By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- J.J. Henry last played the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2009. He enjoyed his first competitive round in Las Vegas in several years, shooting a course-record 60 on Thursday to take the lead at TPC Summerlin. Henry made a 50-foot eagle putt on No. 9, his final hole of the day.
"It was one of those days," said Henry, a two-time PGA TOUR winner. "There wasn't much wind and the greens were pretty soft. It was nice to make that putt on the last hole to make lunch taste that much better."
He started his round on No. 10 and made birdies on Nos. 12 and 15-17 to make the turn in 4-under 32. Five birdies and an eagle gave him a 7-under 28 on his second nine.
"I played solid on the front nine. It's still pretty cold in the morning," said Henry, who teed off at 7:42 a.m. "I was just trying to get my feet wet and shoot a couple under par." He played his final six holes in 6 under par, with four birdies and that closing eagle. He hit 17 of 18 greens Thursday, and was bogey-free.
He'll have to continue to make birdies this week. The winning score has been at least 20 under par in four of the five years this event has been a 72-hole tournament held exclusively at TPC Summerlin; the winning score was 19 under the other year. The champion's average 72-hole score since 2008 has been 262.4, an average of 65.6 per round
"Any time you start with the round I had, it gives you a lot of confidence for the rest of the week," Henry said. The previous course record of 61 was last shot in 2012 by eventual winner Ryan Moore.
Henry hadn't finished better than 46th in five previous appearances at this tournament. He opened the 2013-14 season with a 16th-place finish at last week's Frys.com Open, making just four bogeys and a double-bogey in 72 holes.
"With the changes (to the schedule), I thought it was important to get myself off to a good start," Henry said, referring to the TOUR's inaugural "wraparound" schedule. He did that Thursday.