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July 25, 2003

J.J. Henry


TODD BUDNICK: All right, we thank J.J. Henry for stopping by after a 3-under 67 today. J.J., sort of a slow start and then boom, eagle on 10 and you went on a roll from there.

J.J. HENRY: Yes, I knew starting out that the conditions were a little bit better than they were yesterday around. I thought yesterday afternoon they played pretty hard, the wind swirled a little bit and by looking at the scores, I had a really solid round of 4-under. My goal was really to try to get off to a good start, right through the back 9. Unfortunately, I didn't really hit bad shots. I hit the wrong club on both four or five, and made two bogeys. I was 2-over through 5.

I was lucky to get one back on 7, I made a 10-footer for birdie on 7, and then I made the turn at 1-over and all of a sudden the fireworks went off.

I hit a 3-wood down the left side, really crept just left of the tree and then had a perfect number on a 7-iron, never left the flag and it landed right in the bottom of the hole and stayed right in there. It was great. Everybody went nuts. I have a lot of friends and family and fans out there watching. It got me back to under par for the round.

From there I made three great putts on the next three holes, birdied 11, 12 and 13. And unfortunately, bogeyed 17; hit it in the water, but was able to make a good 5 and gave myself a chance on the last hole.

Again this is a great opportunity for me, even if it was halfway through the second round, it was neat, being from Connecticut, or growing up here, I should say, to see my name atop the leaderboard was pretty special. I have been coming here a long time, both as a fan and now this is my fifth GHO. Regardless of what's going to happen it's going to be pretty neat for me.

TODD BUDNICK: Questions?

Q. Your performance so far, does it take a little bit of sting out of missing that qualifier in the Open or is that in the past now?

J.J. HENRY: That was hopefully, maybe, a learning experience for me. Unfortunately I never played in an Open, but to be that close. I know you were there and I talked to you afterwards. You know, those things are going to happen. I'm playing golf. I'm sure it's going to happen again. I can only learn from it. Yes, it kind of got me fired up. I would have loved to have played in the Open. I think that maybe I have kind of the game that I could possibly do well in the Open. My ball striking is my strength. If I hit a lot of fairways and I hit a lot of greens, I seem to make a lot of pars. I like to think when I do get an opportunity maybe I can take advantage of it. Sure, it got me fired up watching it on TV, I guess since then, I played halfway decent. I think I made 5 straight cuts since I didn't qualify. But I'm still knocking on the door and hopefully give myself a chance to win a tournament here in the near future. I always play my best golf. This is my third year on TOUR, I always play my best in the summer months, maybe that's because I grew up here in the area. I'm more familiar with the golf course or the type of grass. I haven't put a finger on why that is. Again, regardless of what happens this weekend, I would like to think that good things are going to happen the last third of the year here or half of the year.

Q. What made you decide to go back to the conventional putter again?

J.J. HENRY: It was more of a feel. I felt like I have always been a really good lag putter. My lag putting wasn't where I think it needed to be. In the long run it's not to say I might go back to it again. In the long run it really helped my stroke, I kept everything connected. Even when I went back to conventional, I think it helped me a thousand times over for the fact it made me a lot more consistent and I was doing a lot of good things. Actually I went to that putter that I'm using about 5 or 6 weeks ago when I didn't qualify for The Open. Again, it got me fired up and I went home and worked on some things with my short game and my putting, I felt I was cutting a lot of my putts. What I mean by that, I was taking it outside in. I went to a heel shaft putter, which gets the toe to swing back and through and it helps me keep the putter down the line. I'm hitting a lot more consistent putts.

