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February 3, 2006

J.J. Henry

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, J. J., for joining us here in the media center at the FBR Open. What a day out there, seven birdies in a row, just lit it up out there, and some beautiful weather. Just talk about what was going right out there.

J.J. HENRY: It was one of those days. The hole looked big for some reason. Like you said, it's nice to play well here, especially with the big crowds and the weather. I always look forward to coming to this event, and it was nice to really get on that roll. I didn't hit it real, real close, to be honest with you. I had a tap in birdie, I guess, on 13, the par 5. But I hit a lot of good shots and my speed was really good today on the greens.

I think if you keep the ball in the fairway, and of course you never know you're going to make seven in a row, but just one of those days where everything felt good. I felt comfortable out there. And of course, the more birdies you make, almost the more comfortable you get.

Towards the end, actually for the first time after I made that birdie putt on 15, I looked at my caddie and said, "If we birdie the last three holes, there's that magic number."

It was just a great day, especially to do it in front of all these people in this atmosphere. It's a lot of fun out there.

Q. Is it your nature to make a lot of birdies? And what's been the longest streak in the past?

J.J. HENRY: To be honest with you, I've always felt like I've played my best on hard courses, believe it or not. This was by far, I think, by a couple shots, my low round out here on Tour. This is my sixth full year, and I want to say maybe my best; before that was 63 or 64.

Again, I know I'm capable of it. And again, I feel like when I click on all cylinders like I did, I can shoot a low score. But I've always felt like, if anything, my putting is what's held me back a little bit in the five years I've been out here.

I feel like when I putt well, I jump and climb that leaderboard, and I was able to do that today.

Q. I think on the first hole you had that 32 foot

J.J. HENRY: It was great. It definitely set the tone for the day. I hit a bad drive and made a 33 footer for par. Even if I missed it, I was trying to keep a good attitude and say some of my best rounds are when I start with a bogey. I was able to make that putt. I made a couple good pars and made birdie on 4 to get the day going.

Q. Could you talk about those holes 9 through 15 and what shots out as you evaluate those.

J.J. HENRY: I was very relaxed. I guess you could say I was in that zone, so to speak. The 9th hole, I killed a drive down there and had a little gap wedge, hit it probably ten feet right of the hole, made that one.

10th hole I wanted to stay aggressive. I knew the pins were in the back of the green so I whipped a driver right over that bunker and had probably 60 yards to the hole and hit another good shot in there about ten feet.

11th hole, I hit a great 3 wood off the tee and an 8 iron that landed just past the hole and skipped by probably 20 feet or so and made that.

12, the par 3 there, I hit an 8 iron, basically hit it right where I was aiming, just trying to get it in the middle of the green. It was a tough pin on that front right. I made a great putt.

I was playing with Parnevik, and he made it from just about the same line I did, about 30 feet, I guess, and I drained it right on top of him. Now I'm kind of laughing, I'm starting to really get it going.

Next hole was a par 5. Killed a drive, hit it probably 330 yards right down the middle and hit a 7 iron into 13 just on the fringe and two putted from about 15 feet.

14, I actually hit kind of really probably the worst drive I hit all day, but it turned out to be okay, just in the left rough. And hit a 7 iron probably 30 feet short of the hole, right under the hole in a good spot, and I rolled that one right in the middle of the hole.

15, now I'm thinking, here's an opportunity to really finish strong and who knows what might happen, and just blocked my drive a little bit on 15, had to lay up short, couldn't go for it in two, and then hit not a real good wedge shot, to be honest, landed in that hill and kind of spun back, and hit another great putt from about 25 feet.

And then really the only hole I didn't birdie in that stretch was 16. And I hit a good shot in there about 10 or 12 feet and just missed it on the right side.

Again, I birdied 17, too. I hit it near really the toughest pin by far on that green, all the way in the back, which is normally where it is on Sunday. I wanted to make sure I could keep it short enough where I'd still have a shot back there, hit a 3 wood over that middle bunker just short of the green and didn't hit a great chip, but really kind of a tough shot because it falls away from you the last 30 feet. It kind of landed short and kind of a feed dying putt right in the middle of the hole.

Q. So you putted that on 17?

J.J. HENRY: I chipped it up about 30 feet and made about a 30 footer for birdie there.

And then 18, drove it just a bit right with a 3 wood and hit a pretty good shot from the lie I had right, kind of falling down off the green left. It was kind of a nice way to end the day, made about a ten footer for par. I played pretty good but it was definitely the putting.

Q. After 15 and you had that streak and you had that birdie, you kind of shook your head smiling.

J.J. HENRY: Yeah, when you play golf as much as we do, so to speak, you always kind of strive for those kind of days. It was just one of those things where it was just my day, I guess. Hey, hopefully it's my turn, for that matter (laughter).

Again, coming in, I take a lot of time off in the off season. This is just my third event of the year. I didn't feel like I was playing real well or playing great. I missed my first two cuts this year, just really wasn't playing well, hitting the ball good. Then I got here Monday morning and really spent a lot of time Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, knowing that I like this tournament.

I've played decent here for a couple years a couple rounds. I knew I could have been better than what I shot yesterday and everything just fell into place.

