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October 18, 2006

J.J. Henry


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: J.J. Henry, thanks for joining us here. You got your first PGA Tour win in your home state earlier this year. You played in the Ryder Cup. And if things go well down the stretch, you'll be in The TOUR Championship for the first time. Make some comments about a pretty darned good season.

J.J. HENRY: As you mentioned, that's the plan here. I'm excited to play here the next couple of weeks, this week and next and to hopefully solidify my spot. Being out here now six years, it seems there's always some number you're shooting for or working towards. Obviously this is the best of what could be, whether it be top 70, top 125, whatever it may be.

But being out here six years on Tour, I really felt like it was breakout year, so to speak, for me so far, and getting a chance to play in the Ryder Cup was an experience I'll never forget. We had one goal, and that was to go over there as a team and bring it home, but, unfortunately, as you know, it didn't work out.

But personally, I take all positives from the whole week. For the most part, I thought I played pretty good golf. And when I get myself in position, whether it be this week or down the line, I think I can feed off the atmosphere and the adrenaline I felt and a lot of the good quality shots I hit down the stretch in a lot of the matches I played. I'm looking forward this is my first event back in the States since the Cup.

I played the AmEx the week after then I've taken the last two weeks off. I'm excited to be back here again on Tour and looking forward to hopefully another good question.

Q. You said it was a breakthrough year. Was there anything specifically coming into this year that was different, swing, body?

J.J. HENRY: Not really. I feel like, as I said before, I think there is a learning curve when you get out here. I had a lot of the accolades, so to speak, from college and amateur golf. I played two years on Nationwide Tour, which for me was a great learning spot. I knew it would take time.

Did I think I would win earlier, I would have hoped so or I thought I would. But at the same time, I try to be positive and take things each week and each year. And I feel like now being 31, hopefully my best golf is still ahead of me. As time and history has shown, most guys seem to play their best in that 30 to 40 range. So to be 31 and to have six years under my belt, to have a win, to have a Ryder Cup team, it's something I can build upon and look forward to a lot of good things, absolutely.

Q. Do you have kids?

J.J. HENRY: I have a little boy. He just turned two in July.

Q. Is he across the street?

J.J. HENRY: He and mom are running around somewhere. I'm hoping to join them here later this afternoon. It's a fun week. I've got a good friend of mine from home who always caddies for me this week, and he has got three little girls. It's a very laid back week in a lot of ways. As stressful as it can be for a lot of guys

Q. No for everybody.

J.J. HENRY: But I've been fortunate enough to come in each week, each year, and enjoy the week. It's always fun to come here, whether you're two, like my son, or 58, like my dad, from a young kid to a grandparent, it seems like there's always neat things to do here. They put on a great event. As much as you want to play good golf, you want to have fun too. And I think that's important this week.

Q. Of the 55 Tour courses, the Palm Course had the lowest scoring average by like eight tenths of a shot, which is a massive difference. When you're playing over there and you're standing there on the first tee, what's kind of running through your mind knowing that you sort of have to hit the ground running? Does that present a different set of challenges?

J.J. HENRY: I think so. The big thing there is, the par 5s, for the most part, are all reachable. So if you hit a good drive, you're turning four holes into basically, I don't want to say gimme birdies, but you're hitting a long iron to mid iron into a lot of those Par 5s.

You do sometimes almost press the issue or try too hard, I think, knowing that whether you make a bogey or couple bogeys early and now all of sudden, per se, you're over par and now you're really pressing to you know if you don't shoot 4, 5 or 6 under par you're losing ground on that course.

Even more so, I just whipped around and played nine or ten holes on the Magnolia course, and I thought it was playing pretty long. They've made drastic differences the last couple of years and they've added a lot of length.

For some reason, I've never played in relation to how everybody I've never played that Magnolia course real well. I've never shot a 63, 64, 65, that round you need to do over there to put yourself in the hunt. Last year I shot 63 or 64 on the Palm Course, but when Sunday comes around I'm middle of the pack, 25th or 30th place or something like that.

