AUGUSTA, Ga. - Former University of Georgia golfer Russell Henley didn't know he would be going to the 2017 Masters until this past Sunday evening. Henley won the Shell Houston Open earlier in the week, and it punched his ticket into the first major tournament of the year.
"You've got to change your plans around and find a house," said Henley. "Now my family is coming in town. I'm just excited to be here again. This is surreal."
Henley said he started planning his last minute trip to Augusta with a few holes left at the Shell Houston Open.
"It hasn't sunk in. It kind of feels like a dream, and I love it," said Henley.
Other former UGA golfers took notice of Henley's last second win to qualify for the Masters.
"The way he was kind of playing last week, I actually played with him on Saturday, I mean he was playing some really good golf," said fellow Bulldog alumnus Hudson Swafford. "Man he was playing some really good golf. I wasn't really shocked to see him win."
Henley is back for a forth time at Augusta National Golf Course, a place he came to with family as he grew up in Macon, Georgia.
"I remember just going down the two green and just feeling the grass," said Henley. "I was just overwhelmed by all the color, and you just don't see anywhere this green. You try to just enjoy every step, but it flies by."
This is not his first time qualifying for the Masters, but this one feels special after missing the Masters field last year.
"It is. My first three years on tour I made every major, most of the WGC's, and I just felt like that was what I was going to be doing," said Henley. "Then last year I didn't play that well. I felt like last year was the best year for me as a person because I learned so much about my game and what works for me. It's definitely probably why I'm back here now."
The other benefit for Henley is that he runs into many friends and familiar faces when returning to Augusta, and he gets another chance to win that green jacket.