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July 1, 2006

J.J. Henry


TODD BUDNICK: We congratulate our 54 hole leader, J.J. Henry for being this week's AstraZeneca Charity Challenge winner. $100,000 on behalf of AstraZeneca, the Buick Championship and you will be donated to the American College of Gastroenterology. So congratulations on that.

Earlier in the week, you said to us that this is a tournament you'd like to have a chance to win, you feel like you could win this tournament, and you put yourself in that position heading into the final round. You have to feel pleased with your play so far.

J.J. HENRY: Absolutely. I felt great this morning hitting balls on the range, and again I was in a pretty good spot after two days. I think today was really an opportunity with nobody really running away with it after two rounds, I knew I was in striking distance if I could get off to a good start and give myself a chance, and obviously I did. I was 4 under at the turn and made a lot of great putts. I hit a lot of good shots but the putter was really hot today, made a lot mainly for birdie, but a couple good par saves to really keep the moment going.

Again, a tournament that probably since I could really just walk, to be out here watching the guys growing up and to grow up in the State of Connecticut and have a chance, I really can't think of another event I would rather win to get my first tour victory than right here at Cromwell.

TODD BUDNICK: Did you have something against the even holes today?

J.J. HENRY: Funny, I interviewed outside, somebody called me "Mr. Odd" today. I guess every hole after the first hole that's pretty unbelievable. Maybe even is my number tomorrow.

But again, I'm in a great spot. I know I obviously have a lot of work ahead of me tomorrow and I know it will be kind of difficult to keep my emotions in check a little bit. But being six years out here on Tour, I would not say I'm a wily vet in this position, but I have been here a couple times. Just go out tomorrow and enjoy what happens and enjoy the crowd and the support out here. It will be a lot of fun.

TODD BUDNICK: Looks like you'll have a chance to play with a good friend, Harrison Frazar.

J.J. HENRY: Yeah, absolutely. Harrison and I are really, really good friends. It will be a real comfortable pairing, so to speak, I guess if it holds up the way it does.

You know, again, Harrison has battled the same thing I am. He's been here a couple years longer than I have even and he's looking for his first Tour victory as well. It will be a lot of fun. I hope we both play good tomorrow and make for a good finish, absolutely.

Q. You've been in this position before, Saturday always used to be, you would basically stay in place and other guys would pass you. How does it feel that you're doing the passing for a change?

J.J. HENRY: Not today, that's for sure. It feels great. Again, I felt good starting this week, I really did. I tried to take a little bit different attitude and approach this week and tried to enjoy what goes on.

Again I've talked about it before, but when you play close to home and you want to do so well, sometimes you're your own worst enemy. This week I really kind of embraced everything that's gone on out here and enjoyed what's happened. Obviously pretty competitive and pretty kind of taking care of business. But at the same time, I've enjoyed this week and I felt very relaxed today. Hopefully I'll feel the same way tomorrow.

Q. Did you get the support of the crowd, especially the hometown fans, did that spur you on a little bit today?

J.J. HENRY: I think so. Especially when you're playing well. When you're not playing real good, it can kind of sometimes you know, because you want to play well. But when you're doing well and making a lot of putts, there's nothing better. It's funny, standing over that putt on 17, I just knew I was going to make it today, I really did. It was one of those feels; it was a tough putt, broke four or five feet downhill left to right. With all of the crowd out there, I just felt so good. I said, man, I want to make the crowd roar and sure enough I hit it in the middle of the hole.

Q. Did you see the crowds inaudible?

J.J. HENRY: Absolutely. This tournament is renowned for big crowds, maybe they are not quite as big as maybe some years past, but again, it's a beautiful day out there today. There are a lot of people out there, and you know, I just enjoy the process. It was fun.

Q. After the birdie on 17, you were 8 under for the day going to the 18th tee, a birdie would tie the course record; were you aware of that fact and will you take us through the 18th hole?

J.J. HENRY: I wasn't aware of it. I knew I'm sure it was probably somewhere in that area. Again, I was just I felt great, especially after making that putt on 17. I knew it was a little bit downwind off the left and I just tried to start it. I actually tried to hit kind of a hard hook and kind of fight the win, and unfortunately I just blocked it a little bit to the right. I hit it up there in the right rough and kind of had a difficult stance and thought I hit a pretty good shot and it landed just in kind of the lip of the bunker and came back and had a pretty difficult bunker shot, not much sand in that front bunker and missed about, I don't know, a 10 , 12 footer for par.

You know, obviously it's not quite the way I would have liked to have finished the round, but heck, I can't be too upset with a 63.

Q. Have you been in the final group on Sunday before and how do you handle the emotions?

J.J. HENRY: I don't actually think I have yes, I was, I take that back. I was in the final group in Phoenix this year. It was a threesome in Phoenix this year.

I can't remember, obviously I've been close, I've had chances to win, within a couple shots out of the lead with 18 to play. I think Phoenix was the first time I was actually in the final group on Sunday. The year at Kemper I would have been but we had difficult weather delays and everything and it was a 36 hole final day and so I just kept playing and stayed back where I was.

Q. What's your approach tomorrow?

J.J. HENRY: You know, I'm just going to try to just feel as relaxed as I was today. I felt very comfortable out there and again, I've talked about it before, but if I can just kind of enjoy what's going on and just have fun doing it, I seem to play well, and I feel that's the approach I've taken this week and so far, it's worked pretty well.

Q. Just to qualify that, you've never led going into the final round?

J.J. HENRY: What was I, tied for the lead? I might have been one back. So I have never actually led going into the final round. Not here on the PGA TOUR.