Q. J.J., are you not putting that much pressure on yourself to win as in the past and that's why you are doing well?

J.J. HENRY: Well, my caddy and I talked about this: I love to play here and try to play well. It's not easy playing in front of your home fans or your home crowd. Again, being the fact that I came here for a long time and enjoy coming here and seeing a lot of people that maybe I see once or twice a year, it can be hard. It really can be. You know, I have always said, I think really once I get established and get more used to it, I think in years to come I will probably play pretty well here. I enjoy coming here and really like the golf course. I did try to take a little bit different approach to the fact that I'm just trying to go out and have fun and enjoy myself and what happens happens. That seems to work the first two days and hopefully I will continue to do that. Again, that's pretty tough. I do put a little more pressure on myself because I want to do so well. I know the more freer, the more you can free it up on the golf course, the better off you are. You sometimes get tense or you start steering the ball a little bit, that's because you want to do so well. I don't know. But definitely, I'm trying to take more of an approach to just go out and have fun and whatever happens happens, and if I do that, I will do well.

Q. Do you think Suzy may be going through that today?

J.J. HENRY: You know, I don't know how she is doing today.

Q. Not very good.

J.J. HENRY: But you know, she showed a lot of heart and a lot of class yesterday. That's for sure. The conditions were pretty tough out there and to shoot a 75 the way did she, she birdied the last hole, it speaks volumes. She obviously is a good player, but it takes a lot. I'm sure she was extremely nervous. I can only imagine. I was nervous out there a couple hundred, 300 people watching, the media attention that she has gotten, she should be proud of the way she played yesterday.

Q. How about being in the Buick here, would that be kind of ironic?

J.J. HENRY: I was part of the Buick and Buick Golf there my last two years. It's a great, great company. You know, again, I have been asked a lot about it in the last couple of months leading up to this, what's going on and about sponsorship and things. Being on the PAC, the Player Advisory Council, I've talked to Henry Hughes and Commissioner Finchem a little bit about it, strictly for the fact it means so much for this area and Southern New England and Connecticut, the amount of people and the fans we get out here, we all love golf in this area, it would be a shame. It would be horrible if we weren't able to do it. It's the 52nd and or 53rd year we played here, so to have a great company like Buick, I think the biggest TOUR sponsor, I think says volume about what the GHO has to offer for a company like that to come in and want to be the title sponsor. I think that can only help elevate, you know, years to come what maybe this tournament will bring.

Q. How about being the defending champion in the first Buick Classic or Buick Championship?

J.J. HENRY: That would be unbelievable. I can't think of a better -- I talked about this before. I really can't think of a better place to win my first event. I'm not trying to get ahead of myself. Again, whatever happens happens. But to be in this position and even to see my name -- I have been out here a couple of years. I have seen my name at the top of the leaderboard but to see it here and to see a lot of people out there rooting me on, it's pretty neat. It really is.

Q. Did you come here as a kid and watch them play much?

J.J. HENRY: Oh, yes. I used to come up here, I grew up again, I grew up about 45 minutes south from here. I used to come up with the head pro of my club. It's kind of ironic. He has since retired, his name is Paul Kelly. He was at the Patterson Club where I grew up playing for years. About my second or third hole, I looked over to the right and sure enough Paul was watching me. He was the guy I used to come in to watch all of the other TOUR pros play and to see him watching me in a tournament that we used to watch together is pretty neat, as well dad. My dad is an avid golfer and he got me involved in golf, but to see my dad out there and Paul Kelly watching me instead of somebody else is pretty neat.

Q. Did you come every year?

J.J. HENRY: Close to it. I played in a lot of things myself. I would come up once or twice during week. I used to come up in the practice rounds and watch the guys hit balls and work around and see how they do it. It used to get me fired up to play. I used to watch them hit balls or whatever, hit some balls to golf course. I used to go out playing that afternoon or the next morning simply for the fact of watching their tempo and rhythm got me fired up to play.

Q. Where did your passion for golf come from, your family is involved, your brother up there now?

J.J. HENRY: I have always been very competitive. Lucky for the fact I'm very athletic. I enjoy playing all sports growing up. I did it all. Golf, I don't know, for some reason seemed to a natural fit. I loved the individual part of it. It's me against the golf course. I think really that's why -- it's what got me here today, is the fact I'm so competitive. If I'm playing a card game or a board game I want to win. My wife gets on me sometimes because, you know, sometimes I get pretty competitive. But again, I just love to play golf. I love what I'm doing, that's the most important thing I think.

