Henley rides hot putter to top of Hyundai leaderboard


Last year Russell Henley got four cracks at the Plantation Course in his maiden trip to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He left Maui without breaking 70.

This time around he went decidedly lower, opening with an 8-under 65 to take a one-shot lead at Kapalua thanks to a hot putter.

"I'm confident in my putting. I've always been pretty confident with it," Henley told reporters after making all 14 putts inside 15 feet. "That definitely doesn't happen every day for anybody, and it's just one of those days where it happened for me. If I knew how to do that every day, I would do it."

At age 25, Henley already has a pair of PGA Tour wins to his credit, but he has struggled with consistency. Following his playoff win at the Honda Classic in March, Henley missed the cut in eight of his next 15 starts and finished the 2013-14 season with 12 missed cuts in 29 events. Despite the mixed results, his prowess on the greens has remained consistent - Henley finished last season 28th on Tour in strokes gained putting.

A midseason switch to instructor Scott Hamilton, though, has paid dividends with his full swing. It's a change that Henley made after playing the U.S. Open alongside Chris Kirk and Brendon Todd, both fellow Georgia alums and successful Hamilton pupils.

"My misses weren't very good," he said. "Anybody could hit a good shot. My misses, my bad shots were just really bad. I was just trying to make my misses better."