to have some musical talent, play guitar and what you do on a golf course?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I would hope.テつ I travel with it and I play a lot.テつ I feel like it putts my‑‑ when I'm playing guitar and I'm having to think about the chords or if I'm attempting to sing, by myself of course (laughing), I think it puts my brain in a place where I can't think about anything else.
Kind of puts you in that zone.テつ It's kind of like when you're reading a book and you realize you've read a couple pages and didn't even seem like it.テつ It puts me in that zone where I have to turn the brain off for a little bit, so I hope it helps.

Q.テつ Do you think the NCAAs going to that match‑play format is going to bode well for U.S. Ryder Cup down the road?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I would hope.テつ I mean, when I was in the Match Play, playing the Match Play, I thought it was a blast.テつ The four days of stroke play is, you know, I think everybody's got their opinion on it.
But that match play, it was stroke play my freshman year and match play my last year; once I got to play in the tree or whatever, it was awesome.テつ I thought it was so much fun.テつ You're wondering who is winning and you've got to grind it out and you've got to win for your team and it's just a different element that I'm a huge fan of.
Hopefully it will be good for‑‑ I don't know how it could hurt.テつ Any time you can deal with that kind of pressure, that team pressure in match play, it's a fun thing and it makes you better.

Q.テつ Given the struggles of some of the older players who were really dominant in their youth, do you sense any kind of a changing of the guard, guys like you, Patrick Reed, some of the other young players, Rory, maybe ready to take control?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I hope.テつ I mean, I think Rory's done a pretty good job of taking control.
You know, I think everybody's on a different road.テつ I mean, it's taken me‑‑ I'm still in the process of getting to know my game, getting to know my swing, getting comfortable, knowing what works for me.テつ For some guys, it just takes more time than others.テつ There's some guys that jump out here and are playing world‑class golf right off the bat.
So I think it's different for everyone.テつ But hopefully I can be in that conversation, and hopefully I can keep contending and getting better every year. テつI feel like if I can just feel like I get a little better every year, I feel like I might be one of those names.

Q.テつ The last two Honda winners, you and Michael Thompson both came in here having missed three cuts in the previous four weeks.テつ I know you played really well at Riviera on Friday.テつ But can you explain how guys go from not playing well to all of a sudden you're able to win?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I think it might have something to do with getting back to the bermudagrass.テつ I feel like whenever I play Riviera, I'm uncomfortable.テつ I've made the cut one time there of the three times.テつ I love the course.テつ I love the atmosphere.テつ I want to play well there obviously.
But I'm just not super comfortable on that course yet.テつ And I think this year, although it didn't show, I at least felt like I got to know the course a little bit better, and I feel like next year I'm going to be a little bit more prepared.テつ I just feel like that's how it is sometimes, and I think Michael played a lot of bermudagrass probably growing up.
You know, maybe that's it.テつ But you know, those West Coast tournaments can be brutal.テつ I feel like those greens are really hard to putt on, and they are not easy courses.
Torrey Pines is not easy, and I'd say Pebble with the weather, usually predicts what the scores are going to be.テつ When I played it last year, it was really tough.テつ I think those courses are just ones I'm still trying to get comfortable on, and then when I come over here to some bermudagrass, I look down and feel like it's what I've been doing my whole life.テつ Maybe I just get a little bit comfortable.テつ That's the best explanation I have for you.

Q.テつ You mentioned the early success a lot of guys are having.テつ On the back side of that, do you think that golf is still the kind of game where you can have a long career playing at a high career playing at a high level until late 30s, 40s, beyond, or is it more a younger man's game now where your prime years are while you're a little younger?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I think it depends on who you are.テつ You look at say Jim Furyk or Phil Mickelson, I feel like those guys have had the same game for their whole careers.テつ They do a couple things incredibly well.テつ Obviously they both have amazing short games.
But I think Jim Furyk, when I've played with him, he keeps the ball in front of him so well, he manages his game so well, and that's why he is where he is right now.テつ I haven't played with Phil so I can't make a comment about that.
I think the game's turning into a lot of that.テつ I think you've got to hit it a long way.テつ I think you've got to hit it straight and I think you have to manage your game.テつ I mean, I think one of the biggest changes I've made is my course management out here.
And I feel like if I can stay strong like you're talking about, hitting it a long way, staying young and fit or whatever; if I can stay strong and keep managing my game, I feel like I can play that long.テつ I believe I can.テつ But only time will tell.テつ I feel like it's definitely just turned into more of a power game for sure.テつ I don't know if that was a good answer or not (smiling).

Q.テつ Generally about this course, what do you think are the keys to playing well and having a good finish here?テつ And the fans are always attracted by the Bear Trap holes and all the excitement.テつ What's it like to play those holes?
RUSSELL HENLEY:テつ I've played pretty well here so far.テつ Hopefully I can have another good week here.テつ The one thing I've always noticed, what changes for me, is‑‑ maybe it doesn't change as much as I'm more aware of it, is my attitude.
I'm a little bit tougher and I'm a little bit easier on myself on this course.テつ Because it's so hard, I know that if I can just hang around and keep making pars, say I'm a couple over, just keep making pars, maybe grab a birdie; if I just hang around the best I can, I feel like that's what you have to do.
That's the main thing I've noticed, because it is such a hard course.テつ Now, talk about actually hitting the shots, I think you have to drive it really well and I feel like you have to drive it long.テつ I feel like hitting it long really helps out here and being able to hit it out of the thick rough.テつ I feel like if you hit it a long way and you're tough, I feel like that's a good combination for this place.
Another thing about the Bear Trap, everybody talks about 15, 16, 17, and those are really tough holes.テつ But nobody ever talks about 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9‑‑ all the holes on the front, there's some really difficult holes.テつ I think the rest of the course is a little bit underrated.テつ But it is a blast playing the Bear Trap and those holes are really visually intimidating.テつ I'm excited to play them again for sure.
DOUG MILNE:テつ Russell, we appreciate your time.

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