home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


June 20, 2007

J.J. Henry


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, J.J., for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Travelers Championship. You had a good week at the beginning of the week on Monday and Tuesday with that win with Stewart Cink and you're coming home to a place you've won. Everything is going your way.
J.J. HENRY: We're off to a good start, there's no doubt. In all honesty, it's good to be home. Last year, being my breakthrough event, I talked a lot about it, how this was a tournament when I was a youngster I would come and watch the pros hit. And here I come back as defending champion, it's pretty special.
As Joan mentioned, I got off to a great start Monday and Tuesday. I played in Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade's event in Rhode Island with Stewart Cink, who is a good friend of mine. We got a chance to play together in the Ryder Cup and the World Cup. A lot of that is set up for the fact that I did win my first event here last year.
Again, I feel like I'm playing well coming in, I really do. I finished tied for 26 at the Open last week, with the difficult conditions as they were, I felt I played pretty well. That being said, I kind of carried it over to Monday and Tuesday and I feel refreshed and looking forward to hopefully a good showing this week.

Q. Has your game improved this year compared to coming in last year?
J.J. HENRY: Quite a bit, to be honest with you. Last year I came in missing the cut at the U.S. Open, but felt I played pretty well. I played in the Open and then took a week off and came and played, and obviously played great.
I don't know how my clock ticks, but for some reason I start playing well this time of year. If you look over my career, this is my 7th year on Tour, and it seems to be almost like, hey, it's time to wake up and start playing golf, and that's what I've done.
Again, I've worked hard. I feel like I'm a lot better player even this year than last year. I have more experience under my belt playing some of those big events. And that being said, I feel very comfortable.
When I first turned pro, this was a tough tournament for me to play because I tried too hard and put too much pressure on myself trying to play well, and you know, almost carry the Connecticut flag, so to speak, with golf. And now I feel like I ought to play well, and I relish that opportunity.

Q. Do you feel as though part of your life has changed like when you go to events now and feel you have a win under your belt?
J.J. HENRY: That's something we relish. That's why we work hard. We're all competitors. That being said, I think I'm no different than anybody else. I love the drive and the motivation and thrill to win. And to get a taste of that, in all places, here at the Travelers Championship last year. You know, I'm looking forward to it, especially coming in with a lot of confidence. I probably made 16 birdies the last two days. I made 10 birdies with my own ball on Monday at Rhode Island Country Club, which by no means a push over golf course. But coming from the U.S. Open at Oakmont on Sunday where you were just in survival mode, and then Stewart and I played great yesterday, probably made another five birdies yesterday.
That being said, I'm back into birdie mode, back to hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. Of course it was difficult to do the week before. My no means is this a pushover golf course, but at the same time after as difficult as it was last week, it feels like you can relax and enjoy and go play golf again.

Q. Does the Open, not necessarily Oakmont, does it throw you guys out of whack, do you think?
J.J. HENRY: It could. If you look back, I always play well after a major, whether it's because the conditions are so hard and you feel like now you can relax and free it up and enjoy yourself again.
I can remember back, just off the top of my head, I remember playing a PGA or something and the following week finishing like tied for second somewhere. I've always seemed to play very well after a hard major where I played halfway decent and played four rounds. It can beat you up, definitely, but you know it's kind of -- I mean last week especially, it was off the charts how hard it was. It was the only golf course I've ever played where literally I would stand on the first tee and think, gosh, you can double bogey every single hole out here. It's one thing to hit it in the fairway, a lot of blind tee shots and such, it's another thing to try to keep it on those undulating greens and try to hit it in the right spots.
I played really well on Sunday, shot 2 over 72, and carried that over to the last two days. And here I am, looking being forward to playing this week.

Q. Tough physical or mental?
J.J. HENRY: Probably mental, no question. Because there's really no escape. In some ways, it can kind of embarrass you, really. You see the scores and arguably it's the best players in the world and a lot of them are having a hard time breaking 80.
Whether you agree or disagree with the setup and how the USGA handles it, it is what it is and you have to accept the fact that it's the same for everybody, but at the same time it can definitely beat you up.
I took the approach where -- par was irrelevant. We talked about that last week. We all knew over par was going to win the tournament. And now you're back in the mindset of, in my opinion -- this, in my opinion, is one of the best, if not the best TPC courses that we play. I believe that. A lot of people talk about Sawgrass. But for some reason, the drama on the last four holes here, 15, 16, 17, 18, really 15, 16 and 17, it's a great TPC course, it really is. You have to hit shots through the trees, a lot of different holes. In my opinion, it's the best TPC course we play. I'm not just saying that because I've won here, I like the way it feels and looks, and it sets up for a lot of drama on TV and for people, and it's a lot of fun to play.

