Russell Henley, who finished at 3-under par, takes a free drop in front of the scoreboard on the 18th green in the opening round of the Tour Championship on Thursday, September 21, 2017, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Caddie speaks, Henley responds at Tour Championship

Russell Henley needed a pep talk. Maybe more.

His caddie delivered the necessary words.

Henley, the University of Georgia alum, did not get off to a good start his opening round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club on Thursday. In fact, he was 3-over after seven holes.

“I was walking to the eighth tee and my caddie asked me if I was ready to start focusing,” Henley said.

Sure enough.

Henley birdied the final two holes of his front nine to stand at just 1-over par 36. He added four more birdies on the back nine, including three straight, for a back nine of 4-under 31. On the day, Henley finished 3-under 67, good for a tie for sixth.

“I guess I just started getting into it a little bit more,” Henley said of the turnaround. “But made some nice putts and started hitting it a little bit better and that's what you have to do out here.”

Hawks’ Kent Bazemore an eager spectator

How different were his front and back nines? Henley managed to save par on the par-5 18th hole after his second shot hit the green-side electronic scoreboard. He received a free drop following the precarious approach.

Henley entered the FedEx Cup playoff finale 16th in the point standings, certainly a long shot to win the title even with a Tour Championship victory. Still, the former Bulldog is making some noise.

Henley, along with Jhonattan Vegas, attended the Braves game against the Nationals at SunTrust Park Wednesday night.

“Yeah, got to go in the dugout, got to interview, watch some batting practice, which was really cool,” Henley said. “And then I got to do the Tomahawk Chop in the first inning with Jhonny Vegas. I grew up going to Braves games when the stadium was on the south side of Atlanta and always been a lot of fun, so it was pretty cool.”

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