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Henry Gets 14 Points to Rise to Top in Reno-Tahoe Open
Thanks to five birdies, an eagle and only one bogey, J.J. Henry totaled 14 points Saturday to take the 54-hole lead in the $3 million Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club in Reno, Nev.
The 37-year-old Connecticut native, who now lives in Fort Worth, Texas, has accumulated 36 points in the Stableford format, which is being used for the first time this year in the tournament.
The points for the format are: double eagle 8 points, eagle 5, birdie 2, par 0, bogey -1 point and double-bogey or worse -3.
Henry was pleased with how his third round went, but realizes there are still 18 holes to go in a tournament format that many players are new to. "All in all it's a great day, obviously very happy with the position I'm in and look forward to the challenge and kind of the fun and excitement, especially in this format. You really don't know what to expect," he said.
"Obviously if you're playing a medal play and you had maybe a couple shot lead, maybe you'd play a little differently, I don't know. But to have a couple point lead, I'll have to kind of I don't necessarily plan on changing the way I'm playing because obviously I'm doing something right the first three days. So hopefully I'll continue to hit the ball in play and make an occasional putt and go about my business tomorrow." (See below for Henry's full post-round interview.)
Second-round leader Alexander Rocha of Brazil is in second after earning 9 points Saturday to reach 33, while right behind at 32 is John Mallinger (10 points). First-round leader Andres Romero (10) of Argentina is in fourth at 31 points. After eight birdies and a pair of bogeys, Bill Lunde matched Saturday's high total of 14 points to get to 28 and a share of fifth with England's Gary Christian (12) and John Daly (9).
Despite getting seven points less than his total of 16 Friday, Rocha is happy with where he's at entering Sunday's final round. "It was solid," said the 35-year-old of his play Saturday. "I was pretty calm out there, which is encouraging for me. I've never really been in this position before. And I was extremely happy to see that I reacted to it in a calm manner and I was able to control and stay about my business. That was great.
"Midway through the round I started having a great time out there. Once the initial inevitable tension from the first couple holes wore off. And I played really, really well. I was excited about it. I played not particularly I didn't take advantage of the par 5s as much as I would like to. Actually I only made one birdie on par-5s today. But you know, I can't complain after yesterday's scoring bonanza I put together in the par 5s. So it's fine. It's a good round, solid round, nearly flawless golf really. I missed maybe a 3 footer on 17. I misjudged the break, but I played well. I'm happy."
Daly, whose last victory on the PGA Tour came in the 2004 Buick Invitational, got off to a nice start with three birdies through 10 holes. But then the 46-year-old carded four bogeys in five holes - broken up by an eagle on the par-5 13th hole, before a birdie on the last.
"It was going a little south there for a minute," said the two-time major winner. "But you know, I didn't really hit that many bad shots when I made those bogeys. I just shortsided myself on them. You know, in this format two of them could have easily been doubles, and I just I actually played just trying to play for the bogeys. And the worst thing you do is lose three points, but I'm happy those last two putts, I hit a better sand shot I thought on 17 than it turned out. It just didn't span it. But 18 was big."
Also recording 14 points was Josh Teater, who started with 11 points but had a desultory -3 Friday. He's now tied for 19th with 22 points.
For complete scoring details, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboards/current/r472.
After signing his card, Henry met with reporters for the following Q&A.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome J.J. Henry to the interview room here at the Reno Tahoe Open. J.J., we're just talking 14 points today. 36 points overall. Looks like a three point lead going into tomorrow. Maybe just thoughts on the day making a bunch of eagles this week. I know that's big. So maybe just talk a little bit about that and then we'll go to questions.
J.J. HENRY: Yeah. You know, I talked to so many guys yesterday. First off, I really love being here. It's a great place, and I love the format this week for a golf course that lends itself to a lot of risk reward. And if you're going to make some eagles, this is the week to do it and I've been fortunate each day to make an eagle to really kind of either keep the round going or jump start the round, round one. That being said, I think I made what did I make here, about, what, five birdies and an eagle, something like that and maybe one bogey. I've been playing steady golf. Granted, not necessarily trying to overpower the golf course. I think it's important you keep the ball in play here and then kind of set yourself up for some second shots, take advantage of the par 5s, and the 14th hole, they had the tee up, which was great, good to see the tee up there and hit one just left of the green and chipped one in.
All in all it's a great day, obviously very happy with the position I'm in and look forward to the challenge and kind of the fun and excitement, especially in this format. You really don't know what to expect. Obviously if you're playing a medal play and you had maybe a couple shot lead, maybe you'd play a little differently, I don't know. But to have a couple point lead, I'll have to kind of I don't necessarily plan on changing the way I'm planning because obviously I'm doing something right the first three days. So hopefully I'll continue to hit the ball in play and make an occasional putt and go about my business tomorrow.
MODERATOR: All right. Great. We'll go ahead and go to questions.
Q. We all were kind of wondering what kind of points, how they'd shake out this week and you had thrown a number out there, you thought 40 yesterday. Can you look in your crystal ball for tomorrow what it's going to take?
J.J. HENRY: Looks like I'm going to probably need more than 40. I really don't know what's back behind me. I don't even know what I have.
