NORTON, Mass. – On a star-studded leaderboard at the Deutsche Bank Championship, even Russell Henley admits that it’s a bit of a surprise to see his name on top heading into the final round.
Not that he has a problem with being in the pole position.
Henley made seven birdies en route to a 6-under 65 in the third round at TPC Boston, and carries a one-shot lead over Billy Horschel into Monday’s holiday finale as he looks to win for the third time.
“Nobody is really expecting me to be sitting here right now,” Henley said. “And that’s kind of how I like it.”
Henley knows what it takes to beat Rory McIlroy, having ousted the Ulsterman in a four-man playoff when he won the Honda Classic in March. He’ll likely have to take down McIlroy again if he wants to win for the second time this season, as the world No. 1 is two shots back in a tie for third, eyeing his fourth victory in his last five starts.
“He’s obviously a tough guy to beat,” Henley said. “Rory has had a heck of a run, and I’m sure he’ll continue that. It will mean a lot to have a nice finish here tomorrow.”
Henley’s season since his win at PGA National has been a bit of a struggle, with seven missed cuts in his last 12 starts. Despite a mediocre summer, a victory would not only vault him near the top of the FedEx Cup standings, but would also allow him to join Ryder Cuppers Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed on the short list of Americans with multiple PGA Tour victories this season.
That would be a timely resumé-builder, what with Tom Watson rounding out his squad for Gleneagles just two days from now.
“Making the Ryder Cup team would be great,” he said. “It’s pretty far off. I’ve got to play a lot of good golf tomorrow. That would be a great thing - it’s just one of those things that I try not to think about.”