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February 19, 2007

J.J. Henry


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, J.J., for joining us for a few minutes. I know you were out there playing a couple holes on the front side. Congratulations for getting into the event. Why don't you just make a couple comments about a little bit about what went on yesterday, how it all came down, how excited you were.
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, well, it's funny. Unfortunately starting out yesterday, I was Mr. 65 unfortunately. It's funny, I was walking up the 17th hole at Riviera on Sunday, talked to Mark Russell, happened to be to the right of the fairway there. I was going up to Mark. "I think I'm first alternate. Just wanted to kind of touch base, make sure you had my cell phone," blah blah blah. Sure enough, I think he was talking to somebody here at the tournament. He said, Oh", no, he's in, somebody withdrew."
Kind of made my day. I went up and hit a 3-wood on 17, made birdie. Kind of made my day. Of course, obviously slipping in at 64, it's a great opportunity to play on the big stage, get a chance to play against Tiger. Obviously with the success he's had, anybody in my position, anybody in the field really would relish the opportunity to get a chance to play. I'm extremely excited about it. It's going to be a lot of fun.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Questions, please.

Q. Did you learn anything being a teammate in the Ryder Cup that you can use against him?
J.J. HENRY: Again, like I mentioned even back then, to spend a week with somebody like Tiger, who I've always respected both on and off the golf course, I think only helps my game going forward. I think Wednesday will be a great opportunity to go out.
I feel like I'm playing pretty well. My scores haven't been great this year. I've kind of been hit or miss. But I'm making a lot of birdies. Of course, in match play, that's what you have to do. I just played the Front 9. You are going to have to make birdies. There is not much rough. The greens are fairly soft. Huge, huge greens with some slope and some undulation.
You're going to have to make birdies this week, and I'm excited about the chance for sure.

Q. Spending a week with him, does it take the sense of not awe off, but...
J.J. HENRY: You get a chance to play in the Ryder Cup, I don't know if there's any bigger stage than that. Of course, you're anxious. Sure, you'll be excited. Yeah, you'll be nervous. I feel like if I can handle the situation I did at the K Club, for the most part played pretty good golf when I got a chance to play, this is I don't want to say a walk in the park, but this is just another day of golf.
For me personally, I think it's a win-win. I got a chance to play against the best player in the world. Of course, we all know he's headed for eight in a row here, or trying to. You know, heck, he's got to go through six matches, and I happen to be one of them. I'm going to go out and enjoy myself and hopefully play good golf and see what happens.
But there's no question I think if I play the way I'm capable of playing, I think there's no reason why I can't go out and have a great match or even win. It's just a question of hitting the shots. We all know match play, you got to make the putts.

Q. You saw him, got to know him, so...
J.J. HENRY: Tiger and I are the same age. I'm not here to tell you we spent a ton of time together. We played through college a lot. We played some in college. Haven't played a whole lot, to be honest with you, really since I've been out here much.
Again, I played with him a couple times in practice at the Ryder Cup. We all know how good he is, but at the same time I don't feel -- I don't really feel like there's a huge intimidation factor, if that's what you're saying.

Q. Last week Brett said he went out in preparation to play Tiger, he bought the video game, trying to find weaknesses. Are you going to hit up Brett for advice?
J.J. HENRY: It's funny, I actually happened to fly over here last night with about 10 players from the Nissan Open. Shaun Micheel happened to be one of them. I said, Maybe we'll have a couple beers on the plane and see what I can pry out of him. Of course, he was the last one I think to beat him in match play at the World Match Play at Wentworth last year. I always give him a hard time.
Golf is golf. Let's be honest. It's 18 holes. Anything can happen. I get hot, make a bunch of birdies, you know, I'm just as capable of beating anybody. Like you said, I mean, with Tiger really obviously trying to go for eight in a row here, I think personally it's going to be tough, whether it's me, whether it's somebody else. It's a golf course that you're going to have to make a lot of birdies to win matches, I think. He's got to go through six of them.
I think going forward, if there's an event that might be one of the hardest, if not the hardest to win, this is probably it.

Q. Did Shaun give you anything?
J.J. HENRY: No. We were more just kind of a joking around thing. It's kind of ironic. 45 minutes earlier I find out I'm that in and I'm getting a chance to play him. It happened to be just he was one of the guys on the plane. It was kind of funny.

Q. Did you learn anything about the art of playing match play during the Ryder Cup? Do you look at it as playing the course or the man?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I personally love match play. Of course, being a professional, we don't get a chance. Personally I'd love to see us play at least an event or two on our TOUR. I think it's great. I think it's pure golf. It's great for the players; it's great for the fans. I played a lot of junior and amateur golf in match play. I was fairly successful in doing it.
But I love it. Again, I feel like my game is suited to playing match play. I'm excited to be playing this week. I've always enjoyed watching, whether it's the U.S. Amateur, whether it's this event and I'm not playing. To see 32 matches and a bunch of them come down to the last hole or extra holes, I mean, it's a lot of fun for everybody - for the players and the fans included.
To be honest with you, I wish we played more, actually played a match play event on TOUR.

