Scott Langley and Russell Henley put on display of golf at this week's Sony Open in Hawaii. Langley posted the tournament's low round on Thursday with an 8-under, 62. Henley recorded the tournaments low 72 hole total and the 2nd lowest 72 hole total in PGA Tour history on his way to winning the 2013 Sony Open.
Henley posted his third 63 of the week and birdied the final five holes to finish at 24 under par. Henley got off to the start that Langley had typically owned this week with a birdie on the first. A momentum saving par putt on the 6th and another on the 12th positioned Henley a revolving two or three shots clear of his nearest competitor throughout the final round. Despite an early bogey on the 1st, Langley was the one applying the pressure on Henley until his bogey on the 13th. He would make two more bogeys on 15 and 16 before salvaging what was a great week for the native of St. Louis and rookie on the PGA Tour. Langley made consecutive birdies on 17 and 18 to work his way back into a tie for 3rd with Charles Howell III, finishing behind Tim Clark and Langley's good friend and fellow rookie, Russell Henley.
Illinois Golf Coach, Mike Small shared his excitement for Langley on Twitter following Sunday's final round, "Great finish @Scott_Langley! Solid start to a very, very promising career! Illini Nation is very proud! #proudcoach." Fellow teammates were also sounding off on Twitter in support of their fellow Illini.
Winning on the PGA Tour is the objective and clearly if you win consistently you'll enjoy a nice career on the PGA Tour. But winning comes few and far between for most players competing weekly on the PGA Tour leaving them to be concerned about the quality of their finish and the money they earn. The top 125 on the PGA Tour money list maintain their exempt status the following year.
Scott Langley assumed the top spot on the leaderboard after his 8-under par 62 on Thursday. His playing partner and eventual winner, Russell Henley would take a 2-shot lead after Friday's play with Langley in second place. After Saturday's round the two rookies maintained a share of the lead, three shots clear of their playing partner for Sunday's final round, Tim Clark. It wasn't until midway through Sunday's round that Scott Langley began to bounce around the 3rd, 4th or as low as 5th position on the leader board.
Being in 4th or 5th place in a PGA Tour event is remarkable and the money associated with such a finish is lucrative. But the name of the game in professional golf is to make as much money as you can, and in Langley's case, as soon as you can to ensure entry into future tournaments. Langley has full exempt status on the PGA Tour, but that doesn't mean he will get into every tournament as his ranking among the exempt members is low enough some tournaments will fill their field before his number is up. Players in Scott's ranking position can move up the pecking order by virtue of a reshuffle that will take place after the West Coast Swing, making every dollar earned early in the season ever so important. So when Langley started to struggle midway through his back nine on Sunday, it wasn't only the chance of winning he was putting in jeopardy, he was potentially spending some serious money he would need in the reshuffle.
After his round, speaking to the Golf Channel's Todd Lewis, Langley commented, "I really wanted to make two birdies coming in and move up the board". For those that have watched Scott Langley grow up in the game of golf, it's no surprise this 23-year old is mature beyond his years. Despite any disappointment he had in not being in a position to seize his first victory on the PGA Tour, Langley understood the importance of finishing strong and the value of every shot, every dollar in professional golf. As Langley himself posts regularly on his twitter feed, it's all about KGB - Keep Getting Better.