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June 29, 2016

J.J. Henry

Reno, Nevada

THE MODERATOR: We're here with J.J. Henry, defending champion of the Barracuda Championship. Talk to us about how you're feeling heading into this place, a place where you've won twice?

J.J. HENRY: I like the sound of the defending championship to start off, sure. I love coming here. I've been here since '01, since my rookie year.

To be able to win an event now twice and a lot of other top finishes. For whatever reason I just get great vibes when I get off the plane and kind of drive up Mount Rose Highway there and into Montreux. And just a cool event where obviously the community kind of embraces it, whether you're on the lakeside or downtown Reno. And it's just a beautiful place. I can't imagine a nicer place to be here in late June, early July, to spend a week and get to play a golf tournament, too. It's great to be back.

I haven't had the best of years, to be honest with you; but, frankly, I really wasn't playing, I'd say, great going into last year's event. Just things just seemed to turn for me. This is my 16th year out here. I know what to expect. I don't think there's any place where I'd rather be to try to defend my title and enjoy ourselves. And sounds like we'll have great weather and looking forward to the Stableford system and the fun that comes along with that.

Q. What do you remember about that Sunday last year? Obviously Kyle made a heck of a charge to make the playoff happen. And obviously the eagle putt on the first hole.
J.J. HENRY: It's funny, I looked up, I was in the last group on Sunday, I look up and I was about 14. And I think Kyle was already done. And he had X amount of points. And I was like: Wow, something special must have really happened out there. I think I had to birdie maybe three of the last five holes to kind of force a playoff. I had a chance in regulation to hit a great shot in there and just missed an eagle to win it outright.

And kind of a really neat playoff. It's a great, kind of a dramatic hole, par 5, dogleg left down the hill. We both hit great shots, both birdied the first playoff hole. And then to ice it, icing on the cake, if you will, to make an eagle putt from about 20 feet or so, just off the left fringe. Give it the old fist pump and turn around.

And it probably looked fun, but it was just one of those deals where it's, when it's your time, it's your time. And it was nice to be able to finish it off in exciting fashion like we did. And, again, the way the event sets up with the system and the format and the scoring format, kind of bodes for a lot of excitement and stuff coming down the stretch.

And it compares a lot to when we used to play at Castle Pines, the International, you're playing at altitude. You're factoring in elevation change, altitude, wind. So there's a lot of things. Heat, sometimes, depending on the time of day you play. Between the morning and the afternoon the ball seems to travel farther as well. So there's a lot of adding and subtracting going on this week. And for whatever reason I've been able to figure it out over all these years.

Q. You've always done well here. What is it about the course that sets up so well for you?
J.J. HENRY: Suits my eye. I just love the way it looks, the way it feels. I don't know, I wish I could tell you. I wish I could figure it out more often. But I just love the way it looks and feels. There's a lot to it.

The horses for courses, if you will. But you look over where guys tend to play well and what events and stuff, and there's a lot to that. So for whatever reason -- it's a lot of embracing just kind of wanting to be here and enjoy both on and off the golf course. There's a lot of fun stuff to do.

Kind of the mix of golf and fun and kind of keeping your head on straight and obviously the altitude and all the things go into that. I've been able to kind of figure out how to do it. It's been fun. Can't give away all my secrets, right. I've got 131 guys to beat again this week.

Q. Talk about this course in terms of driving the ball off the tee. It seems pretty liberal. You can be a little wild at times.
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, the fairways are generous. But if you do kind of venture off, there's definitely trouble to be had, if you will. But the fairways are generous. And obviously the ball travels so far. So you're not hitting driver on most holes out here, to be honest with you. At least I'm not.

It's a handful of drivers. It's a good mix of some 3-woods and some hybrids and long irons on some holes. There's a good mix of -- again, because it necessarily doesn't play its true yardage, if you will, based on the elevation and the altitude, that is just -- it's more of a placement type golf course.

And the greens can be kind of tricky, too. You gotta kind of figure out the speed and the break, like anywhere, but seems to be more so here, get everything kind of running towards the valley and different things. So there's a lot of X factors, if you will. Not necessarily just with a driver on every hole and going to hit it again.

Q. We just had Jon Rahm in here. Talk about his game and what you saw.
J.J. HENRY: I don't know Jon very well. But it's extremely impressive. Obviously I follow golf and college golf and what he did. I live in Fort Worth, Texas, and real close to -- do a lot with the Ben Hogan Foundation and the legacy of Ben Hogan. Back-to-back Ben Hogan Award winner, among other things.

So he seems like a really, really nice kid, too. I've heard some different interviews and stuff with him. Seems like his head, if you will, is in the right spot and he's very well spoken. And I think another great asset to the future of professional golf as far as these young and up-and-coming guys, not only are they great players but they seem to be great ambassadors for the game. And I think Jon is another example of that.

Q. You have Barracuda on the hat?
J.J. HENRY: Absolutely. We had a fun little outing with them last night at the lake with their clients and customers.

It's nice to not only, obviously, win the event, but then to be kind of something bigger and better than that as far as to kind of be a part of their team or their brand, and kind of their family, if you will. So I'm very lucky on that front.

Q. When Jon was up here, he was talking about getting here and playing the altitude and how much of a shock it was for him. Can you explain how difficult really dealing with the altitude is when you're out here?
J.J. HENRY: Sometimes it's just hard to believe. You know what I mean? It's like you or your caddie figure yardage, I've got 220 yards or something. Well, yeah, it's downhill and downwind and the altitude, arguably it could be a 8- or 9-iron sometimes. You know it looks forever and sometimes you have to trust your instincts and trust the fact that it is what it is.

That's why a lot of times you'll see more people this week or more players missing balls long than short because sometimes it's hard to believe the ball, especially we're supposed to get a lot of warm weather, so the warmer it gets, the ball seems to go a lot farther.

So you gotta kind of pick your spots. But at the same time you need to trust the fact it's playing 160 yards or something and not 220, if you will.

Q. Forgive me if somebody already asked you this already. But having the chance to play for a spot in the British Open, how much more does this make this tournament?
J.J. HENRY: Absolutely. That was awesome news when I heard that. Just adds another piece, if you will. You know something for the Golf Channel on TV to talk about, coming down the stretch.

Not only is he trying to win the tournament but maybe he's trying to play in his first Open Championship or whatever it might be.

So anytime you kind of add another dimension, I think Barracuda, from what I understand, is doing a fun charitable aspect on 18.

I think the low pro over four days -- you guys might know a little bit more about it -- but the low pro over four days, most points, the charity -- it goes to their charity of choice. And I think a local charity as well.

In addition to the cool Stableford format, there's a lot of neat dynamics, whether it's the spot for the Open or things for -- whether fans or TV or even the players to talk about. It just adds another unique feature to the event.

Q. Has it added any more pressure? You said you've done it 16 years. Does it add any more pressure for you, as far as just having the spot for the Open?
J.J. HENRY: No, to be honest, it's basically more than likely it's going to go to the winner, which is a great kind of feather in the cap in addition to getting to play in the PGA Championship and playing at the Tournament of Champions and everything else, to say: Wow, I get to play in the Open Championship in two weeks is almost icing on the cake.

So I don't think I'm necessarily like, gosh -- it's more of the fact that what comes with the win, I think. Because really it's just the one spot.

So it's basically, hey, whoever wins the tournament more than likely is also getting an opportunity to play in the Open Championship.

So there's no bigger event worldwide than playing in the Open. So it will be -- heck, I've been fortunate to play in a bunch, but it will be a neat way to kind of spend a couple of weeks in July, that's for sure.


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