Q. Did you play in the Ping tournament here in college?
J.J. HENRY: I did not. I played pretty well over in Phoenix -- excuse me, Scottsdale, at ASU's event. I'm not sure. I think we played here once back in the day. I know for a fact we used to always play up the road in Scottsdale at ASU's event when I went to TCU.
I love playing out here. The weather was a little shaky out there today. But the weather's great. It's a new venue, which I think is a huge bonus for myself. They played La Costa forever. Guys, Tiger included, probably knows that golf course better than anybody in the field. We're all kind of on an equal slate this week in the fact that I don't think anybody's really played it before this week. I think that's a huge advantage for somebody like myself who is, you know, new to it here.

Q. (Question regarding the advertisement.)
J.J. HENRY: You know, it's so funny, I've gotten a couple calls on that. I still haven't seen the video, like the Shakespearean theater. I was getting some funny comments from some friends and stuff.
You know, again, it's great. With all the FedExCup, it's neat to kind of see some of the players, whether they're trying to act or just doing what they're told, it's kind of fun to be in the mix and do stuff like that, for sure.

Q. Did you volunteer for that?
J.J. HENRY: I was asked and I was happy to do it. Again, it was just kind of "Read this line," and put it all together. Like I said, I haven't seen the video yet. I think they just started it last week or something. It was kind of funny.

Q. Did you see Tiger's first round match last year with Ames at all?
J.J. HENRY: Of course, I'm not going to add any fuel to the fire, if that's what you're saying. Of course, Stephen went out three weeks later and won THE PLAYERS Championship. You know, heck, I'm not saying I want to get beat nine and eight. If I can win THE PLAYERS Championship, I'd for sure take that.
Again, you know, it's match play. You can shoot 65 and lose; you can shoot 73 and win. You just never know what you're going to get. Of course, I know if I play Tiger and shoot 73, I might as well pack my bags.
Again, there will be great matches where two guys play great, and there will be matches where both guys are playing like dogs and one's got to win and one's got to lose. That's the nature, that's the reason why I think, again, you need a little bit of luck. Obviously you have to be playing well. You have to go through six matches. It's a long week. But at the same time you need a little bit of luck.

Q. Do you generally like desert golf as a whole?
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, it's a little different probably than what I'm used to, or what I grew up playing. It's a little harder to pick targets off tees. For the most part, I think this golf course is pretty generous. There's a lot of room off the tees. It is pure desert golf, but at the same time there's a bit of room to drive the ball.
I just played the front, but even driving in, seeing some of the holes on the back. There's some great holes. I think there's two drivable par 4s out there - 7 and 12 maybe. There's a lot of drama out there. I think it's set up neat to see a lot of fun shots for a match-play-type atmosphere, for sure.
It's funny, seemed like the first eight holes went basically in a straight line right out away from the golf course. The wind was into us pretty good, blowing from the left. I think looking at the weather, I think it's supposed to improve. I don't think the wind is supposed to blow quite as much. I think it will play a little different.
I think 7, kind of a funneled green, real tight and narrow. If you get it kind of on the wrong side, depending where the pin is, you could leave yourself a little delicate second shot. You'll probably see 90% of the guys I would say probably trying to hit driver or 3-wood, to drive it up that front right side again.
There were two tees as well, I would think from a setup standpoint, depending on the conditions or the wind, I would think they would probably move the tee up to that front tee where it would still be drivable. You'll see a lot of interesting -- you can leave there with a two or three, you can probably make five pretty easily if you hit kind of a squirrelly drive. Very similar, not quite as treacherous, but to 10 at Riviera. Not quite, but very narrow greens and kind of undulating. It will be kind of neat. It will be a fun hole for match play.

Q. Before the Ryder Cup, what was your most memorable match play moment?
J.J. HENRY: Well, you know, again, I've won a bunch of tournaments in match play. I won three State Amateurs back in Connecticut. You know, I played three or four U.S. Amateurs match play. I don't really know if anything really sticks out. But at the same time I think I've had a lot of success playing it. I enjoy playing it.

Q. Ever had a match being five down with six to go?
J.J. HENRY: I went 10 extra holes one time, which made for a long day, or nine extra holes. Actually got beat on my ninth extra hole. Second match of a 36-hole day. I went 45 holes to lose on the ninth extra playoff hole. It was a long deal. That actually was back in my State Am in Connecticut.
I'm trying to think. You know, actually kind of ironic, one match that -- actually, it's funny, my last year as an amateur back in '98, I didn't play real well the two rounds of qualifying. Joel Kriebel was medalist. I slipped in. I actually had to go to a playoff to get into match play with the 64th seed, knocked off the No. 1 seed. That was kind of my 1 versus 64. Funny, Joel and Tiger actually were probably teammates, too, at Stanford.
Just to try to go back on memorable matches, here I am not playing well, and in qualifying slipping in at 64. I can remember even Johnny Miller saying, This is Joel Kriebel's worst nightmare. I was College Player of the Year, First Team All-American. Like anything else, I mean, it's kind of a 64th seed, here I was with success in college golf. Obviously, this is a little bit different, let's be honest. At the time it was kind of a neat deal for me, for sure.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, J.J.

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