Henley wins Shell Houston Open to earn Masters start

Russell Henley picked up his third PGA Tour title and a trip to Augusta

Russell Henley wins Shell Houston Open, earns Masters start
Russell Henley wins Shell Houston Open, earns Masters start
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Russell Henley made 10 birdies in his final round to overhaul Sung Kang, win the Shell Houston Open and secure a place in the field for the U.S. Masters.

Russell Henley is going to the U.S. Masters after winning his third PGA Tour title in the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston. His only remaining chance of earning a place at Augusta was through victory in this event and, with 10 birdies in a final round of 65, he managed it.

"I wasn't expecting to go back to Augusta," he said. "I was planning on not going, but I was going to try my best to win. So, the fact I get to go back is pretty cool and I'm excited. It hasn't really sunk in yet."

Henley trailed Sung Kang of South Korea going into the final round but, as Kang faltered, Henley rallied. He made five birdies in his first eight holes to catch the South Korean and despite a blip at the par-3 9th where he dropped two shots, he didn’t let up on the run for home. He carded five more birdies on the back nine to pull clear and win by two.

“I made 10 birdies today?” He said afterwards. “Yeah well that is the best round I’ve ever played then I guess."

Kang held on for second place and was able to take the positives from a strong performance.

"This week is going to be very memorable for me," Kang said. "I played really solid the first few rounds and then it shifted for two rounds. I'll keep grinding out and working out and hopefully, I can get a chance next time."

Rickie Fowler finished tied third with Luke List while Daniel Berger rounded out the top five.

3 Talking points from the Shell Houston Open

1 – Russell Henley is the third player in the last four years to earn a place in the U.S. Masters through securing victory in this tournament. The slot is only available to the champion so if the event is won by someone already qualified, the offer is obsolete.

2 – Rickie Fowler looked to be the biggest threat to Kang’s lead coming into the final day but he struggled to begin with and was three over through his first four holes after two badly hooked drivers. Although he recovered to shoot 70, the damage was done. “Just an alignment problem,” he said after. “Cost me a few shots but I made some good swings and hit some good shots and fought back.” He’ll be taking some confidence into The U.S. Masters next week.

Rickie Fowler - 90 minute warm-up:

3 – Jon Rahm continued his good play ending the week in a tie for 10th. He’s playing in his first Masters but he doesn’t hold sway with the opinion that first timers don’t win at Augusta. “They’re not supposed to win at Torrey Pines either, are they?” he said.

Shell Houston Open Golf Club of Houston, Humble, Texas Mar 30 – Apr 2 Purse: $7,000,000 Par: 72

1    Russell Henley (USA)    67    67    69    65    268    $1,260,000 2    Sung Kang (Kor)        65    63    71    72    271    $756,000 T3    Rickie Fowler (USA)    64    71    67    70    272    $406,000 T3    Luke List (USA)        68    71    65    68    272    $406,000 5    Daniel Berger (USA)    70    67    71    67    275    $280,000 6    Hudson Swafford (USA)    67    67    75    67    276    $252,000 7    Rafael Campos (PRC)    69    71    68    69    277    $234,500 T8    Zac Blair (USA)        69    67    75    67    278    $210,000 T8    Kyle Stanley (USA)    66    71    71    70    278    $210,000 T10    Andrew Loupe (USA)    68    70    72    69    279    $182,000 T10    Jon Rahm (Esp)        71    72    69    67    279    $182,000

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?