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Rookies' PGA debut memorable

HONOLULU — Rookie Scott Langley made a debut on the PGA Tour he won't soon forget.

Rookie Russell Henley wasn't too shabby, either.

Langley thrived on a penetrating ball flight and a pure putting stroke Thursday for 8-under 62, which gave him a one-shot lead over Henley in the Sony Open.

Henley played in the same group with Langley, and they put on a remarkable show along the back nine at Waialae Country Club. Henley, who said he was just trying to keep pace with Langley, made five birdies on the back nine, but he couldn't keep up at the end, when he misplayed a chip on the par-5 18th.

Langley, the 2010 NCAA champion at Illinois, played bogey-free and made a couple of long putts, including a 55-footer for eagle on No. 9.

Scott Piercy and Tim Clark were at 6 under in the first full-field tournament of the season.

St. Petersburg native and Gulf High graduate Darron Stiles was at 2 under, and Tampa resident Ryuji Imada was 2 over.

Langley, an alumnus of the First Tee program for young golfers, is not new to big-time golf. He has qualified for two U.S. Opens and has two top-30 finishes, tying for low amateur — with Henley, no less — at Pebble Beach in 2010.

But considering the nerves he felt on the first tee, and going around this tight course without a bogey, he didn't hesitate to call this round his best as a pro.

Adding to his dream day was being alongside Henley, one of his closest friends.

Henley won on the Nationwide Tour as an amateur and twice more last year to earn his card.

As they walked up the 16th fairway late in the afternoon, they couldn't help but think back to one year ago.

They were playing in a Hooters Tour event in Florida, Henley missing the cut and Langley barely making it, both on the practice range trying to figure out how to get better.

European: Thongchai Jaidee shot 7-under 65 to take a three-stroke lead over Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen on the opening day of the Volvo Champions at Durban, South Africa.

Rookies' PGA debut memorable 01/10/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 12:11am]
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