Q. When you say you take time off in the off season, do you compete in exhibitions?

J.J. HENRY: Not a lot. I play a lot. I played probably 30 events or 31 events. I have a little boy who's a year and a half and I had a nice opportunity to just spend time at home and relax. With as much playing as we do this is my sixth year and I've never really played well on the West Coast. I've always been kind of a second half of the year player, for some odd reason. I grew up in the northeast. I live in Texas now, but I've never really played well in the middle of the year. Hopefully maybe this is a sign of good things to come here early in the year.

Q. Not a lot of early golf to be played in the northeast?

J.J. HENRY: Well, I do live in Texas. But growing up, I never played golf this time of year. I played basketball through high school and stuff. I enjoyed taking some time off. It's nice to have a day like I did today.

Q. You guys can never look too far forward, but how do you feel about this for the next two days?

J.J. HENRY: Well, obviously I feel pretty good today, but as we all know in golf, tomorrow is another day, so to speak. I don't want to downplay the fact how good I played today, but knowing there's a lot of golf left, I'm pretty realistic. Who's to know, somebody might go out tomorrow in good weather and do what I did today.

Again, I'm in a great spot, obviously, and I'm looking forward to the challenge. If you play well, you've got 150,000 people screaming your name. It could be a lot of fun tomorrow, there's no doubt. Or it'll be fun, regardless if I shoot 61 again or 81, I'm going to have a good time tomorrow. That's what it's all about.

If I relax and have a good time, I'll probably play well.

Q. Have you made any recent changes with your putter or your putting stroke?

J.J. HENRY: I did go back to my belly putter this week. I've kind of tinkered for years back and forth. You know, it's a putter that I've used really in years past or weeks past, and again, it was more the speed.

Even when I went like the last couple weeks, my line was good; I was coming up short. Today I made an effort to say, "I'm not going to leave the ball short. I'm going to try to get the ball in the hole." It's amazing, the ball goes in.

Q. When was the last time you used the belly putter?

J.J. HENRY: Probably late last fall.

Q. How many 25 or 30 footers do you think you had today?

J.J. HENRY: Probably five or six, I would guess.

Q. Because you only mentioned the one and then all those you mentioned in the run there.

J.J. HENRY: Yeah, the pins were still in some pretty tough spots. It was hard to get to some of those pins. On the 11th hole I don't think you could hit two better shots than I hit. The ball landed about four or five paces short of the hole, the pin is right on the front left on the downslope and I'm coming in with an 8 iron. When I say 20 feet, some of those were still really good quality golf shots.

Q. You're 14 under at the midpoint. Is this like the best position you've been in to win a tournament?

J.J. HENRY: Oh, absolutely. You know, I mean, any time you shoot 10 under, odds are you're going to be in a pretty good spot. And I played well yesterday, too. It's not like I shot 4 over yesterday and came back and shot 10 under today. So again, I haven't made a bogey in 36 holes.

Again, I feel like I'm a player that seems to make a lot of pars. I don't really make a lot of big numbers, knock on wood, but I do hit a lot of greens and make a lot of pars. I'm happy to play well this early in the year.

I think I saw a stat, I was traveling somewhere, from like June or July I was second on Tour in scoring average. So to be able to kind of put it together early in the year, again, like I talked about, I've never really kind of played well early, so it's nice to get off to regardless of what happens, knowing that I played well, I've got it in me and hopefully I'll continue to play well, whether it's this week, next week or a couple weeks.

Q. You mentioned having 150,000 people saying your name when you're playing well. For people who don't know that experience, can you kind of describe what that's like when you're in a groove and the entire gallery is talking about it and you know it and not letting it affect your play?

J.J. HENRY: Well, again, if you're playing well, it's great. Obviously if maybe things aren't going your way, it can be a little bit of a distraction, so to speak. When you're in the zone like I was and when you're making putts and you're doing what you're doing again, we all practice and we all work hard to put ourselves in these positions.

You know, I mean, I'm very competitive and athletic, and again, we work hard and strive to do hopefully to win a golf tournament. I haven't won yet out here. I've been out here for six years and I've kept my card the first five years and I've finished 2nd a couple times, but it's nice to be in the hunt and have everything going on this week. It's a lot of fun to be here.

Q. What have been your personal first or second highlights in golf at any level, whether it's pro or amateur?

J.J. HENRY: Well, this has got to be right up there. Again, this is my lowest round as a professional, for sure. Really in a competitive round, so to speak.

You can always remember a couple times when you first won or when you did things, but from a single round of golf, I mean, this one definitely sticks out as probably pretty close to the top.

Q. How often do you get back to Connecticut?

J.J. HENRY: Quite a bit. I was there for the holidays. I was up around Thanksgiving. All my family is still up there. My wife is from Texas and we met in college, and we live there now. But again, I enjoy going up there and getting away from golf a little bit, for sure.

Q. Hartford is kind of the northeast version of the Phoenix tournament with the crowds and stuff.

J.J. HENRY: Without a doubt. Being from Connecticut, I kind of carry the flag, so to speak, without a doubt. I mean, I think next to Phoenix they get the biggest crowds on Tour. Again, if you play if you're playing well, you can really feed off what's going on out there. I was able to do that today for sure, even playing as early as I did, finishing on those last four or five holes, kind of as people kind of said, well, what's going on here, it got pretty fun the last four or five holes.

Q. Is there any part of your family here to share that with you?

J.J. HENRY: My wife and son are here. I have a little boy who's about a year and a half, and I'm going back here in a little while to play with him and keep things in perspective a little bit. But again, they travel with me quite a bit. I'm lucky to have a great wife and family. It's a lot of fun.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, J. J., for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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