HONOLULU, Hawaii: US PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley carded a sparkling 63 to seize a two-shot lead in the $5.6 million Sony Open.
Henley, playing his first tournament as a tour member, had a two-round total of 14-under par 126 — breaking the 36-hole record at this tournament by two strokes.
He teed off on 10 on the par-70 Waialae Country Club course and notched seven birdies without a bogey to separate himself from playing partner and fellow rookie Scott Langley and Scott Piercy.
Langley, the overnight leader after a first-round 62, carded a 66 for 128. Piercy joined him on 12-under with a second straight 64.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Henley said, adding that his main aim as he approached his first season on tour was to try to play his game, learn and become a better player.
“I think with that mindset it takes a little pressure off me,” the 23-year-old said.
He certainly didn’t look as if he felt any pressure on Friday, when he hit every green in regulation.
“I didn’t make every putt that was close, but I was hitting great putts, hitting them like I want to hit them, and some were falling. So I’m happy about it,” he said.
Henley said he benefited from playing with fellow rookie Langley, who birdied his last three holes to stay in the hunt.
The two, who tied for low amateur honors at the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach, will play together again in the final group on Saturday.
“It’s never easy to back up a really good round, I kind of got off to a little slower start,” Langley said. “But it was certainly nice to finish the way I did and kind of get back in it with Russ.”
Matt Kuchar, winner of the Players Championship last year, carded a 63 and was alone in fourth on 129.
South African Tim Clark (66), Chris Kirk (62) and Charles Howell (64) were tied on 130.
Kirk’s effort included two eagles, at the par-five ninth and the par-five 18th.
Clark, who was hampered much of last season with nagging elbow pain, said he thought he now had the problem under control.
“Obviously, I’ve still got to take care of myself and look after it,” Clark said. “But at least coming out to the golf course, I feel like I’m pretty much 100 percent.”
Dustin Johnson, winner of the season-opening Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, which was reduced to 54 holes and finished on Tuesday because of weather, withdrew after nine holes of the second round because of illness.