March 2, 2014
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Russell Henley made good on his second chance at the 18th hole Sunday and won the Honda Classic after a wild day that ended with a four-man playoff.
Henley was in a three-way tie for the lead, 40 yards left of the flag on the par-5 18th in regulation, when he chunked a chip so badly that it only got halfway to the hole. He had to two-putt for par, and then watched as Rory McIlroy nearly made a great escape from an otherwise bad afternoon. McIlroy, who lost a two-shot lead, hit a 5-wood from 236 yards to just inside 12 feet for an eagle and the win. It narrowly slid by on the right.
In the playoff, Henley was the only player to reach the 549-yard hole in two, and he two-putted from about 40 feet for birdie. Ryan Palmer missed a 10-foot birdie putt. McIlroy went from the back bunker to the front collar and had to scramble for par, and Russell Knox laid up and missed a 20-foot birdie attempt. They all finished at 8-under 272.
"This isn't going to sink in for a while," Henley said.
Henley, who closed with a 72, won for the second time and qualified for the Masters. He also moves into the top 50 in the world ranking, making him eligible for the Cadillac Championship next week at Doral.
Henley is the fourth Bulldog to win on the PGA TOUR this year, joining Chris Kirk (The Gladrey Classic), Harris English (OHL Classic at Mayakoba) and Bubba Watson (Northern Trust Open).
Palmer missed a 5-foot par in regulation that would have won it. He closed with a 69, the only player in the last six groups to break par. Knox needed a birdie on the last hole, but he went from the fairway bunker to the rough, well over the green and then calmly made a par putt just inside 10 feet for a 71 to get in the playoff.
It was the first playoff at PGA National since 2007, which also featured four players.
Henley tied for the lead by chipping in for birdie on the 14th, only to deposit his tee shot on the par-3 15th into the water for double bogey. Palmer missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, which wasn't nearly as damaging as the par putts he missed from eight feet on the 16th and five feet on the 18th.
Knox fell out of a brief share of the lead when he tried to play from the right rough on the 14th and had his shot carom into the water for a double bogey.