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July 9, 2009

J.J. Henry


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome J.J. Henry to the interview room. J.J. shot a 6-under today and is currently in the lead after the morning wave. If you'll start off, just give us some general comments about your round, the first round of the John Deere Classic, and then we'll go over your scorecard at the end.
J.J. HENRY: Well, it's always good to be here at the John Deere. Obviously with the rain last night, I couldn't really believe how great a shape the golf course was in this morning. We got out, and very little standing water or mud balls or anything like that.
But that being said, I knew the golf course being so soft that the greens would be very receptive, and this morning had to try to take advantage of greens that -- smooth greens.
I went out and shot 2-under on the back side, birdied 14 and 17, and made the turn and made three straight birdies on 1, 2 and 3, and then birdied 6 and parred in to shoot a bogey-free 65. Obviously a lot of golf to be played, but it's nice to be in this position.

Q. When you go out for your round knowing the course is wet and soft, do you go out with a different mentality?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I think you can aim at a lot more pins, there's no question. You know, I played some holes late Tuesday night, and the golf course was very fast and firm, great shape. It was probably the best shape I've seen the golf course in.
You know, unfortunately Mother Nature had her way last night and yesterday, and knowing that starting this morning, obviously there were some pins that are on some knobs and some tiers and such, so it was tough to control your spin and your trajectory because you'd think you hit a good shot and the ball would spin back 20 or 30 feet. That being said, the fairways play a little bit wider and the greens you can definitely aim it more at the hole if you will. Hence the reason why the scoring has been pretty good.

Q. The analogy of throwing darts would apply?
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, unfortunately that's the way it is. Obviously we'd all love fast and firm conditions, and the golf course was set up for it, especially when I played a couple holes late Tuesday evening. The golf course played great. There was very little water. Obviously it's wet, but I thought the golf course played great.

Q. How is it different versus when you were out here Tuesday?
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, it was a little slower, no doubt, and maybe a little bit bumpier just because of the fact that -- with the softness. But that being said, again, I thought that still had some pretty good speed, still had to be a little bit careful on some of these places above the hole. You could definitely kind of attack. You weren't worried about necessarily knocking it four, five, six feet past the hole.
Just for the most part I didn't make a lot of long putts. I hit the ball close a couple times and took advantage of a couple par-5s and played within myself.
You know, there's three or four holes out here where par is a good score, and I was able to do that. Again, it's nice to get off to a good start.
I'm not in the British Open yet. Maybe I'll have to have my wife FedEx my passport. I didn't want to give it the kiss of death, if you will, but it would be nice to obviously hop on that flight Sunday night and go over and play in the British Open.

Q. How do you take this momentum into tomorrow?
J.J. HENRY: I'll obviously kind of enjoy the night and relax a little bit. I've played a lot of golf. I'm actually pretty tired to be honest with you. So it was nice to be able to kind of have a nice, relaxing, kind of if you could say a stress-free round where I felt like I was in control. So it's nice to be able to maybe conserve a little energy and relax a little bit and get ready for the next three days. You know you're going to have to play well and shoot some low scores out here, especially being soft.
That being said, it's a golf course that there's a lot of excitement and drama coming in. 14, depending on the conditions and where the tee is, a drivable par-4. Obviously on 16 it's a neat par-5. 15 is a great par-4. And then you have a risk-reward par-5 on 17, and then a great 18th hole. It sets up for a lot of excitement hopefully for the weekend, and hopefully I can continue to play well tomorrow and be right there with a chance on Sunday.

Q. You didn't bring your passport?
J.J. HENRY: Well, it's funny, I haven't been home, gosh, in a month. I thought I'd kind of pop in and out and then obviously played in the U.S. Open, and the last two weeks I just haven't been home. Believe it or not, I was going to wait to see how I played today before I told my wife to send it this way. I should probably call her right after I'm done talking to you guys and make sure it's here by tomorrow afternoon.

Q. Can you talk about the Henry House Foundation?
J.J. HENRY: It's something that I started in 2006. It's all for the healthcare and well-being of children. Obviously it's been well-documented the PGA TOUR gives more money to charity than all professional sports combined, but I think as a player we're all very proud of what we do even individually to help the communities we live in or an organization we want to help give back to.
Obviously being on TOUR now, this is my ninth year on TOUR, and I just felt like I always wanted to kind of do my own way or try to make my own -- use myself even as a small piece or a small platform to be able to give back to kids. It's obviously all for kids.
We do some things with the children's hospital where I live in Fort Worth, and we're doing some things with the First Tee in Connecticut where I grew up as well as in the Fort Worth area, as well.
It's just nice to be kind of a small part of helping grow the game or be involved, and hopefully it continues to get bigger and bigger.