Q. Was it your dad that introduced it to you?

J.J. HENRY: Yes, I was exposed to golf at a high level. I use to caddy for my dad, state amateur stuff, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur. I was exposed to it at a high level. I used to watch -- I used to caddy for him in the U.S. Amateur back when I was still probably early in my middle school or high school. You would see all of these bags set up, college bags, and I thought how neat it was to be out there playing with these guys. It's funny how I work my way up. I was kind of a co-college player of the year my senior year after watching this and here I am playing against the best players of the world. It's pretty neat to see where you came from.

Q. J.J., you try to take every fourth, fifth, sixth week off. I know you didn't play last week, can that help you this week?

J.J. HENRY: Yes, I feel pretty fresh. I'm trying to figure out what works best for me as far as taking time off. I would probably like to take more time off than I do. But being my third year and trying to establish myself out here, I feel like I have to take advantage of every opportunity that I get. Surely you have to take time off. I'm probably going to play a pretty good stretch here. I like a lot of the golf courses that are coming up here on the schedule. I'm just going to try to relax maybe earlier in the week and then prepare for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I haven't pictured. Some guys do. I'm playing here, here and there and taking two weeks off, again, I have just tried to go with it and see what happens.

Q. Are you staying down with the folks?

J.J. HENRY: I stayed up here the last two days. But being the fact that, you know, I played early this morning and I probably won't tee off until some time in the afternoon tomorrow, I might ease down and relax, maybe hang out at the beach a little bit for tonight.

Q. You still got your place in Fairfield?

J.J. HENRY: I don't have a place here now. I stay with my folks when I am here. Again I love coming up. Unfortunately I don't get a chance to come up here as much as I like with our schedule especially this time of year when the weather is perfect. I come up for the holidays and I enjoy coming up and seeing all of my friends and family.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through your card.

J.J. HENRY: I hit a 3-wood perfect right in the middle of the fairway. I thought it was playing more downwind. It hit in the middle of the green it was soft and it spun all the way off the green to the front. I had a 60-foot putt up and around and unfortunately hit a bad first putt and 3-putted. I was technically off the green and putted from the fringe, I only putted to about 15 or 20 feet and missed it. The fifth hole I had a pretty good shot, I hit it a little bit fat. It's a long, long par-3. It was right at the hole, the pin was back left. It landed about four paces short of the green and stopped dead. It came backwards at me with a 4-iron, so soft this morning. I had a bad chip tried to run a 9-iron up there and I missed it eight feet short and missed for it par.

I stayed aggressive, had a good opportunity on 6, unfortunately missed a short one there. Was able to get one back on 7 to get me back in the right direction.

Q. What did you hit on 7?

J.J. HENRY: A 9-iron about ten feet.

Q. 11, par-3? How far was the shot on 10?

J.J. HENRY: 10 was about, I want to say 180 yards, something like that.

11, I hit a wedge, the pin was front left, hit a wedge about pin-high just actually to right fringe, made a long putt maybe probably about a 30-footer there.

12, I hit a great drive. I was kind of fired up after making a 2 and then another 2 on 10 and 11. I ripped a driver right over the corner had nothing left, had about 90 yards. It was right in the middle of a sand divot. I caught a bad break, tried to get something running back on the middle of the green to the back pin there and was able to just hit a pretty good shot again about 30 feet and knock that in.

And then on 13, par-5, I hit a great drive I had a 5-wood in there. It was actually a little too much club. It came off a touch to the right. I left myself with a really difficult chip and chipped it to about 20 feet, which is almost about as good as I could do and made that.

Q. 17?

J.J. HENRY: 17, I hit a 5-wood off the tee that came off it just a little bit and unfortunately it kept cutting and cutting and caught the water down the right. I was able to drop it out and hit a shot in the middle of the green and 2-putt for par.

Q. Did you use a 5-wood there you said?

J.J. HENRY: I did, yes.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you very much.

J.J. HENRY: Thank you. I appreciate it.

End of FastScripts....

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