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5 Things: Henley leads McGladrey with hot putter

Russell Henley is having quite the week at the McGladrey Classic. Henley took the 36-hole lead Friday with a second-round 7-under 63 at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Ga.

Henley stands at 9 under at the midway point of the tournament, one shot clear of Brian Harman, Brendon de Jonge and Andrew Svoboda.

Here are 5 Things to know from Friday’s action at Sea Island:

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1. HENLEY ROCKING AND ROLLING: After bogeying his opening hole (No. 10), Russell Henley figured he just needed to hang in there to make the cut at the McGladrey Classic. He couldn’t have predicted what happened next.

Henley made eight birdies over his next 17 holes to shoot a 7-under 63 and take the lead through 36 holes in St. Simons Island.

Henley, who has two career PGA Tour victories, made 91 feet of birdie putts Friday on Sea Island’s Seaside Course.

“You know, if you ask me, I would say I’m a great putter, and I think if you want to be a great putter, I think you have to believe that you’re a great putter,” Henley said.

Henley said he has a daily reminder on his phone for noon that says “I’m the best putter in the world.”

“You know, I think I’ve found my formula to when I know I’m putting well,” Henley said. “I’m not putting much pressure on myself and just really enjoying putting.”

Not only is Henley enjoying his time on the course at Sea Island, but he also kicked off the week playing guitar on stage with country singer Darius Rucker.

Watch Henley jam to Dave Matthews Band’s “Jimi Thing” at the 2013 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

“I asked him the other day if he wanted to bet, because he was playing in front of me in the pro-am,” Henley said. “And after about nine holes I yelled up to him, ‘Do you want to buy out for half,’ because I knew I was beating him, and he finally said, ‘Yeah.’

“And he texted me when he got done, he said, ‘Hey, are you going to be at the show tonight so I can pay you?’ I said, ‘Actually, I’ll be there, but if you just want to let me play ‘Wagon Wheel’ with you, you don’t have to pay me anything.’ He said, ‘done deal.’ ”

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2. MORE ROLLING: Crimson Tide players rolled in the second round of the McGladrey, and expect it to continue Saturday morning at Sea Island as former Alabama teammates Justin Thomas and Cory Whitsett are in back-to-back pairings after making the cut on the number at even par.

Thomas got off to a rough start Thursday and recorded a 4-over 74. But he responded Friday with a 66 and made his first PGA Tour cut in three tries this season. Whitsett, making his first Tour start of the season after receiving a sponsor exemption, shot a second consecutive 70.

Thomas and Whitsett were among 88 players to make the cut. Twenty-two of those players advanced on the number.

As for those who missed out on the weekend, that group includes Harris English (1 over), Max Homa (1 over), Sam Saunders (1 over), Zach Johnson (4 over) and Russell Knox (6 over).

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3. SEA ISLAND COMFORT: Sea Island’s Seaside course brings back some good memories for Brendon Todd.

As a Georgia Bulldog in 2004, Todd won medalist honors at Sea Island to seal an SEC Championship victory for the Bulldogs over rival Florida and star Gator Matt Every.

“I just remember with three holes left I think I probably had a one?shot lead, and Buddy (Alexander, former Florida head coach) was out there walking with Matt, and he could tell Matt was so frustrated because I was making putts and he wasn’t,” said Todd. “And then I missed the green left on 17 to that front-left pin, and I flopped it up there to like 6 feet and made it, and he just rolled his eyes and was like, I surrender.”

That’s one of many memories Todd has made on the St. Simons Island, Ga., track. Todd estimates that he’s played here more than 30 times, with 16 of those rounds coming in SEC Championships. He has also played a Southern Junior and an AJGA Canon Cup at Sea Island.

“They haven’t changed a single tee box, and I think (Georgia alumni) are probably more comfortable hitting all these shots where you’re carrying hazards with the bunker through the fairway and potentially a cross?wind than most guys,” said Todd. “I mean I’ve played more here than any golf course on Tour.”

The experience shows. At 3 under for 36 holes, Todd is tied for 28th and is one of seven former Georgia players in the top 28. Russell Henley leads at 9 under while Erik Compton and Chris Kirk are T-10. Kevin Kisner and Hudson Swafford are T-28.

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4. SHOT OF THE DAY: OK, so there weren’t any 100-yard hole-outs or holes-in-one Friday, but this 40-foot chip-in birdie by Brian Harman at the par-4 16th was pretty nice:

Harman shot 3-under 67 in the second round to move to 8 under, one shot back of leader Russell Henley.

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5. SHORT SHOTS: Local boy and Sunday qualifier Patton Kizzire made the cut with rounds of 66-71. Sunday qualifier? Yes, that is correct, and you can read more about Kizzire by clicking here. … Last week’s PGA Tour winner Ben Martin made the cut and is tied for 41st halfway through the tournament.

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