Q. (Inaudible).
J.J. HENRY: Knowing you can miss a shot and still recover, to be honest with you. I haven't been here yet this week, we've been playing the last two days. But the rough is normally pretty high, but at the same time you can still miss the shot and still try to maneuver it, if not on the green, somewhere around it so you can still make par.
The greens, not to say they're flat, but they are a heck of a lot flatter than last week. And I hear the course is in great shape. Normally a par 70 golf course here, though, so not a lot of Par 5s to make up birdies. Normally anywhere between 12 and 16 under par wins the tournament, so you know starting out the week what you've got to shoot.

Q. How impressive is it when you look at the driving range, and how the tournament is growing up and what it's going to be like next year?
J.J. HENRY: I think it's phenomenal. It's another piece to the neat puzzle here, maybe one of the final pieces, obviously with a great title sponsor, a lot of buzz here in southern New England. I was here for media day four or five weeks ago and saw it for the first time and what an amazing groove and what the staff has done here. Bruce Wilson and the First Tee of Connecticut, and I actually I've started a foundation myself and I'm looking forward to kind of helping out and doing some things for the First Tee facility for kids all over Connecticut. It's exciting.
To be honest, this range, as a Tour player to come out here, it's tough to practice, there are not a lot of places to chip. It's nice for a high handicapper because it's so elevated you just kind of get it in the air and you feel you're hitting it forever. But for a Tour player I think that's going to add a lot of -- kind of a neat setup for sure.

Q. Coming home, will you see family?
J.J. HENRY: I'm kind of jockeying back and forth between staying down in Fairfield where I grew up and staying up here. I'm going to stay here tonight simply because I'm playing tomorrow morning and this afternoon. It's where I grew up, and unfortunately with our travel schedule, I do live in Texas now so I don't get to see a lot of my friends and family as much as I would like, and not like I can this week, but for my parents, I have a little boy who's three, and he can kind of run around and my parents can see him. In fact they would rather see him than me anyway, so it works out good.

Q. The Commissioner was talking about the possibility of performance-enhancing drug testing from to the PGA. From a players' perspective, how do you feel about that idea?
J.J. HENRY: Personally I could care less. It doesn't affect me. A lot of people have talked about that integrity and honesty of golf is what makes it so special. I'm not saying one way or the other whether guys are doing it or not doing it. But personally I never have and never will.
It's not really a decision I'm here to make and guess. What the Commissioner does, whatever they decide to do, I obviously will be behind, but I'd like to think there's none of that going on out here, to be only with you.

Q. Talk about winning last year and then playing the Ryder Cup and if you believe that you sort of a matured as a player. Is there one more than the other that leads to that maturation, winning a tournament or becoming a member of the Ryder Cup team?
J.J. HENRY: Basically by me winning last year got me on the team. There's no question about it. So that being said, you know, I've been out here a long time. This is my 7th year. It's hard to believe I've been out on Tour seven years already. But there's something to be said for winning. We're all competitors. We're all winners. We all try to win. Golf can beat you up. I've been knocking my head against the door, so to speak it took me six years to finally break through. You're playing against the best players in the world.
I'm just 32 now, my best golf is still ahead of me. And I learn each week or each month or each year, and then finally to break through in all places here, where I grew up, it's almost like a validation maybe kind of a thing, where I've been close before, but to finally break through and know you can really win, you know that's why we play. Obviously we're very lucky and grateful, we make a great living out here by, in essence, not winning. But at the same time there's something to be said for winning.
And that being said -- even yesterday, it's not a PGA Tour event but it was a neat thing and it gives you confidence. If we go out and finish last the last two days, I'm not going to say I'm not going to play well this week, but any time you win, whether it's a club championship or member/guest, you feel good about yourself. And that being said, winning last year and then even winning the last two days, I feel good about the way I'm playing and I feel good about my mindset going into this week.

