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March 13, 2008

J.J. Henry


LAURY LIVSEY: We would like to thank J.J. Henry for coming in. You had a really nice round today, and it's a little out of the blue. You've never really played well here, your first under-par round, ever, at this event. Can you talk a little about how you played today.
J.J. HENRY: Well, thanks for reminding about that. Appreciate that. (Laughter) Shoot the best round of the day and all I hear is -- no, I'm only joking.
To be honest with you, it's been a little bit frustrating the start of the year for me. I felt like I've actually worked hard early this year and towards the end of last year, and was really excited about starting the '08 season.
You know, I feel like I've been close, I really have. It's just been a little bit kind of, for one reason, I had not quite figured it out. Maybe my ball-striking has been pretty good, and today finally just everything clicked and hit a lot of fairways and greens, which you have to do on a difficult golf course like this.
Obviously there's a long way to go and I'm really excited the way I hit the ball. We all know the greens probably aren't quite as ideal as we would like, but if you do hit a solid putt, it seems to hold its line pretty good. I think it even putts more emphasis on your ball-striking this week, because even from six, eight, ten, 15 feet, you know, it's not like guys are going to be making putts from all over the green.
So that being said, you know, it's a golf course with thick rough, and obviously there's a lot of trouble out there and you know, I think it's right up my alley this week if I continue doing what I'm doing.

Q. Not to pile on lore here, but did you know your record here at Bay Hill?
J.J. HENRY: I had no idea. I know I had not played real well here. Probably haven't -- not that I don't like it or not support it. I just haven't, from the schedule, I don't think I've played here probably more than three or four times.
You know, it's obviously a golf course that's pretty demanding, and at the same time, I think more of a ball-striker's golf course. I like the way it sits up, and you know, again, I feel like this is something that's been coming for a while, with as frustrating as it's been for me at the start. But I really still feel like this is going to be a big year for me, and I'm looking forward to playing some good golf.

Q. How did you keep your hopes up, because if you just look at your results of, you know, three or four missed cuts and a couple of middle-of-the-pack tournaments, even though you feel like you're close, there have got to be times where --
J.J. HENRY: You know, I try to take it positive. I was kind of on the lop-sided wave there in L.A. with 12 or 13 guys; I missed the cut by a shot. Then I go to the Honda and, you know, played decent, just didn't quite put it all together, but, I don't know, finished around 30th.
Then last week, again, go over to the PODS Championship with a positive mind frame and get off to a pretty good start and play in those 90-mile-an-hour winds and miss the cut by a shot again. So it's not like I'm way out of it. And to be honest, if you missed cut last week, you have a pretty good chance of winning if you hung in there that Saturday or Sunday.
Obviously Sean O'Hair, he's kind of the same story. Got off to a slow start, arguably slower than I did, and goes out there and hangs in there and wins, and you're on top of the world again. It's a crazy game. (Laughter) I feel like I'm a good enough player where I'm always going to have my spots or events where I seem to play well. I'd just like to get a little bit more consistent.
Again, I feel like my ball-striking is arguably as good as, you know, 95 percent of the guys out here, but there's definitely when I putt well or work on my short game a little bit and around the greens, which is what I need to do to probably compete on a more week-to-week basis.

Q. Seemed like you knocked a lot pretty close today, and coming down the stretch you missed a couple.
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, obviously you look back and shoulda, woulda, coulda, but playing on a hard difficult golf course, you're not shooting 65. It was a day, too, normally here in Florida, the wind tends to blow in the afternoon and we felt like we got a pretty good day to play and I felt like I tried to take advantage of that and for the most part that's what I did.
Yeah, can I look back and say, yeah, I could have made one here or there, but I'm going to take all positives and hopefully, you know, get up tomorrow morning and continue to do more of the same.

Q. There's a gentleman sharing the lead with you that we all think Freddie Couples is one guy for some reason has always been real popular. Were you a guy that liked Freddie Couples?
J.J. HENRY: He was arguably my favorite, no question.

