NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Russell Henley either was playing down his chances or looking at Rory McIlroy’s name high on the leaderboard in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
“Nobody is really expecting me to be sitting here right now,” he said Sunday.
He was sitting atop a crowded leaderboard at the TPC Boston, which is becoming standard fare for these FedEx Cup playoffs. Henley ran off five birdies in a seven-hole stretch around the turn and added a late birdie for a 6-under 65.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Billy Horschel, who closed with three straight birdies for a 67.
Henley has won in each of his two seasons on the PGA Tour. He seems to win and then disappear for months at a time, though he is a serious threat when he gets around the lead. That means he’s hitting the ball where he’s aiming, and the 25-year-old from Georgia is as confident as anyone with the putter.
Even so, it was hard not to look over his shoulder.
McIlroy is the No. 1 player in the world after his back-to-back major wins, with a World Golf Championship sandwiched in between. The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland was so dialed in Sunday that he had birdie putts inside a foot on consecutive holes. He wound up with a 7-under 64 — same as his playing partner, the understated Chris Kirk — and was two shots behind. But this Labor Day finish appeared to be as wide open as last week at The Barclays.
Ten players were separated by only four shots. Five others, including Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, were within five shots of the lead.