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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Henley Leads Golfers

From UGA Athletics...

About the only thing that could stop Georgia's Russell Henley at the NCAA Championship on Wednesday was the weather.

Henley shot a 4-under-par 67, including a streak of four straight birdies, to take over the individual lead at the Inverness Club. Henley also helped keep Georgia in the mix in the team standings as the Bulldogs posted a 1-over 285 for a second-place total of 5-over 573, five shots behind Oklahoma State's 568.

Mother Nature made her presence known on Wednesday as the teams endured a rain and lightning delay of more than four hours. Georgia was one of the 15 teams able to finish the second round. The other squads made it through about half of their round before play was suspended due to darkness. The second round will be completed with 6:45 a.m. tee times and the third round will start once the second round is over and the teams are re-paired.

The NCAA individual champion will be crowned following the third round. In addition, the low eight squads will advance to a match play tournament that will be played Friday and Saturday to determine the team national champion. Georgia won the team titles in 1999 and 2005, and George Hamer in 1946 was the first - and still only - Bulldog to claim medalist honors.

"I honestly am trying not to worry about it," said Henley, who is tied with North Carolina State's Matt Hill at 4-under 138. "My goal is to help our team get as high as we can in the top eight. I want to have good pre-shot routines, pick good targets and make good decisions. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself. We don't want to just shoot for the top eight; we want to finish on top."

On Thursday, the Bulldogs started on the back nine, where Henley closed with birdies on Nos. 15 through 18. His third birdie putt covered about 25 feet. Said Henley, "I got into a good rhythm and was hitting the best putts I could." He also had a birdie on No. 7 coming out of the weather delay. Georgia additionally got birdies on No. 8 from sophomore Harris English and on No. 9 from senior Brian Harman.

"When the horn blew, I knew where everybody was on the course and that we were in good shape, and I knew we had a chance to come out of the break and get some quick ones," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "We responded right out of the gate. Brian's birdie on 18 was a nice way to finish to send us into the third round."

Told that Henley's focus was on helping the Bulldogs grab the top spot in the team standings rather than winning the individual title, Haack said he wasn't surprised.

"That's the kind of character he has," Haack said. "Knowing him, the individual title isn't even in his mind. Helping the team is always his goal."

Harman shot an even-par 71 in the second round, while senior Adam Mitchell had a 2-over 73 and English posted a 3-over 74. Junior Hudson Swafford had the Bulldogs' non-counting score of 7-over 78.

Harman moved to even-par 142, followed by English at 5-over 147, Swafford at 9-over 151 and Mitchell at 10-over 152.

Live scoring, tee times and pairings can be found at

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