April 14 2011
J.J. Henry hasn't won on the PGA TOUR since 2006 in Hartford. But the way he's been playing this year, you've got to think that could be about to change.
The Connecticut transplant, who went to school at Texas Christian and settled in Fort Worth, hasn't missed a cut in 10 starts this season. Henry has finished 20th or higher in half of those events, including in five of his last six.
And Thursday brought more of the same kind of consistent play from Henry, who fired a bogey-free 67 on a breezy Thursday that earned him the clubhouse lead at the Valero Texas Open.
"I think the key out here is definitely a ball striker's golf course," said Henry, who owns a one-stroke advantage over charley Hoffman, Jhonattan Vegas, Vaughn Taylor and Joseph Bramlett.
"The key is to keep it in play. There's holes you can definitely get in trouble out here. I drove the ball great today and hit the ball pretty close. Pretty stress-free day which, obviously, on a golf course like this, is nice to do that I'm sure."
Henry missed the cut a year ago when the Valero Texas Open first moved to the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. He feels that he’s a more complete player this year, though, and it shows in that string of solid finishes.
"My strength has always been my driving and hitting a lot of greens, not necessarily where you have to shoot 20 under par to win a golf tournament," Henry said.
"... I've been a lot more consistent this year. I've worked hard on my short game and my putting is really starting to come around."
Indeed. He ranks 73rd in putting average this year compared with 115th, 160th and 178th in the three previous seasons. Henry also ranks sixth in ball-striking, 13th in greens in regulation and 19th in scoring average.
"I'm 36 years old now, just turned last week, so, hopefully, my best golf is still ahead of me," Henry said. "The consistency is there and that's what I like. It's just a question of giving myself a couple chances, obviously maybe having that one round.
"… I feel confident and fortunately on a golf course like this you got to feel confident, the holes with a lot of slope and different undulating shots. Definitely a ball striker's golf course. Hopefully I can continue to hit it well and see what happens the next couple of days." -- Helen Ross