Q. Do you feel like you were blowing by everybody so to speak and did it change at all?

J.J. HENRY: You know, the first time I really looked on the board was about the ninth green and I saw somebody, I want to say like Stewart Cink or somebody had a 9 under, he got off to a good start.

And then I really didn't look. We were into you're playing twosomes and if the 5th hole to the 13th hole, the pace was great, I was playing well, I was picking a club, hitting the shot and rolling a putt in and it was one after another. I didn't really look up at a leaderboard again until I want to say maybe 14 or something. You know, I saw I was kind of separating from the field a little bit there and I guess the leaders really weren't making any big moves.

It was a very difficult day to play. The wind was blowing pretty good out there. The greens started firming up a little bit. I played a great round and on a day where maybe the scores weren't as low as they have been in previous days or previous years.

Q. How tough is it to learn to trust your game at this level?

J.J. HENRY: Well, it's hard. I'm still trying to do it. I was in here I think on Wednesday talking and you know, I'm 31 now, not to reiterate, but this is my sixth year out here, and I feel like my best golf years are still ahead of me. History says, you know, that for the most part, the 30s are kind of your prime years. So I feel like hopefully my best golf is still ahead of me and tomorrow is just another step hopefully in the right direction or in the learning process.

To me, that's the most important thing. Obviously, yeah, I'm going to try my best and I want to win tomorrow more than anything. But if nothing else, it's going to be a learning experience and I'm looking forward to the challenge regardless of what happens. I'll take a lot away from tomorrow and obviously hope it's good enough. But if it's not, it will make me that much more hungry the next time I get an opportunity to win.

TODD BUDNICK: How about your birdies?

J.J. HENRY: I guess odd holes. 3, hit a great drive and 9 iron to about 15 feet left of the hole and rolled it in.

5, long, long par 3, playing a little downwind off the left and hit a 5 iron about 15 feet behind the hole and made that.

7, hit a great driveway down the left side, a little downwind and had a sand wedge to that back left pin. I hit it again, made a good putt there, probably 20 feet, 25 feet.

9 was downwind. I hit a hybrid club, like a 2 iron type club middle of the fairway and hit a wedge or sand wedge in there. Pin was front left and hit it pin high about another 20 feet and rolled that in.

11, I hit a wedge, it was downwind. Again I'm just hitting the right spots. I'm not hitting it real close, but I'm playing knowing where I need to miss it or where I need for the best opportunity. Again pin was back right, I hit it just left of the hole about 20 feet and hit it right in the middle of the hole.

15 was dead into the wind, so I could not reach it in two, the par 5. I hit driver and 7 iron, lay up, sand wedge, tough pin in the corner, hit a great shot to about two feet.

15, everybody knows 15, short little hole the actually hit a 3 wood off the tee. The wind was coming from left and I blocked it a little bit right. Actually had a real difficult shot, it was in the rough over the bunker. I talked to my caddie, I said I don't think I can keep this ball on the green. I hit a great shot that rolled in.

17, hit a good drive with that hybrid club again. It was downwind, second shot was downwind. I hit a wedge probably about that was probably 30 feet. Again, walking up to the ball I thought it was in a great spot, but it was in a real difficult, sloping right to left putt and I knocked it in the middle of the hole. That was probably the best putt I made all day.

Q. Inaudible?

J.J. HENRY: I guess I did. I was right in between clubs, I was right in between a 6 and a 7 iron. I was teetering back and forth and said to myself, well, I knew 7 iron would get maybe at least to the front, or worst I would get an uphill pitch. Last thing I wanted to do was blow it over the green and have a difficult pitch. I was right in between club there and unfortunately didn't hit the right one. Made a great save, had a tough little chip and made a 10 footer for par there. It was a great save.

Q. How do you try to relax or will you be nervous tomorrow?

J.J. HENRY: Well, it's a little bit of both, obviously you're playing with lot of confidence, especially after what I did today. So I feel like I'm playing well. I'll feed off that. But hopefully I feel the same way tomorrow as I did today, because I felt real relaxed out there. I got off to a good start obviously to kind of get myself in the hunt again. You know, I'm sure it will be tough, but again, that's why we play, that's why we practice is to putt ourselves in these positions. Looking forward to the challenge, absolutely.

Q. Twenty years ago inaudible anything you can draw from that experience to help you tomorrow or is that way too distant

J.J. HENRY: I don't know how to put this. I don't really I'm not trying to go out it tomorrow yeah, I want to win, but I want to just take it as it comes. Again, it's not like, you know, I mean, if I go out tomorrow and just play the way I'm capable of playing, I think, you know, odds are that it's probably going to be good enough. That's not to say somebody can't go out tomorrow and shoot what I did today; obviously what I did today, somebody is capable of shooting a 62 or a 63. You're playing against the best players in the world, but you know, I can't really think about or look at what other guys are doing.

Again, as Todd said, I'm playing with probably a good friend tomorrow. I'm just going to go out and try to enjoy what happened. I talk about if I do that, I think it will be good enough. I can't just sit here and tell you, well, what works and what doesn't work because I've never won, but at the same time, I've been out here long enough and talked to a lot of friends and a lot of players that have won numerous times out here. You don't really have to do anything crazy. You just have to go out and play your game and add it up at the end to give yourself a chance with three, four, five, nine holes to play. And hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to do that and I'll add it up at the end and enjoy what happens. If it's good enough, it's good enough.

I'm not going to go out and try to I'm not going to run four miles tonight, do crazy stuff to cry to get myself psyched up. I'm as competitive as anybody out here and I've played golf a long time. I've put in my time and I've paid my dues so, to speak. Whether it's this week or another week this year, hopefully sooner or later it will be good enough.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, J.J. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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