An Interview With: J.J. HENRY
September 20, 2006
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everyone, the latest on the conveyor belt of the American players, at least it feels that way, we'll get straight in. J.J., you've been here already, you're back this time for the real thing. How do you feel going into the Ryder Cup?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I'm obviously very excited. I think, you know, being the fact that golf is such an individual sport, I think this week is something I've personally looked forward to for a long, long time, the competitiveness. Having all 11 players on your team and even the caddies, even this afternoon, all 12 of us walking down the fairway with caddies, Captain's Assistants, that's what it's all about. I'm obviously extremely excited about the week.
I feel like I'm really playing well. My last couple of starts in the States showed a lot of good things and I played great yesterday and hit some good shots today. I'm really looking forward to getting in there and helping in any way I can.
Q. You know that Tiger has said that he's going to take care of you guys, and he took you guys out to dinner and discussed what's expected and whatnot. How has he helped you or what's he done?
J.J. HENRY: It's probably the most talked about dinner I've ever been at.
What I'd like to say is obviously we all respect and admire what Tiger does on the golf course, and we look up to him and the fact that, you know, every time he goes out and plays, it seems like he does something else that's just unbelievable. When he's out playing, I really enjoy watching and it's something as a player, now 31 years old, hopefully coming into the prime of my career, I've been out here six years. I admire him as a golfer, but as a person, he's a lot of fun to be around.
Yeah, at the dinner we talked about golf, we talked about everything. I think I Tiger really enjoys the fact, too, that he's now got guys his own age on the team that he can relate with now, and he's married now, we all have young families, new wives.
Tiger, his first Ryder Cup in '97, most of the guys on the team were twice his age. Yeah, he learned a lot from those guys, but it's neat, the camaraderie. All of us guys have a lot in common, and the fact that outside of golf a lot of the same things are going on in our lives. He's obviously an extraordinary talent but he's also a lot of fun to be around.
Q. Are you surprised he's willing to take you under his wing and mentor you?
J.J. HENRY: Yeah, again, absolutely. Any other week, like anything else, we want to beat each other and we respect the fact that, you know, it friendly competition. But I look at this as a great opportunity for me as well to learn as a player, to be able to be around someone like Tiger for a week at a time and maybe pick his brain, talk about different things. Regardless if it's this week, next week, years down the line, it's only going to help my career and escalate me to that level.
Q. Ian Woosnam was in here earlier and said that these weather conditions are probably an advantage to the European Team because they are more used to playing in them, and he also said that because the air is heavier here, that fades and draws are affected probably more than the same wind would be in America. Do you agree that's an advantage to the European Team and do you notice the same thing about the winds here?
J.J. HENRY: Well, me personally, I grew up in the northeast, just about 30 minutes, 45 minutes outside of the New York area. So I played in a lot of lousy weather so to speak. Sometimes you had so many layers on you couldn't swing. I grew up with the fact that I was used to the fact that it's not 75 and sunny every day, and I did go to school in Texas and now I live there and I've lived there for a while so I'm accustomed to playing in a lot of wind.
I hit the ball a long way, as far as length is concerned. The strength of my game is driving. Personally you could argue maybe the whole team, but as far as I'm concerned, I think I'm excited and the harder the better as far as I'm concerned.
Q. When you came out of TCU a few years ago, you had 'can't miss star' written all over you. Six years later you're starting to come into your own. What happened?
J.J. HENRY: Well I've always said there's a learning curve out here. I think that even when you get back to my college career, I always worked my regardless of the stage I was at, whether it's junior, amateur golf, college, I always worked my way up the ladder and I was able to do it with a lot of success, really at the top of the college tier so to speak with all of the accolades and such.
I knew I had it in me, I knew I was confident in my ability, but at the same time, I was willing to be patient to try to learn each week or each year, and as far as I was concerned, as long as I felt like I was getting better and better hopefully and continued to put in time and effort, things would pay off, and here I am now, six years later. Yeah, I would think I would have won and done some more things, yeah, absolutely. But again, as history has shown, most players play their best golf kind of in their 30s and on with the exception of Tiger and Sergio and Adam Scott, some younger players.
Now I'll get a chance to play in the Ryder Cup with six years of TOUR experience. Regardless of how do I this week, I think it's going to hopefully escalate and help my career going forward.
Q. You played alternate shot today. Do you like alternate shot, dislike it? How did that format fit your game?
J.J. HENRY: You know, I feel like I have the game and personality where I'd be comfortable playing in either one. I have played some match play experience before, not a whole lot of alternate shot. I have played one international team event, the Palmer Cup, which is like the Walker Cup for college players. Alternate shot is unique obviously. Whether I play one, the other, I'm just looking forward to going out and help the team any way I can.
I feel like I'm playing well, and whether that's playing one match or all five, I'm excited and going to give my 110% and just look forward to going out and trying to bring a point home.
Q. It's general knowledge that certain guys are being paired together. Who do you feel like out of the other guys on the team you'd feel more comfortable with or you could help because of the way you play?
J.J. HENRY: Well, again, you know, even as Captain Lehman mentioned, I honestly feel like, you know, you mentioned, yeah, I've been out with Stewart a lot the last couple days, who we have very similar games. But again, my personality, I think I can kind of mix and really fit in honestly with anybody, whether it's Tiger or whether it's one of the three other rookies or whether it's some of the other guys who have been there before.
Again, regardless of who I play with, you know, I think we all respect and know each other a lot. I don't think there's a lot of, you know, 'I'm sorry, partner' kind of stuff going on or you're worried about playing with a certain person or a certain partner.
Bottom line is we're going to go out and try to win a point, and whoever I'm playing with or what format, I'm excited to go out and do it.
Q. Just to go back to what you were saying about growing up in Connecticut and playing, can you just tell us, what are the worst conditions you remember ever playing?
J.J. HENRY: Well, that's a good question. There's actually a tournament, I want to say last year or two years ago in South Korea where we played a PGA TOUR sanctioned event, and I can't remember whether it was the second day, but it was probably blowing this hard and raining sideways and probably about 20 degrees colder. That was probably the toughest conditions I remember playing in in a competitive atmosphere. And I had either the low or second low round of the day.
Not to say that I enjoy playing in conditions like this, but I feel like, hey, it's the same for everybody and you've got to just accept it and go on. It is what it is. You know, it's going to be hard for everyone, and for that matter, you've got to just kind of deal with it.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
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