What they said: J.J. Henry

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August 05, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Reno-Tahoe Open transcript archive

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome our 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open champion to the interview room. J.J., congratulations. Second PGA TOUR victory. 250 FedExCup points and a trip to Kiawah Island next week. Maybe just talk a little bit about today and the week as a whole and then we'll go to questions.

J.J. HENRY: Well, it's been a long time coming. This is my twelfth straight year on TOUR. I got my first victory in 2006, but to finally kind of get over that hump again, it means a lot, not only to win, but to win here in such a neat place. Reno-Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, and I've been fortunate enough to come back year in and year out really since the tournament started, with the exception of maybe playing good a couple of times and being over in Akron.

But I love coming here; I love the people. Obviously I love the format this week. It just added for a lot of excitement. We had great crowds, great sponsors, great volunteers. We did a lot for the military, and the military was very supportive this week, so I couldn't think of a better place to get my second win than right here in Reno.

THE MODERATOR: Great. We'll go ahead to questions.

Q. You know that stretch right at the end of the Front 9 where you birdied two or three in a row and you got the lead up to six. Did you shut it down a little bit? Did you stop shooting at flags?

J.J. HENRY: To be honest with you, I didn't really shut it down, but the golf course played pretty difficult. The wind really blew and swirled around our last 12 or 13 holes. I credit my good buddy, and my caddie, Pete Jordan, who's actually back there. Pete played on TOUR for nine years, so very grateful to have not only a great friend, but somebody that really helped me a lot this year when we hooked up.

And you know, I'm grateful to have somebody that really has been in this situation. He's played on TOUR for nine years. So I figured I had a lot of experience on my bag. And you know, I took the attitude that I probably had as much experience as most guys playing this week, or guys close to the lead, if not more. So I was very confident this week, very kind of at peace. And you know, I even said to some friends and my caddie, not to sound cocky or full of yourself, but I really thought I was going to have a great week, and sometimes when you believe it, good things happen, and that's exactly what happened this week for me.

Q. Can you talk about your mindset on 18 when the lead shrunk to three? Kind of take us through that hole.

J.J. HENRY: Well, Alex, first he played great. It's only his second year on TOUR, and I think he hasn't had a great season, but he really played well today, really kept the pressure on, got up-and-down, made some great up-and-downs; then he birdied 17, a great birdie, maybe one of the hardest holes on the golf course.

I'm just kind of trying to hit the green and 2-putt and get out of there, it seemed like. And you didn't really know what to expect in this format. I knew I had about a couple-point lead and then he birdied 17. And I played 18 fairly conservative after seeing what he did off the tee knowing the fact that he'd basically have to make eagle as long as I made par.

And again, it was -- I took a lot of experience, you know, today, I think, being in this position in the past and getting the chance to play in a Ryder Cup and do some things. I definitely think my experience helped me out.

And even some of the things that didn't go my way this year. You could argue that I probably should have won the Byron Nelson tournament. I had a one-shot lead with two holes to play back in May, and for whatever reason it just didn't work out. But to kind of come back this week in the hunt, to be nervous, to be anxious, to get the job done feels great.

Q. J.J., I did a little bit of math before you came in. You guys would have been tied at 17-under, under normal stroke-play scoring.

J.J. HENRY: Well, it is what it is. Not really. I played somewhat conservative on 18. I hit a 7-iron to the front of the green. So I'm not even really going to go there. It is what it is. I knew all I had to do was win by a point, and that's exactly what I did. I'm proud of how I finished, and again, take a lot of credit with the experience of a great buddy and caddie on the bag and we came through today. I'm proud of it.

Q. What do you think it is about this course that makes you play so well? You talked a little bit about it yesterday. This is four Top 10s here now, including a win.

J.J. HENRY: Again, a lot of it is attitude, wanting to be here, wanting to play, wanting to try to figure out how long a shot is playing. You have elevation, you have wind, you have uphill, downhill. The greens get firm and fast.

