J.J. Henry finds himself tied for second, one stroke off Jason Dufner’s lead, after three rounds of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. His good performance so far could be attributed to at least two factors:
• He was a player consultant for the D.A. Weibring redesign of the TPC Four Seasons Resort course a few years ago. In other words, he knows the course like the back of his logoed glove, or as he says, “the humps and bumps and idiosyncrasies.”
• Perhaps more important, he got some up-close and frank wisdom when 1996 PGA champion Mark Brooks caddied for him last week at The Players.
“He was a hard ass,” Henry said of his fellow Fort Worth resident. “It was fun to have him challenge me, and he told me how close I am to playing well. I learned a lot from somebody I’ve looked up to for his demeanor and intensity for the game.”
Henry said Brooks helped him with little shots around the green and clearly the advice has “paid off.”
Brooks over the years has been known as a tough player, a fighter, someone who got a lot out of his game. This week that kind of mindset has been good for Henry, who has now made six consecutive Tour cuts after missing in seven of his first 10 starts this year.
“Sometimes I take the game for granted,” said Henry, the TCU graduate whose lone PGA Tour victory came at the 2006 Buick Championship in his home state of Connecticut. “He helped me raise the bar higher. He thinks I’ve underachieved out here. He didn’t sugar-coat anything. If I hit a bad shot, he’d say, ‘We can find a way to make four. He’d tell me to relax and enjoy the battle and the fight. Embracing the challenge, that’s what I learned most. He has a knack for fighting it out, and that has been lacking in my game.”