J.J. HENRY: 36. You know, I'm just going to try to go out and try to get to another double digits tomorrow and that would mean somebody would have to play pretty darn good to come from behind to beat me. Again, I guess you'll probably look at the board maybe a little bit more than you would normally just for the fact that somebody makes an eagle you can pass a lot of guys or you can jump a lot of people, a lot of spots. That being said, maybe watch the board a little closely tomorrow, especially your last six, seven eight holes, and whether you play a little bit differently or more conservative or more aggressive coming down the stretch, depending on where you are, I think will lend to the nature of this event.
Coming in it's kind of an exciting finish. I mean 16 tomorrow, obviously it's a tough par 3 down the hill. You know, you'll see everything from minus 3s to birdies there. Same with 17. It's a neat hole. I wish personally, I doubt they're going to do it, but I'd love to see them put the tee up on 17 tomorrow. Maybe have some guys take a rip at that green would be kind of fun. And obviously 18, it's a tricky tee shot, but if you get the tee shot in play, you can definitely give yourself a chance at an eagle. So should set up for a lot of fun finishing up tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Couple of veterans in the pack here, 10 points back or so, Leonard, Daly. Harrington is a little further back. Does that make a difference that there's sort of seasoned guys out there or at this point does that -
J.J. HENRY: No. Like I said all week, I'm just trying to get to a magic number and add it up at the end of the day. Again, I'm going to continue to go out and try to play kind of smart, aggressive, I guess you could say, when the timing is right. But I'm really not even going to look who's behind me. I need to know what I need to do and hopefully by tomorrow it's good enough.
Q. You've had a lot of past success here at this course. Do you think that's been factoring in to your success this week?
J.J. HENRY: I think so. It's hard to you know, it takes a lot of effort and kind of thinking, if you will, to really figure out how far the ball is going to go. I mean, you know, the afternoons out here the wind seems to pick up, so not only are you dealing with winds and swirling winds, but you're dealing with obviously elevation, at least 10 percent late in the day you're dealing with a lot of up and down slope even just on the golf course. There's a lot of variables and factors. At times you feel like you're more of a mathematician than a golfer trying to figure everything out, but my caddie, Pete Jordan, who's played out here, he played on Tour for I think nine years so he knows what he's doing out here, and we've had a good time this week trying to figure it out; and for the most part we've done a pretty good job.
Q. Your scores have improved each day out here. Is that sort of because you have more time to get used to the winds and the unique conditions?
J.J. HENRY: Yeah. I think so. Obviously I've played here for many years, and I feel pretty familiar and confident on the golf course. Kind of pick your spots. You know when you have to do off the tees. If you put yourself in position off the tee, I think it sets up well for approach shots and obviously maybe trying to reach some par 5s. But yeah, I feel comfortable on this golf course. Again, I enjoy being here. It's a great place. And I guess it's been 100 degrees, but I guess it doesn't feel like it's 100, but it's been so dry out here, so I think everybody's had a great week and enjoyed it and hopefully we'll have a fun day tomorrow.
Q. This is kind of a strange one. I don't know if you want to touch this, but this tournament has had really only a couple main winners in the past; Verplank one year, Flesch one year. Do you think it would help a tournament in this situation to have a name player win again?
J.J. HENRY: I don't know. I tend to disagree. I mean granted, there's some major winners and things in the field that maybe they're more of a name player, but you look at Scott Piercy, he won here last year and just won the Canadian Open. He's been playing great all year. I think it maybe goes to skew sometimes the fact of how many great players there are out here. And granted, there's a lot of veteran players that get a chance to play this week that maybe don't necessarily play, and I think that's great. People come out here and they recognize, maybe they haven't seen them play 10, 12 years, but to see a lot of veteran names out here playing, I mean sure, yeah.
I mean would you like to see some guys that have had success in big tournaments, absolutely. But I think it's a credit to the Tour the fact that there's a lot of good players out here week in and week out, and whether it's somebody like me who's trying to win again on Tour or whether it's somebody that's trying to win for the first time, that's kind of reality TV almost at its best, especially in this format.
I think it'll lend for a lot of excitement tomorrow regardless of who's winning and who's not. But yeah, there's a lot of name players and major champions per se that are playing, but at the same time if they were playing great, they probably wouldn't be here right now. They'd be over in Akron as well. That's where I want to go. I mean don't get me wrong. That's where I want to get back there. It's kind of bittersweet, maybe you take that little chip on your shoulder when you're warming up or before the day I'm eating lunch and I'm watching those guys play at Akron, makes me want to get back there for sure.
Q. And another kind of strange one. 13 and 14 are both reachable holes, the 5 and then the 4. It's been a little bit of a backlog. Does that bother the guys at all that you're waiting 15, maybe 20 minutes?
J.J. HENRY: No. We moved around pretty good today. You know, it's kind of the ebb and flow of the golf course. You know, the first 12 holes you probably won't wait a shot and if you have to wait for five or ten minutes, so be it. But I think we'd probably rather see the tee up as a player we'd probably rather see the tee up, more risk reward in a situation like this than guys hitting 5, 6, 7 irons off that 14th tee and kind of hitting a wedge in. We had a little backup on the last hole, but heck, I almost made eagle. So it worked out for the best.
Q. So what did you do with your Yankee hat today?
J.J. HENRY: I wore it to breakfast. Got up out of bed. You know, Symetra has been a great sponsor of mine, so we gotta represent when need be. But I'm fortunate to have a lot of good support. I'm a die hard sports nut. I've been a Yankee fan all my life, growing up in southern Connecticut, close to New York there. But the Yankee hat's going to get a rest for the week and we'll stick to our Symetra sponsor hat for today and tomorrow.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.