HONOLULU Two days into his PGA Tour career, Russell Henley was on his way to breaking a record.
Henley putted for birdie on every hole on his way to a second straight round of a 7-under 63, giving him a two-shot lead over fellow rookie Scott Langley among early starters Friday in the Sony Open. He was 14-under 126, which would break the 36-hole scoring record at this event by two shots.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Henley said.
In the first full-field event of the season, the rookies were leading the way. All they did on another windy, warm day along the shores of Oahu was trade places atop the leaderboard. Langley opened with a 62 and followed that with a 66. That typically would be enough to stay in the lead.
Langley said he tried to stay aggressive, and then he felt he had no choice. He birdied his last three holes to reach 128.
Unless anyone could catch them in the afternoon, they would play together a third straight time, in the last group going into the weekend. The college grads first were linked when they shared low amateur honors at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open.
“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. He played so well, and I was just trying to keep pace as much as I can. To finish that way was really good.”
The previous 36-hole record at the Sony Open was 128 by five players, most recently John Cook in 2002.
Among the late starters was Scott Piercy, who opened with a 64 and already was at 10 under for the tournament as he headed to his back nine.
Chris Kirk made a pair of tap-in eagles – a 5-iron into the wind to 3 feet on the ninth, a 7-iron with the wind to 2 feet on the 18th – for a 62 that put him at 10-under 130 along with Tim Clark, who had a 66.
Pat Perez, working on his new attitude of seeing silver linings instead of black clouds, ran off three straight birdies early in his round for a 63 and was another shot back.
Henley took over the lead for the first time with a shot into 8 feet to a front pin on No. 2, his 11th hole of the day. With birdies on the fifth and sixth holes, it looked as though he might pull away when he stretched his lead to four shots.
Langley came to life with a 7-iron and a 20-foot birdie putt on the seventh, then a sand wedge into the par-4 eighth and more work than he wanted on the par-5 ninth, when he got up-and-down for birdie from near the hospitality tent to the right of the green.
“This feels like a Monday qualifier,” Langley said of the low scores, not to mention the company he has been keeping. Langley and Henley were born two weeks apart.
They became friends after Pebble Beach when they flew together to Royal Portrush for the Palmer Cup, and they helped each other on the practice range when their games were in need of repair.
The difference was their road to the PGA Tour.
Henley won a Nationwide Tour event while still at Georgia, and then he won twice on that tour last year to easily finish among the top 25 on the money list.
Langley, a former NCAA champion from Illinois, went through a bad patch last year when he finished last in the second stage of Q-school and had no status. He kicked around the smaller tours, tried a few Monday qualifiers, and then made his way through Q-school and earned his card with two shots to spare.
They’re neck-and-neck going into the weekend, both hopeful they ride their momentum.
The surprise might be Clark, who was runner-up at the Sony Open two years ago until he suffered a mysterious elbow injury that cost him a year of trying to figure out what was wrong and how to get better. He is close to healthy now, and it’s starting to show.
“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.”
DURBAN, South Africa Louis Oosthuizen made a long birdie putt at the final green to take a one-shot lead after the second round of the Volvo Champions – and swapped a car for an excavator to use on his South African farm.
Oosthuizen had an 8-under 64 Friday on a rain-softened Durban Country Club course for a 12-under 132 total, one shot ahead of Scotland's Scott Jamieson (64) and Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (68).
By sinking the last putt, Oosthuizen's team won a pro-am event that awarded a car to the winners. However, the farming enthusiast talked to organizers and swapped the car for an excavator, which happened to be the prize for anyone who made a hole-in-one at the 15th.
Six others trail Thongchai and Jamieson by six shots.
Oosthuizen added to his collection of agricultural equipment – after raising a few eyebrows when he won the 2010 British Open and spent a large chunk of his prize money on a customized tractor for his farm. On Friday, the South African, Thongchai and an amateur player won the pro-am event.
“I've been nagging my wife for a few years that I want something on the farm as there are a few stumps and things I need to get rid of,” Oosthuizen said. “And that's why I stood over that putt on 18 for a bit longer than normal. So I'm going to play around with it and might dig out a few bunkers.”
Oosthuizen owns a farm near Mosel Bay on the southern coast of South Africa.
Meanwhile, Jamieson said he's focused on winning in Durban for a second time in a month. He recently won Nelson Mandela Championship at the nearby Royal Durban course
“I'm definitely comfortable playing here in Durban and the confidence is high as well, which is all-important,” he said.