It's important, there's no question, to go out and try to get it on the Palm Course, especially for me, because I think the Magnolia course this year, the rough might not be up, but the greens are real fast. The greens are perfect on both courses and they've added a lot of length. It's not the pitch and putt it used to be. There's some good holes, especially coming in, 15, 16, 17.

17, heck, I can remember hitting a little 3 wood or 2 iron around the corner and throwing a wedge in there. And today it was driver and 4 iron or something. The golf course is definitely playing different than it was a couple of years ago, for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)

J.J. HENRY: Again, it's not a U.S. Open setup. I'm not here to say it's a drastic, you know, but I think there is definitely a difference between the two courses, absolutely.

Q. We're talking about need to go low here this week and then next week at Innisbrook it changes drastically. Is that a factor to you guys? Is that a big shift in gears? And do you even think about it until you get there?

J.J. HENRY: I think it's more of, you have to take each week. You know this week that you have to go out and make birdies. And you know next week if you shoot 10 under par you have a good chance to win the tournament. Normally, I remember, if you shoot 10 under you're looking pretty good.

The big difference I think, if I remember, the rough next week is usually pretty steep, pretty thick. And this week, again, it's more of it's a great tournament. I think a lot of guys love coming here and playing this week. It's fun for everyone. It's a great family experience, obviously, as we know Disney is. And to come and play golf and take everything in, you're not having to slap it around and fight with it. It's nice to have a week where if you play well you're rewarded and you can make a lot of birdies and at the same time you can have fun with everything else going around.

The way this course is set up, I think it's great for this tournament, especially, and for everything else that happens this week. It's a great setup. As you mentioned, it's a great point between this week and next week, being two different sides of the ladder.

Q. I wonder if that makes next week, the level of difficulty even more, if it becomes a mental thing.

J.J. HENRY: I don't think so. If you're playing well. This week still, you still have to hit good shots, you have to hit in the fairway and make putts. I think next week, too, whether you shoot 10 under to win or 20 under, both guys or whoever is doing that is still keeping the ball in play and hitting a lot of good shots and making some good putts.

Par is kind of irrelevant if you're playing well. At times, this tournament can become more of a putting contest, strictly because you have to make a lot of birdies. Where next week maybe could be more of a ball striker's course where par is a good score. I think that's the only difference.

Q. One of your fellow TCU alums made a prediction at the Masters, Dan Jenkins, "Look out for J.J."

J.J. HENRY: He's a great guy.

Q. Was there some kind of an epiphany late last year, early this year? Did something happen at a tournament or work in your off season on your swing that made you realize this was going to be the year things were going to start happening?

J.J. HENRY: It's a great question, and I wish I had a better answer. I just feel I've come into my own a little bit, so to speak. It's not like I haven't had chances to win. I think a lot of it, as you know, is just believing in yourself and believing in what you're doing. I've always felt like as long as I feel like I'm improving or I'm doing the little things to get to that next level you know, you can be very impatient out here as a young player, especially with not seeing a lot of success, so to speak.

I knew I was good enough and I believed in a way internally where I was good enough to keep my card for six straight years. I've finished second, I don't know, three, four, five times, whatever it was, so I felt just keep knocking on the door and sooner or later I would break through. I have become more of a well rounded, all around player. No question. I've always felt like I've been a pretty good ball striker and when I putt well like anything else, when anybody putts well they seem to climb the leaderboard. Me, especially, I've been more of a streaky putter. I think this year I've stuck to a system and stuck to a routine, and I've become more consistent. I think that's really helped me out a lot.

Q. Every sport talks about confidence, and you just said you thought you could be one of the top players. But when you do it, is there any way to put in words the difference that you are now when you step to the first tee or start a tournament?

J.J. HENRY: Well, it's just I mean, as you just said, this game is all about confidence and believing in yourself. There is no question, especially going over and playing in the Ryder Cup and feeling that. I mean, just the electricity in the air and walking to the first tee. It was like walking into the Colosseum or something. It was like you're going in for a title fight. People are stomping their feet and cheering.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm not saying I was unbelievable. I felt for the most part I was playing pretty well, and playing pretty well going in, I handled the situation pretty well. So when I come back and play in normal events, I think there is a new found belief or confidence where, hey, if you can do that, you can go out and do this. That's the attitude.