Q. Why?
J.J. HENRY: Just his demeanor, easy-going attitude, a sports nut, I'm kind of the same mold. Just a fun guy to be around. Obviously being out here a while, I've got to know Freddie pretty well and his caddie, Joe, both of us are from Connecticut and stuff, so there's some New England ties there. Just a fun guy to be around.
I think will be a great captain, obviously for The Presidents Cup, too, just strictly for the fact that I think guys are loose and really enjoy spending time around Fred. He's like anybody you have back home; he just enjoys what he does, and, you know, is friends and likes to go to a game or watch it on TV or do whatever just like we all like to do when we're relaxing at home. He makes it look so easy. And not that it is and not that it's easy for him possibly inside or his head or whatever he's doing.
But when you're watching Freddie play, his demeanor and attitude, he just makes it look so easy and I think that's something, especially for myself, at times I'm almost too hard on myself and I just need to loosen up. I guess you could say it for everybody; I seem to play my best when I can relax and have fun. When I get a little uptight and not necessarily worry but hit bad shots or miss a shot, sometimes it affects the next one and that's probably what I'm trying to get over most right now.

Q. Where on your radar is trying to get back on The Ryder Cup team?
J.J. HENRY: Well, it's obviously probably the goal of mine this year. This is obviously a nice start to it.
Again, I've got a long way to go, there's no question, but with the success -- personally I thought I played pretty well last year and probably as good as anybody on the American Team; as disappointing as it was with the outcome, I tried to take a lot of positives from that week in the fact that when I got a chance to play, I didn't win a match, but I didn't lose one, either. I hit a lot of good shots under arguably the most pressure you can hit.
So that being said, you know, I'd like to think that if I can kind of get back, and whether I don't make it on my own or I'm close, maybe that could be a point where, hey, he was there before and he had pretty good results when he got a chance to play.
You know, I'm definitely looking forward to continue that kind of momentum. Obviously it's a long way to go and we all know with the way the points system is set up that if you play well, you'll make a move, that's for sure.
LAURY LIVSEY: Can we go over your phenomenal five birdies you had?

Q. Nice recovery, Laury.
J.J. HENRY: Good one. Let's see, help me out here, I birdied, the first one was on 4, the par 5 that's now a par 4. I hit a really good drive and I believe a 5-iron to the front. I made a long putt there. I made about, I I'm guessing a 35, 40-footer there for the first birdie.
Hit a 6-iron on 7 just under the hole about 20 feet and made that one.
And then hit a real good shot into 10 with a 9-iron about six feet, eight feet, made that.
12, the par 5 was playing into the wind today. I had to lay up and had about a 120-yard shot, about 15 feet left of the hole there and made that.
And then the last one was the par 3, 14. I hit a 5-iron there left of the hole about probably 20 feet and made that.
So I think I hit every fairway today and 16 greens, so I played pretty well. No bogeys.

Q. You left the last putt on the lip?
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, just didn't quite hit it hard enough. The one thing I think a lot of players, the speed this week is going to be pretty important. It's sometimes hard. We all know Florida with grain and stuff, and it's maybe a little hard with the transition to read a lot of the grain and slope.
So I think I just didn't quite hit it hard enough. It was the right line but just lost a little speed. Would have been nice to make it. Especially the two guys I'm playing with, it would have been nice to chip-in for birdie.

Q. When they chipped in, do you think, well, now the hole is open, or the odds are going against you?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I guess it's a big hole. Either it's a real big hole or it's filled up. You know, again, I had a pretty good look at it. I hit a great shot in there, really good 3-wood and an 8-iron to about, I don't know, what was that, eight, ten feet and just kind of ran out of speed.
Yeah, I do actually have a new caddie this week. Actually the caddie, one of my best friends has been caddying for me forever, went skiing this week and took the week off. You know, we're just kind of seeing -- his name is Martin, he's a great guy and actually caddied for Rocco Mediate last year when he finished second. A great guy, just a real happy-go-lucky. He's probably been out here 20 years and definitely helped me a lot.
Again, for me, if I relax and have a good time, I seem to play well and that's what we did today. We laughed a lot and joked and kind of enjoyed the day. Again, it's a lot easier to enjoy it when you're 5-, or 6-under than 5- or 6-over. But that being said, we had a good attitude and good demeanor, and that's probably one of the reasons why I've played well today.
He's been out on TOUR forever and caddied for everybody.

