JJ Henry wins Buick Championship

JJ Henry's first US PGA Tour win gave the hometown crowd something to really celebrate on Sunday.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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JJ Henry's first US PGA Tour win gave the hometown crowd something to really celebrate on Sunday. Henry shot a 3-under 67 for a victory at the Buick Championship by three strokes, becoming the first Connecticut player to win the 55-year-old tournament. The 31-year-old tipped his hat and applauded the fans as he walked up the 18th to an ovation. He dropped his putter and pumped both fists in the air when his par putt rolled in. He's been coming to the tournament since he was a boy, dreaming each time about a victory. The victory also clinched Henry a spot in his first British Open and moved him to sixth in US Ryder Cup points. Henry, who now lives in Texas, takes home $792,000 (?623,000), his biggest paycheck since joining the tour in 2000. Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore, who had surgery on his left hand in March, tied for second at 11-under. It was Mahan's best finish in two years. He also was looking for his first tour win. Nathan Green was all alone in fourth at 9-under. Former Buick Championship winners Stewart Cink and Woody Austin were in a group, which included Shigeki Maruyama (66) and Bubba Dickerson at 7-under. Henry not only had to beat the field, but had to get out ahead of the weather. The final round was moved up about three hours and golfers went off in threesomes because of the threat of severe storms late in the afternoon. Rumbles of thunder could be heard by the time Henry's group reached No 15. The storms did hold off though, and Henry and his family celebrated on the 18th green to the delight of the thousands of fan lining the bowl-shaped hole. En route to the win, Henry was under par all four rounds and was nearly unflappable for the last two days. He made just three bogeys in the final 36 holes. Henry played here as an amateur in 1998, finishing tied for 56th. This year marks his eighth appearance at the TPC at River Highlands. His previous best finish was a tie for 21st in 2003. He started the day with a two-stroke lead and wasted little time pulling away. He birdied the third, eighth and ninth holes and made the turn at 14-under with a five-stroke lead and plenty of momentum. The gallery grew with each hole and when he sunk a 14-foot putt for birdie on the par-3 No 11, the fans roared. That guy turned out to be right. Henry had built a five-stroke cushion at that point and, with the hardest holes of the course still ahead, the field had some work to do. After hitting his approach in a greenside trap on No. 12, Henry just missed rolling in a 14-footer to save par. He added another birdie on the par-5 No 14 to extend his lead to five strokes over Moore. He would need it. Moore just missed an eagle chip-in on No 15 and tapped in for birdie to stay four back with three holes remaining. But Moore promptly gave one back on the water hole No 16, sending his drive into the pond and scrambled to save bogey. Moore nearly eagled again on No 18 as his approach from 110 yards out skipped over the cup. He tapped in for birdie to clinch second. Mahan birdied his final two holes to clinch his best finish since he tied for second at Reno in 2004 in his rookie season. (AP)