Q. You talked about the FedExCup. From a player's perspective, have you noticed a difference in your schedule?
J.J. HENRY: That remains to be seen, we're starting to get to the point where we're more than halfway through the year where I think it will start to make more sense-- not make sense, but players will start to look at it a little bit more. I'll be perfectly honest with you. I think we're excited maybe about what's going to happen with the playoffs and stuff. But earlier in the year I think I was more concerned about going out and trying to play well and letting the chips fall where they may. But I think probably especially after the British Open or after the PGA, that kind of mid July area where guys are, wow, maybe add a tournament or two, depending on where they are in the FedExCup standings before the playoffs.
I think those three or four events with The TOUR Championship are special events, but as a player, I play a lot anyway. I haven't changed necessarily my schedule so far based on where I am in the FedExCup. But I think within the next four, five, six weeks, I think there will be more to talk about, I'm sure.

Q. What part of your game are you working on the most right now?
J.J. HENRY: You know, it's funny, I've been pretty consistent this year, I've played 16 events and made 13 of 16 cuts. But I haven't quite put all the pieces together this week. In seems in a week where I feel great with my ball-striking, my short game will let me down, and vice versa. In the four or five weeks I felt great with my short game, and the best part of my game, my ball-striking, was a little off.
I've tried to become a more consistent player in all aspects of my game, but I concentrate on my wedge game, short game, putting, because I've always felt I was a pretty good ball-striker. But there's no question, I can see it over the last 18 months, all aspects of my game, especially my short game has gotten a lot better and I think that's why I'm seeing better results and more consistency. You have to play well just to make cuts out here.
You know, to make 13 or 14 or 16, it shows I play consistent but I haven't put all aspects of the game together to really contend to technically win this year. That's what I'm looking forward to, now having confidence, feel like my game is in good shape, and now just go out and play and be somewhere where I give myself a chance to win. Because I want to win. That's why we're here, I want to win.

Q. Finishing holes, 15, 16, 17, the golden triangle. Can you talk about your mindset as you approach them?
J.J. HENRY: I remember birdieing 14 on Sunday last year, and it was a big sigh of relief knowing I had a five-shot lead standing on that 15th tee. You can make 2 on 15 or you can make 6. In my opinion, probably the only hole it compares to as far as a great short par is the 10th hole at Riveria. A lot of guys will tell you it's probably their favorite hole on Tour. It's a great little par 4 where you've got to hit a straight shot, but again, you can make 2 or 6.
16 is an underrated par 3, to be honest with you. People don't realize the undulation and slope of that green. Coming down the stretch you have swirling winds through the trees in there. You can hit a shot that normally plays into the wind sometimes, so you can of fire up into that wind and it hits the front, and depending if they shave it down or there's thick rough, you get a little conservative take an extra club and blow it over the green, and now you have to get back over the slope and downhill.
Of course 17, I mean, you're elevated. All you're seeing that water down the right and big bunker on the left, and you know you have to suck it up and hit a great tee shot. And then you're only halfway done with a neat or short to mid iron over water to again a pretty sloped green. It's a great drama with the hillside and all the people out there. It really is probably arguably some of the best three-hole stretch really we play all year.

Q. Pin placement, the difficulty last week and maybe it will be easier this week?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I'm not necessarily, whether we're playing the U.S. Open or the Travelers Championship, you get a pin sheet Thursday through Sunday and they're always anywhere between three and six paces from the left or right or front or back of the green. It's a combination of everything. It's the rough. It's the slope of the green, it's the firmness of the green. It's the added fact you're playing a major so there's a lot more pressure.
It's almost kind of the point where you're like, gosh, you see pin placements, you look at your sheet and there's three paces to the left. And you think is the pin even on the green? It looks weird sometimes. I think four or five -- five maybe should be the limit. But to see a pin three paces from the left or right of the green I think looks weird sometimes. You're standing in the fairway going -- it looks like it's on the fringe sometimes.
But again, it's the best players in the world and regardless of how hard the golf course is, if the conditions are soft and there's not a lot of wind, it almost seems at any Tour event we play, outside of the majors, someone always shoots 5, 6, 7-under par the first day, regardless of the setup. Sometimes eight under par sometimes.
I mentioned, I don't know if you were here, but the mindset this week, normally a par 70 golf course, normally between 12 and 16, 18-under par wins this tournament, so starting the week you know where you've got to get to start the tournament.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, J.J.

End of FastScripts
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297