In the long run, I'm not saying it's going to be this week or next week, but for my career personally, I think to go over there, and as one of those rookies, there was a lot of talk about the point system and who are these four guys, I think it was important for me to go over and really prove to myself that I belonged. And I think for the most part I did that and I'm proud of that. I can take a lot of that. I guess what I'm saying is, I can build off that confidence and propel me to the next level of my career.

Q. I'm wondering what kind of plum it would be to finish in the Top 30 and get to go to Atlanta and get some of that free money?

J.J. HENRY: That would be nice, no doubt. It's always some number. I'm excited about it, being late in the year. Obviously kind of the pinnacle being the Ryder Cup, after the majors, after everything, and now I feel I have something to play for the last couple of weeks. So it's important to me, there's no question, it's a big goal of mine to go out and play well the next couple of weeks.

I've done a little money list watching, there's no doubt, the last month or so. But at the same time I can't worry about that. I can only control what I can do, go out and play well these next two weeks and hopefully lock up that spot.

Q. What are your thoughts on the FedEx Cup going forward? Is next year the most important year in the PGA Tour since when?

J.J. HENRY: I don't think so. I think really the PGA Tour itself is as healthy as it's ever been. We have, arguably, the greatest athlete of any sport, possibly of all time. Here I am virtually playing week in and week out, with arguably the most recognized person in the world who has done tremendous things for our sport. And we've got a lot of great players, both here and internationally. I think we have more players than ever.

I think golf is as healthy as it's ever been. We'll just have to wait and see how things play out, as far as the FedEx. I think it's an exciting thing. It's new. It's a change. But at the same time, it's still golf. We're going out and playing golf.

It's kind of a two part thing. Golf, we're in a great spot here as far as golf and the future, and I think the TOUR has made a decision. And I think we're all behind it, as far as trying to make things or mix things up to make it more exciting. It's a hard question to answer because it is kind of new, but I think at the same time I think we're all excited about putting a spin on things for sure.

Q. A similar question. You're a Top 30 player going into next year. You talked earlier about how much you enjoy coming to this event. As a Top 30 players, do you have any intention of coming here next year?

J.J. HENRY: Absolutely. This week is not only obviously golf is golf, and when I come here in the morning there's one thing, but at the same time this is a week that my family and some of my great friends who bring their kids. It's almost a mini it is a vacation. For as much as we travel, and as much as we play golf week in and week out everybody asks, "What do you do when you go on vacation?" Well, most of the time I go home. That's just the way it is. You travel 30 weeks a year and you just want to go home.

This week is different. We stay on site with all the parks and different things, with having young children or having friends or relatives or family members that do, it's always nice to get everybody together this week and really enjoy it. I think for years to come, I think this is always something where you can still go out and play golf and then obviously hopefully win a tournament, but at the same time it's a nice little break from getting away and enjoying things here.

Q. (No microphone.)

J.J. HENRY: He was pretty excited last night. Old mom and him are running around somewhere. We'll have a good time. We have one of my good friends and his kids coming tomorrow, so we're looking forward to the week.

Q. As a top 30 player, what about the rest of the lineup after The TOUR Championship? You've thought about this as a PAC member. Would you play in any of the other seven?

J.J. HENRY: I think so. Personally I'm one that loves to play golf. I can't speak for everybody, but in years past I've always played 30, 32 events, and it seems to be I've always played well late in the year. So personally, I think I'll play a lot. Now whether I'll play every tournament, I don't think I'll play every one. But looking at the schedule and seeing some of those events, there's some new places which I've never seen, I've heard about, which obviously might be exciting to see and check out. And you have the adult playground in Vegas and you come to the kids' playground here at Disney.

Again, I haven't really looked much at where I'm going to play next year, but I plan on playing a handful of events for sure after the Cup ends next year.

End of FastScripts.

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