Henry claims second Barracuda title
RENO, Nev. — J.J. Henry had to work a little extra Sunday afternoon to become the second two-time champ in Barracuda Championship history, but he didn’t mind a bit.
Henry, who won the tournament in 2012, drained a 15-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the second hole of the sudden-death playoff to overcome a record-setting day by Kyle Reifers, who was denied his first PGA victory despite scoring 22 points. Both golfers ended 72 holes with 47 points.
Reifers had forced the second playoff hole with a clutch 12-foot birdie to equal Henry’s tap-in birdie.
Patrick Rodgers finished with 46 points and Andres Gonzales, the 36-hole leader, was fourth with 43 points. David Toms was fifth at 42 followed by Retief Goosen (42) , who was solo sixth. Derek Fathauer, Brendan Steele and 2009 champ Steve Flesch tied for seventh with 40 points.
With the victory, Henry gets $558,000 plus automatic entry into next week’s PGA Championship and moves up to 76th in the FedEx Cup standings. It was his third win of his career, and two of them have been in Reno. The win just continues Henry’s love affair with the area and the course.
“It hasn’t been the best year for me, to be honest with you,” Henry said. “I’ve been fortunate enough now to be out here (on tour) for 15 straight years. I knew I was coming to Reno and Montreux, and just so many great, positive memories here. Even before winning in 2012, I had I think three or four maybe top-5 finishes here.
“I just love, just love being here. You know, it gives me a chance now to — you know, and hopefully ride that momentum, if you will. So hopefully (this will lead to) a nice little stretch of golf here to ride out the momentum. To make eagle on the playoff like that feels great.
And it’s just a fun format. You saw all kinds of fireworks.”
Most of the fireworks were supplied by Reifers, who tallied three eagles on the back nine in a stretch of six holes. He is the fourth player this year to have three eagles in a round. The last one to get back-to-back eagles was Dustin Johnson in the Masters. Reifers posted a big number, and then whacked balls on the driving range to see if it was going to be enough.
Unfortunately it wasn’t, as Henry birdied the 18th to force the playoff.
“I think he (Reifers) was done by the time I made the turn, so put a lot pressure on the leaders knowing when somebody has already posted something,” Henry said. “And today, to be honest with you, the golf course played a little tougher. It was windier; the greens firmed up today for the first time all week. I didn’t get off to a real good start, to be honest with you, but I hung in there.”
Henry bogeyed three of his first four holes, but bounced back nicely with birdies on four of his last seven holes. He had a chance to win it outright with a birdie on 17, but missed a putt.
“I hit a great shot on 17 in regulation to about 10 feet,” he said. “I don’t know how the ball didn’t go in. It actually went all the way around the hole and stayed out.
“I’m saying to myself, ‘Gosh, what do I have to do to win a tournament again’? Again, I hit three great shots — or two great shots on 18 to at least force a playoff, and the rest is history to make that eagle to win it outright.”
Reifers was 9-under-par over the last 12 holes and scored 15 points with the three eagles. He also had four birdies and shot what amounted to a 63.
He drained a 13-footer on No. 7 for birdie and then drained an 8-footer on No. 8 to get to 30 points. After pars at Nos. 9 and 10, he knocked in a 17-footer birdie at 11 to get to 32 points. He remained at 32 after a par at 12, setting the stage for a great finish.
On the par-5 13th, he hit it 223 yards to the green and drained a 12-footer for the first of three eagles. At the par-4 14th, he holed out from 89 yards for eagle, and after three straight pars, capped his sensational round with a 12-foot eagle putt.
Reifers said he didn’t look at the scoreboard all day.
“Oh, I’m just disappointed.,” Reifers said. “You know, I performed the way I wanted to. I can’t hang my hat on that. That last putt there (on the second playoff hole), that was a little disappointing, but all in all I take a lot of positives out of this, and see if I can get back in this position again soon.
“I know obviously how much a win would mean so it’s disappointing, but like I said, I hit the shots and the putts that I wanted to. At the beginning of the day if you would have said I would be sitting here right now I would’ve obviously taken it.”
On 18, Reifers was unintentionally iced by the group ahead.
“Well, (I) think the guys ahead of us were having some problems, and looked like the fairway was clear, but they kind of backed me off while I was over it so kind of started over on my routine and waited another five minutes and stepped up and hit a really good shot.
“We had to do the same thing yesterday with — I think a guy broke his hand (Andres Romero), so it kind of threw a kink in everything yesterday. I knew what to expect and stepped up and hit a good shot. On 18, I hit a really good drive and a good 7-iron and I hit a really good putt. So it was nice under pressure and everything.”
Rodgers eagled No. 18, but it wasn’t going to be enough to catch Reifers.
“Yeah, it was nice to finish like that.,” Rodgers said. “I knew I was probably going to need to make eagle on 18 after seeing Reifers post that 47. I assumed he made eagle here, too.
“I thought today was my day, to be honest. I played really well; hit a lot of good putts. Felt like I really played well and I can definitely build on it.”
David Toms moved up to No. 140 on the FedEx points list. He has the PGA and the Wyndham Championship to move up 15 spots to make the postseason playoffs. He had a rough Sunday, managing just two points. He was looking for his first tournament win since 2013.