J.J. Henry dons an "SHES" on his cap on Friday at Kapalua. (Petersen/Getty Images)
By Ann Miller, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
KAPALUA, Hawaii — J.J. Henry has added a touching “SHES” to his cap this week at the windblown Hyundai Tournament of Champions. It is the Connecticut native’s way of honoring the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims.
“What I have on my hat speaks for the entire PGA TOUR family, from players to media to fans and everybody,” Henry said. “We are thinking about them. This being the first event in Hawaii, I hope it’s a nice way to help out the families and let them know we are thinking about them.”
Henry, who finished eighth in his only previous TOC in 2007, grew up in Fairfield. That’s some 20 miles south of the school where last month’s shooting took the lives of 26 children and teachers.
Henry calls it an “unthinkable tragedy” that hit close to home. His parents still live in Fairfield and the Sandy Hook kids are now back in classes at Chalk Hill Middle School, where Henry remembers playing basketball.
“I didn’t know any of the families directly, but they are so close to that same close-knit community where I grew up that I felt like I did,” the three-time Connecticut State Amateur Golf Champion said. “It’s just a small gesture to say we are thinking of you.”
He wore the hat in Wednesday’s Pro-Am and Friday’s abbreviated first round, which was thrown out when Kapalua Plantation became unplayable. The two rounds scheduled for Saturday were also cancelled and the TOC will try to start a third time Sunday with 36 holes planned. The final 18 — the tournament is now cut to 54 holes — will be Monday.
Henry will wear his hat every day, and hopes to do well enough that more people will see it. NBC’s presence Sunday with The Golf Channel is the first network coverage of the Hyundai TOC since it moved to Kapalua in 1999.
“Those families have gone through the holidays and it’s been cold and snowy there,” Henry says, “So if I can get out and play well and they see it they will know the PGA TOUR is thinking of them. I want to honor them.”
Henry went to college at Texas Christian and now lives in Fort Worth. He founded the Henry House Foundation in 2006, the year he got his first PGA TOUR win at the Buick Championship. The foundation “promotes health care and well-being” for kids in Fort Worth and Southern New England. Henry won last year’s Reno-Tahoe Open to get to Kapalua.