MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Russell Henley is playing in Augusta at the Masters.
He’s a local kid, someone a lot of us know. Russell had one of the most clutch performances an athlete can have last week. He had to win the tournament to play this week in the Masters. Henley won it and did just that.
A little over twenty years ago, Davis Love had to win a tournament in New Orleans to play that next week in Augusta. I was covering Davis for a TV station in Brunswick. He won, on the same day that his mentor Harvey Pinnock died, and qualified for the Masters. Not often do we see a golfer have to do something like win one tournament in his last chance to play that next week in Augusta. Love did it back in the 1990s and now Henley did it last week. That’s clutch.
That’s the equivalent of a golfer making a big put for a win. So, what would it mean for us in Middle Georgia if a kid from Macon won the Masters? Well, think of the impact Tiger Woods had globally when he became a star in 1997 – 20 years ago. Tiger changed golf. He made people want to play the sport. And, of course, Tiger’s presence changed the way golfers are paid.
But if Russell won, think of how people would react to it around here. I believe it would make golf the thing to do in Middle Georgia. More people would play, more people would practice. More people would want to get good at it by watching someone who they may know win something like the Masters. It would make golf important, not just for the people who already play the sport, but for the people who may want to learn how to play the sport.
Have you ever watched the Masters on a Sunday afternoon and then wanted to go play a round? Well, just imagine if on that Sunday a kid from Macon was putting on that green jacket. Henley is a good kid, and from all accounts still has his head on straight – even with his success so far in his career. He already gives back his time in the area, and that would probably go to another level if he became a Master’s champion. It would be tremendous to watch a young man that is from Macon win the Masters.
It would obviously change his life to win a green jacket, and it might make golf even more important in Middle Georgia. So while we’re all supposed to be objective around here… Come on, Russell!
Bring that green jacket home to Middle Georgia!