Henry starts strong in bid to keep top-125 streak alive


GREENSBORO, N.C. – The list of players who have cracked the top 125 in PGA Tour earnings every year since 2001 is only eight names long.

It includes the likes of Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia … and J.J. Henry.

While he might not be a household name, Henry has been among the most consistent performers on Tour for more than a decade. Since rising from the ranks of the Web.com Tour in 2000 he has never had to worry about playing privileges for the following season.

Heading into the regular-season finale, though, that streak is in jeopardy. Henry is currently 130th in FedEx Cup points and 139th on the money list for 2013-14, with a possible trip to the Web.com Tour Finals looming.

Finding himself in unfamiliar territory on the bubble, Henry got off to a strong start Thursday at the Wyndham Championship, carding a 4-under 66 in the opening round to breathe life into his postseason aspirations.

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“This is my 14th year out here, and I’ve never been in this position,” Henry said. “It’s kind of a stressful week, (but) at the same time I am up to the challenge.”

Henry has made nine of his last 10 cuts, a streak that dates back to The Players Championship, but he has failed to capitalize on those chances over the weekend. His last top-25 finish came at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where he tied for 13th, and his best result since then was a tie for 34th at last month’s Barracuda Championship.

The 39-year-old admitted that as his struggles continued this summer, the top 125 bubble remained at the forefront of his mind.

“I’ve been thinking about this for months,” he said. “I put myself in that position, and it’s not a position to be in. At the same time, it makes you dig deeper. Maybe in the long run, it will make me stronger and want it more.”

While many players on the bubble this week at Sedgefield are avoiding leaderboards and FedEx Cup projections, Henry is opting for the opposite approach.

“I’m kind of embracing the challenge, as opposed to dreading it,” he said. “At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.”