Q. Anything that led you in particular to that?
J.J. HENRY: I'm obviously a young father myself. I have two little boys. I just wanted to be able to kind of help grow the game with kids, and even going to some of these children's hospitals and seeing these kids, it's nice to be able to kind of do what we can do, even if it's something small, to bring a smile to their face. It's pretty neat to see it all come full circle.
I have a big tournament every year, every fall. We bring a lot of TOUR players out. We actually partnered with the Ben Hogan Foundation this year, which being in Fort Worth myself I think is pretty special with his legacy and what we're trying to accomplish. We're going to try to build the First Tee of Fort Worth, the facility, with all the proceeds this year. So it's nice to be a part of. It's fun to give back, especially to kids.

Q. Have you felt pressure to have another win?
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, it's been kind of a -- obviously no complaints, but with the success I had in 2006 with winning my first event and then playing in the Ryder Cup in '06 and for the most part I felt like I played great golf when I got a chance to play that week, even though we got beat pretty good. I thought from there I'd really kind of climb the mountain and continue to get better and better, but for whatever reason, maybe just hasn't quite happened the way maybe I thought it would.
But last year I thought was kind of a wake-up call for me. I didn't play particularly well for about the first three quarters of the year and then kind of turned it on at the end really just to keep my card. Lucky, I've obviously been out here nine years and never really come close to losing my card. Last year if anything was kind of a wake up call to maybe spend this winter working on my game. I always used to take some time off, if you will, in November and December and then maybe just kind of start the year slow for whatever reason and then kind of pick it up midway.
I really pushed myself to get better and do the things I need to do. I'm still only 34. I'd like to think my best golf is still ahead of me. With nine or ten years of experience and a Ryder Cup, I feel like I can compete obviously at this level. It's just a question of going out and kind of staying out of my own way sometimes and doing it.

Q. Kind of a standard question I always ask, but when you're playing well, how would you describe yourself as a player? Are you a go-for-the-pin charger or a course management guy? And when you're playing well how does Deere Run match up with you game?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I think I've always been one that -- I've always been a very good ball-striker, always up there in greens in regulation, total driving. So I've been one that hits a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. I would say, though, it's like anybody else, when my putter gets hot, I seem to climb the leaderboard. I wouldn't say I'm the most aggressive player for sure. I feel like I'm a little bit more tactical, maybe make sure I keep the ball in the fairway or maybe play more towards the fat side of the green. Sometimes that's good depending on what tournament you're playing or what hole you're playing, and sometimes maybe it bites me a little bit.
That's why I've always felt for some reason when par is your friend or when you don't have to shoot 20-, 25-under par I seem to do pretty well.
That being said, this golf course, D.A. Weibring, I've always looked up to D.A. He's a great guy. I actually was a player consultant on the redesign that he did, as well, at the Byron Nelson at Las Colinas. I know D.A. very well; I know kind of his style of golf and what he's trying to do, obviously especially learning under him for about a year to try to figure out what we were doing. When we were designing it, a lot of the shots and the bunkers and things at this golf course came up.
It's a fun golf course to play. Like I had mentioned earlier, a lot of risk-reward, a lot of drama, if you will, for the fans with some excitement coming in with drivable par-4s, hard par-4s, kind of a neat par-3 there with the river behind you, and then obviously 17 and 18.
Hopefully the weather stays good. I heard we might have to dodge some weather tomorrow afternoon, but other than that, looks like it's going to set up for a great weekend.
MARK STEVENS: Can you go through your six birdies in your bogey free round.
J.J. HENRY: I started on the 10th hole early this morning, made four straight pars, and then the short -- 14, I hit a 3-wood off the tee, hit a sand wedge to about eight feet and made that for birdie.
17, I hit a great drive, and it was soft, probably the longest I've seen the hole play, and hit a 3-wood right in the middle of the green and two-putted for birdie.
Made the turn. I hit a wedge, drove the ball in the right fairway bunker, hit a pitching wedge to about 15 feet and made that.
2nd hole, par-5, actually thought I hit a good drive but just caught the right rough, had to lay up to 100 yards and spun a wedge to about eight feet, made that.
3rd hole, I hit probably the best shot I've hit in a long time, never left the flag, a 6-iron par-3. You can't see the bottom of the pin, but the crowd went nuts. It landed about three feet short of the hole. It actually hit the pin and landed about six, eight inches from the hole. I was lucky or unlucky. I could have made a hole-in-one on 3.
And then the 6th hole, hit a 2-iron off the tee, it's a short par-4 up the hill, and pin was front of the green. I spun a sand wedge back within a foot, about six inches or a foot again.
I didn't make a whole lot of long putts. Again, I played pretty consistent and didn't really come close to making a bogey, which was nice.

Q. When was the last time you got a hole-in-one?
J.J. HENRY: Actually it was at the 11th hole at TPC Sugarloaf in the Atlanta event, BellSouth, maybe two years ago, three years ago. So it's been a while. I'm probably due for one soon.

Q. Have you ever had a hole-in-one where you couldn't see the ball go in the hole?
J.J. HENRY: You know, I have not. I have not. It's kind of -- that's kind of the exciting part about it. Of course obviously the crowd will let you know at a TOUR event. But no, I think I've had six of them, and all of them I've been able to kind of see and check out, so it's been fun.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you. Good luck this weekend.

End of FastScripts

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