By Chris Elsberry
CROMWELL – Standing just short of the cart path in the middle of the 18th fairway after hammering a mammoth drive, J.J. Henry was thinking about one thing: finish strong.
Very early momentum with a birdie at No. 1 had been lost with a double bogey at No. 2. But over the next 15 holes, Henry had righted the ship and gotten himself on the first page of the leaderboard at 6-under-par, well within range of leader Bubba Watson.
But with just 102 yards to the pin, Henry chunked his approach into the right greenside bunker, blasted it out into some heavy grass and had to settle for bogey that left a slightly sour taste in what was an otherwise a solid second round.
“That’s golf, sometimes,” Henry said. “Sometimes you’ve got to bite your tongue and move on that that’s what I did. I was over par on two holes and both of them were really from the middle of the fairway. Had a pretty bad lie (on 18) and just knocked it into the bunker. I kind of hit a bad wedge on 2 and it hit a tree and kicked left.”
A great wedge shot on 1 to two-feet for birdie got Henry going to start round two but then that mistake at 2 turned into a double that dropped him to 1-under. But Henry banged home a 10-footer at 6 for birdie, added a 15-footer for birdie at 9 and then reeled off a string of three straight birds at 12 (11-feet), 13 (10-feet) and 14 (14-feet) to get to 6-under.
“I bounced back there really nicely,” he said. “I made a couple of nice, 10-, 15-footers when I needed to. For the most part I played pretty solid. It got me back in the mix somewhere and if I can kind of get something going like I did in the middle of the round today (Friday), hopefully I can give it a good run.”
Ironically, a strong weekend finish would be something that Henry hasn’t accomplished here at the TPC River Highlands in a while. Aside from shooting 63-67 on the weekend that he won the Buick Championship in 2006, his third round 64 in 2010 was followed by a 72 and his 65 last year was followed by a 71.
“You know, you put a lot of pressure on yourself because you want to make sure you’re here for four days and this tournament means so much,” said Henry, who countless times has referred the Travelers as his fifth major. “It’s great to be in this position and obviously I’m going to be pretty far back, but even just to play in front of family and friends on the weekend is special. If I have a really good weekend, who knows what might happen.”
Henry happy at the halfway point
By Chris Elsberry