I think i said yesterday sometimes you feel more like a mathematician than you do a golfer trying to factor all the altitude and the up-and-down and the swirly winds. But I've been playing well for about six weeks now, and I felt like if I was patient and I did some things and we worked on the right things, that I'd have a chance to win. And sure enough, I did this week. And again, I can't think of a place that I admire and enjoy coming more than this to get my second win.

Q. J.J., did you change club selection for 18 after Alex hit it??

J.J. HENRY: We were talking about it before he hit his shot. Pete and I my caddie were talking about let's see what he does and where he goes and that'll kind of make the decision on what we do on the second shot. And when I saw he hit it pretty far left -- I heard it hit the cart path. I didn't know where it ended up. We were just trying to play it just short left of the green -- that's exactly what we did -- knowing that in essence par would probably be good enough.

Then I chipped it up there about ten feet, and gosh, he made a great up-and-down to make me 2-putt to win. So I was still pretty nervous on that 10-footer just trying to get up there somewhere near the hole and tap it in.

As I mentioned down on the green, too, I've got a lot of great support. My family, a lot of great sponsors, but you know, my wife and two boys aren't here. My two boys are now eight and three, and they can kind of -- my oldest now is starting to play golf, and you know, when I'd leave town, obviously we're on the road 30?plus weeks a year. When I'd leave town, obviously he's eight now, but he still says it. My three-year-old goes, "Daddy, bring home trophy." And that's really all I thought about out there those last couple holes was "Daddy, bring home trophy." And I said it out there on the green, I'm coming home tomorrow with a trophy.

It's neat now. I'm a little bit of a different time in my life with family. I'm 37. I've been out here 12 years, and I had a chance to represent my country in the Ryder Cup, and now to get my second win. Hopefully this will really kind of jump-start my second career, if you will, with the fact that I've got 12 years of experience on TOUR. I've got probably the most experienced TOUR caddie out here. It's just a question of continuing to work hard, and obviously this kind of frees me up and lets me kind of enjoy playing golf and not putting so much pressure on myself now that I finally got over the hump and got that second win.

Q. Somebody mentioned a statistic that your first win came in something like your 176th start, and this is something like your 178th start after almost the exact --

J.J. HENRY: I hope I don't have to wait another 176 starts. But it is what it is. Again, I'll take it.

You know, I was always someone where I felt like, you know, I kind of worked my way up the ladder, if you will. I was the college Player of the Year in '98. I got my TOUR card a couple of years out of college, and I've been very consistent out here. I've never lost my card in 12 straight years. So there's something to be said for the consistency. I've probably finished second five or six times.

But for whatever reason I couldn't quite get over the hump and win like I did in 2006, and I made the Ryder Cup team that year, and I really felt like that would be kind of that turning stone for me, if you will, to really kind of jump me into that upper echelon, and for whatever reason it didn't happen. I continued to work hard; I play a lot of tournaments. Again, I'm grateful for the opportunity to play golf for a living. I've got great support, family and friends; and I couldn't be happier right now. It really feels good.

Q. You mentioned the Byron Nelson. Did you think about that today or since then have you thought about --

J.J. HENRY: Yeah, I thought about it a little bit. You know, absolutely. You know, I said to Pete, my caddie, I said, come on, pro, let's finish this off. We've played great all week. And to be honest with you, those were some stressful holes coming in. I mean 16, 17 and 18, 16 is a really tough par-3. 17 there's a big number kind of waiting to grab you up if you either miss-hit the tee shot or kind of a tight little second shot into that elevated green.

And then 18 was downwind today, but it's somewhat of a tough tee shot. If you get the tee shot in play, you can obviously reach it in two, but there's a lot of drama and a lot of things that kind of go through your mind, good, bad and indifferent on those last couple holes.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else? We good.

J.J. HENRY: Thanks so much, guys. Appreciate all the support this week. Thank you.

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