PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Russell Henley got a do-over of sorts at the Honda Classic and he took full advantage of it.
After making a disappointing par five on the 18th hole at the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa, Henley birdied it the next time to win a four-man playoff Sunday afternoon and his second PGA Tour title.
The 549-yard 18th was the first playoff hole and Henley hit a five-wood to reach the green in two, then two-putted from 54 feet after Rory McIlroy, Russell Knox and Ryan Palmer all got pars.
All four men had struggled during a windy final round to finish at eight-under-par 272.
McIlroy, who began the day with a two-shot lead over Henley, shot a four-over 74 after starting with rounds of 63-66-69. Henley shot 72, Knox 71. Only Palmer was under par Sunday, shooting 69.
Billy Hurley III also shot 69 to finish fifth at 273. David Hearn shot 67 and Will MacKenzie shot 70 tie for sixth at 274.
Tiger Woods, who started the day at five under, withdrew after 13 holes because of lower back spasms. He was five over for the day at the time.
The first time he played 18, Henley hit his five-wood into the rough to the left of the green, hit a poor chip and two-putted for par from 56 feet.
“I was about eight yards away from my shot [the first time],” Henley said. “I didn’t know I could hit it that far and I didn’t really trust it that much the first time around.
“So the next time I just said, ‘You know what, all these guys are probably going to make birdie and I just need to trust my swing and not be too worried about where it goes.'"
The victory was worth $1.08 million for Henley, 24, who won his first PGA Tour event as a professional, the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii. He had two other top-10 finishes last year. This season he’d missed the cut in four of nine events, his best finish a 27th.
Although he missed the cut by one shot in his previous tournament, the Northern Trust Open, he said shooting a 66 the second day at Riviera Country Club to almost make the cut gave him confidence coming into the Honda Classic.
For a while, it seemed that no one wanted to win this tournament.
McIlroy, who was trying to go wire-to-wire for the victory, had to birdie No. 18 the first time just to get into the playoff.
“I was fortunate that I was in the playoff,” McIlroy said. “But yeah, 74 today wasn’t good enough to get the job done.”
McIlroy hit his second shot at the 18th to 11 feet, 4 inches from the hole. His eagle putt just slid by the right side of the hole as Henley watched nervously.
“Watching him have that putt to win, it wasn’t a very comfortable feeling,” Henley said. “I think I was just kind of shocked that I kind of let it get to that point. I thought that I would have hit a better chip and not had a 50-footer for birdie on 18 with where I was on the fairway.”
Even before the eagle try, it looked like McIlroy, who bogeyed the 12th hole to fall to 10 under, might still win when his pursuers began to falter.
Henley was at 10 under when he dunked his six-iron tee shot on the 181-yard 15th and double-bogeyed.
“The swing on 15, I didn’t really see coming,” Henley said. “When I let it go, I looked up and it was kind of fading and I was a little bit shocked at that.”
Knox was at 10 under when he found water and double-bogeyed No. 14. For Knox, it was his best finish on the tour, surpassing a tie for ninth in 2012. He and McIlroy and Palmer each won $448,000.
Palmer started the final round tied for fifth. Palmer made his third birdie of the round on the fourth hole to get to 10 under, but never went lower.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times