Henry takes lead at Buick tourney

Published 1:29 am Sunday, July 2, 2006

J.J. Henry shot a 7-under par 63 to grab the third-round lead at the Buick Championship on Saturday before an appreciative hometown crowd.

He’s strung together three straight rounds under par and is at 11-under 199 heading into Sunday. It’s his first 54-hole lead since joining the PGA Tour in 2000.

Harrison Frazar (65) was two strokes back and alone in second place. Ryan Moore (67), coming off hand surgery in March, and Colombian rookie Camilo Villegas (66) were three strokes off the lead.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Henry, who grew up in Fairfield, used his putter to put himself in contention to win his first PGA Tour tournament and the one event he’s always wanted to capture. He watched it growing up, and played it as an amateur in 1998, finishing tied for 56th. This year marks his eighth appearance at the TPC at River Highlands. His best finish was a tie for 21st in 2003.

Although he now lives in Texas, the gallery wasn’t about to let him forget his roots.

The crowd roared, and one fan shouted “hometown hero!” after Henry sunk a 25-footer for birdie on the No. 17 signature water hole to go to 12 under. Henry pumped his fist and tipped his hat.

“With all the crowd out there, I just felt so good, I said ‘man, I want to make the crowd roar, and sure enough I hit it right in the middle of the hole,”’ Henry said. “I kind of carry the Connecticut flag growing up here. Now to be out here with a chance to win the tournament, it’s very special.”

Steve Flesch (64), Trevor Immelman (68) and Peter Lonard (70) sat four strokes off the lead.