Back at the site of his debut glory, Russell Henley recorded two eagles on Friday and grabbed a three-stroke lead at the midpoint of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Henley ended birdie-birdie-eagle to cap a 7-under-par 63 at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. He sits at 15-under 125, with China’s Haotong Li scored at 12 under following a 65.
Matt Kuchar (second-round 65) is in third at 11 under, and Michael Thompson (67) holds fourth at 10 under.
Stewart Cink (63), Chris Kirk (65), Brandt Snedeker (65), Davis Riley (66), Dylan Wu (66), Patton Kizzire (68), Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (65), Ireland’s Seamus Power (68) and Canadians Corey Conners and Adam Svensson (both 67) are all tied for fifth at 9 under.
Defending champion Kevin Na, the first-round leader, stumbled to a 71 on Friday and is tied for 16th at 8 under.
Henley won his PGA Tour debut in 2013 at the Sony Open, setting a then-tournament-record by finishing at 24-under 256.
On Friday, Henley started his round on the back nine and was at even par before sinking a 43-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole. He followed with a bogey and two pars before logging four birdies on the next five holes. That led to the par-5 ninth hole, where he rolled in a 29-foot eagle putt.
Henley said of returning to a place where he owns a victory, “I mean, I’ve won three times, so not many tournaments I get to say I’m a past champ, so pretty cool. Place hasn’t changed with the clubhouse and everything. Have a lot of really good memories, so, yeah, it’s a cool start to the year for sure.”
Li recorded three birdies on either side of his lone bogey of the day.
Kuchar began his bogey-free round with eight consecutive pars on the back nine before recording five birdies on the next eight holes.
“Another good day,” Kuchar said. “Probably felt in more control (Thursday) than (Friday), but found a good number of fairways. When I did miss, I tended to have (favorable) shots, was fortunate. But started out I think eight straight pars and put on a good run. I think the front nine here is more gettable than the back nine is, and that’s kind of the way it played out for me today.”
Australia’s Cameron Smith, the Tournament of Champions winner last week in Kapalua, Hawaii, missed the cut by three strokes. He shot a 71 on Friday to end up at 2-under 138.