Q. So you were relaxed and not uptight at The Ryder Cup?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that. (Laughter).
You know, The Ryder Cup for me was one of those deals where I'm a very competitive person, probably like everybody else out here. But I really felt like going in, which is important, people ask me all the time, well, what did you feel, how did you play so well, or, you know, it's one of those deals, if you're playing well going into it, or even in the days when you're there, I really feel like as someone who is competitive, you can really enjoy the moment.
If maybe you're a little off your game or you're a little unsure of yourself, I think it can almost be overwhelming, if that makes sense, and I was very confident that week. It seemed like everything was very easy hitting the shots.
You know, even leading up to it, I was hitting it well and I got a chance to play right out of the box, Stewart Cink and I, and we had a great match. I think we played so well that day, it was probably the best match; that we led off the four-ball the next morning, and really had another great match. They did the same thing, really, because they thought, well, hey, let's try leaving these guys off again and we ended up playing the same two guys the following day.
Again it was very disappointing. Granted it was one of best weeks of my life but it is all about the team that week. It is extremely disappointing, but at the same time I try to take a lot of positives that, hey, I was in the hunt and even coming down the stretch on the back nine, I hit a lot of good shots coming in. That's why I guess even 2007 for me was a little disappointing, and it's like anything else on TOUR.
You start playing well and you see yourself kind of going and going and going, and I'm only 32. I'd like to think my best golf is still ahead of me, with eight years under my belt and I've won once and got a chance to play in something like The Ryder Cup, hopefully that's something I can learn from and do those things and the next six, eight, ten years hopefully are my best ones. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Q. Having had that experience that you just talked about at The Ryder Cup, how much did it make you crave being on that next team?
J.J. HENRY: Oh, there's no question. Internally, it's something that -- I'm excited about this year, I really am. That's why I've been a little bit disappointed in the start that I've gotten off to. It's going to be a great year for me, I really believe that; whether it's this week or next week -- for some reason, if you look back over my career now, eight years, I've never really played well early in the year. I've always been somebody that -- whether it was that I grew up north and didn't play a lot of golf this time of year, I've never played well.
I've had a couple of spots where I've played and had chances to win, but for the most part, I've always played my most consistent golf from about May through August, and sure enough, it kind of looks like we are back on that path again this year. But hopefully not. Again, I feel like it's right there, but we'll have to wait and see, and be patient. If I keep a good attitude and still work on kind of fine-tuning some things, hopefully good things will continue to happen.

Q. Have you learned a lot about course design from D.A.?
J.J. HENRY: You know, D.A. Weibring -- I help D.A. Weibring with the resign, Harrison Frazar and I were player consultants at the Las Colinas event, the TPC there. I was honored to be a part of it, with Byron Nelson before he passed away and living in Fort Worth, it's something real special to me. He's one of the guys I have always looked up to, Byron, obviously what he did on the golf course and off, and all the things he stood for. Even if it's a tiny part in trying to help that tournament, it was something pretty cool, there's no question about it.
It was my first real experience doing that, and if nothing else, just more of a set of eyes for D.A. and the staff to help different things and be more of like a liaison for the players and answer questions or anything they might have.
With what we might have to work with, it's going to make for a great tournament and a lot of drama, and they have done some neat things and I think optically -- from a player's standpoint, a lot of the tee shots were awkward there and we made the best with what we had to work with, just trying to fine tune it and make some different -- visually, hopefully help the guys out a little bit.
LAURY LIVSEY: Thank you.

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