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Monday, February 23, 2009

High Hopes for Georgia Golfers

In case you weren't aware, Georgia's men's golf team enters the season ranked No. 1 in the country.

The Telegraph's Daniel Shirley caught up with Russell Henley -- one of the Bulldogs' top players and a Stratford Academy alum -- over the weekend to talk about the season ahead...

Russell Henley and the Georgia golf team open their spring season at the Puerto Rico Shootout starting Friday.

And they will do so with the No. 1 ranking in the Golf World/Nike Coaches' poll. But Henley, the former Stratford standout, isn't worried about that ranking. In fact, he believes the ranking is right on the mark.

"I guess it does put a little pressure on us, but I definitely think we have the best team," said Henley, who is one of 22 players on the watch list for the Hogan Award, which goes to the top amateur player in college golf. "If we all play our best, nobody can beat us. I think that ranking is right because if we all play well, no one can beat us."

The Bulldogs, who won twice during the fall, including the Brickyard Collegiate at the Brickyard at Riverside, certainly have plenty of talent. Adam Mitchell and Hudson Swafford are also on the Hogan watch list.

Georgia likely will face a tough task this week in its opening tournament.

"We always play the best tournaments, so we play against the best teams all the time," Henley said. "It should be a great tournament. There should be a lot of good scores and a lot of good golf, but we're ready for the challenge."

Henley sounds ready for the spring portion of his sophomore season. He was named a second-team All-American as a freshman and won the Georgia Amateur Championship at his home course of Idle Hour Club during the summer. During the fall, he had finishes of 20th, 24th and ninth (Brickyard Collegiate) before winning the final event, the Isleworth Invitational.

"I've really been working hard and putting in a lot of work on my game to get ready," Henley said. "I feel good about the spring. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm ready to get back to playing again."

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