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Langley playing like old pro at Sony Open

January 11, 2013
By DOUG FERGUSON , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - Scott Langley made a rookie debut on the PGA Tour he won't soon forget.

Russell Henley wasn't too shabby, either.

Langley thrived on a penetrating ball flight and a pure putting stroke Thursday for an 8-under 62, giving him a one-shot lead over Henley in the first round of the Sony Open. Henley played in the same group as Langley, and they put on quite a show at Waialae Country Club.

Article Photos

PGA Tour rookie Scott Langley shot an 8-under 62 on Monday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Sony Open.
AP photo

Henley made five birdies on the back nine, holing 15-footers with confidence. But the University of Georgia alumnus couldn't keep it going on the par-5 18th hole when his chip from short of the green came out hot and he had to settle for a two-putt par from 30 feet.

"I'm a young guy, but I'm old enough to know that we have a lot of golf left. We've barely started, and I'm excited about the next few days," Langley said.

Langley, a former NCAA champion from Illinois, played bogey-free in a steady wind - nowhere near the gusts of Kapalua last week - and made a couple of long putts.

Fact Box

SONY?OPEN

Thursday's First Round

At Honolulu

Note:?Full scores are unavailable; two players have not finished the first round.

-SCORETHRU
Scott Langley-8F
Russell Henley-7F
Scott Piercy-6F
Tim Clark-6F
Stephen Ames-5F
Jeff Overton-5F
Matt Jones-4F
Tim Herron-4F
Webb Simpson-4F
Billy Horschel-4F
Matt Kuchar-4F
Tommy Gainey-4F
Brian Stuard-4F
Morgan Hoffmann-4F
Charles Howell III-4F
Danny Lee-4F

He holed from 55 feet across the green for eagle on the par-5 ninth, and then took the outright lead on the 16th when a fairway bunker shot landed on the front part of the green, and he rapped in a 30-footer for birdie.

His final birdie came on the 18th with a tough flop shot over a bunker that settled about 6 feet away. He made that for birdie, just like he made putts from similar length for par to keep his round intact.

Scott Piercy had a 64 in the morning, and Tim Clark matched that in the afternoon.

Dustin Johnson, trying to become the first player in 10 years to sweep the Hawaii swing after his win last week at windy Kapalua, finished with a pair of bogeys for a 70.

Langley was not entirely new to big-time golf. He qualified for two U.S. Opens and tied for low amateur - with Henley, no less - at Pebble Beach in 2010.

But considering the nerves he felt on the first tee, and going around this tight course without a bogey, he didn't hesitate to call this round his best ever as a pro.

Adding to the dream day was being alongside Henley, one of his closest friends.

Henley also has a strong pedigree, having won on the Nationwide Tour as an amateur and twice more last year to earn his card.

As they walked up the 16th fairway late in the afternoon, the sun starting to slide toward the Pacific horizon and the skinny palms swaying in the wind, they couldn't help but think back to one year ago.

They were playing in a Hooters Tour event in Florida, Henley missing the cut and Langley barely making it.

"We were on the range trying to help each other find it," Langley said. "We were just walking up 16. You could see the ocean behind, PGA Tour signs everywhere. We looked at each other and realized this is pretty cool. To look back one year ago and to know that we weren't here ... we were in a far different place."

And now they're the top names on the leaderboard after one round of the first full-field tournament of the year.

They also had company.

Morgan Hoffman, another rookie, opened with a 66 in the morning. Ben Kohles, who turned pro last summer and won his first two starts on the Web.com Tour, had a 67.

There was room for veterans, too.

Piercy made it look like a breeze, especially compared with the vicious gusts last week at the Tournament of Champions that didn't start until Monday and ended 29 hours later on Tuesday. In a more gentle breeze, and on the more traditional greens of Waialae, he played bogey-free and had a pair of two-putt birdies from inside 12 feet for a 66.

One group failed to finish before darkness. Seventy players in the 144-man field broke par, the group included a pair from the Champions Tour. Russ Cochran, who won the Senior British Open in 2011, had a 68 and Fred Funk was at 70.

Piercy, the Canadian Open champion, was among 20 players who started their season last week on Maui, even though it took until the fourth day - when the Tournament of Champions was supposed to end - that the tournament actually began.

 
 
 

 

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