PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Late Wednesday at Oak Hill J.J. Henry worked his way through a series of putting drills while Mark Brooks instructed.
This is notable only because just hours earlier Brooks, the 1996 PGA Championship winner, had withdrawn from this year’s event, opening a spot for the first alternate who was Henry.
Henry and Brooks both live in Fort Worth, Texas, and Brooks has caddied for Henry on several occasions, including this year’s Players Championship. After Brooks withdrew he spent about an hour and half working with Henry on his short game.
“He had knee surgery on his left knee about 2 ½ months ago. As a past champion you want to be here, but he has like nine weeks coming up on the Champions Tour and I know his knee has been bothering him a little bit,” said Henry, who arrived Monday and has been the first alternate since last Wednesday. “I think Mark would admit this is a pretty big golf course for him as well.”
Landing what may be the last spot in the field reminded Henry of the last time he played Oak Hill, at the 1998 U.S. Amateur.
“I didn’t play well in the (stroke-play portion),” Henry said. “I won a (10-for-9) playoff for the last spot into match play. Now here I am 15 years later as the last guy to slip into this field. Hopefully, I can have that same kind of run.”