PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fl. –Russell Henley survived a challenging back nine and a four-man playoff to claim his second PGA Tour win on Sunday at The Honda Classic.
Henley two-putted for birdie on the first playoff hole for victory, besting Rory McIlroy, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox in extra holes at PGA National.
Last season, Henley won his first event as a PGA Tour member. It took him 33 events to win again.
“I enjoy the rush,” Henley said of playing in front of the large crowds at PGA National. “That’s why you play. It’s going to take a long time for this (win) to sink in.”
With the playoff starting on the par-5 18th, it appeared that the second shots would likely determine the winner. And they did.
Knox was forced to layup from the fairway bunker. Henley found the green, about 40 feet from the hole. Palmer missed the green left. And, McIlroy, last to play, found the bunker behind the green.
Knox hit his third to about 25 feet and missed his birdie attempt. Palmer chipped to within 12 feet and missed. McIlroy’s bunker shot ran through the green and he fluffed his chip. Meanwhile, Henley’s eagle putt settled about 3 feet from the hole and he made the putt to win.
The leaders had plenty of problems in regulation, dropping a number of shots on the back nine. McIlroy, who entered with a two-shot lead that would later grow to as much as three, wasn’t immune. He bogeyed the 13th, double-bogeyed the 16th after finding the water on his approach and bogeyed the 17th.
He then hit a laser-like second shot from 245 yards into the par-5 18th to 15 feet. His eagle putt would have won it outright but it slid just by and he tapped in for birdie and a 74.
Palmer saved par on the 18th to card a 69 to finish at 8 under with Knox (71) and Henley (72).
After Henley’s birdie chip came up short on the 18th, the stage was left to McIlroy. But he just missed his eagle putt.
“I was fortunate that I was in the playoff,” McIlroy said. “I didnt play well enough at all down the stretch to win this tournament.”