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July 11, 2014

Zach Johnson


MARK STEVENS:  We'd like to welcome Zach Johnson, Zach got it to 12‑under today after the second round of the John Deere Classic.  Talk about your round today and then we'll have a few questions.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, it was, once again, a pretty solid day.  Aside from maybe one miss‑‑ poor miss, pretty solid.  I didn't do anything too flashy.  My short game was decent.  My putting was great.  Even the ones I missed were great.
A lot of positives all around.  You know, I mean, I hate to be a tape recorder here, but I'm just really comfortable here.  Any wind for the most part I'm comfortable and any conditions.  I mean, the greens were receptive, so if you had the right yardage with the right club, there's some aggressive shots you can have out there.  All in all, once again, a day that I felt like I left some out there, but I felt like I stole a couple, too.

Q.  You've had a real interesting relationship with No.18.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yes, I have.  I haven't really thought about it.  It's a hard hole.  Bottom line, it's a hard hole.  I hit a good tee shot today and hit a really poor second shot, but I should have backed off it.  Just a little awkward.
It's a good hole.  I mean, you obviously don't want to miss it left, and I play a little bit of a draw, so I mean, I don't want to make excuses.  I hit an 8‑iron 45 feet right of the hole.  It wasn't a very solid shot.  Probably got what I deserved.  Hit a good putt.  I thought I made it.
But throughout the years I've made birdies there and I've made others.  It's a good hole.

Q.  You hit a hybrid on 10.  It looked like the ball was sitting down and you were kind of debating what club to use.  Did you kind of pop it?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, probably three or four options there.  I kind of just went through the process of trying to figure out which one was going to leave me the best opportunity to make a 5.  Obviously you're not expecting to do that.
But it's a shot I practice a fair amount as of late.  The club that I use‑‑ U.S. Open, Pinehurst, up and down those greens, so you kind of get the feel for it.  But it's one of those where I feel like if I use any sort of wedge, a normal chip shot, you can flub it pretty easily just because of the grass behind it and in front of me, and a putter, it was kind of one of those options where probably not quite enough loft, and the 3‑iron I have is one where you just get the top spin going early and very little effort involved.  I felt like worst shot there with that club was five feet.

Q.  How much do you know about William McGirt and have you ever played with him?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I don't know if we've ever played, but it seems like he's been out here for three to five years probably.  You see his name up on the board seems like occasionally at least, and obviously a very solid player, great guy.  I know him well enough that he's a great guy, good family.  He's got a child.  He's a good ol' I want to say Georgia boy if I'm not mistaken.
MARK STEVENS:  South Carolina.
ZACH JOHNSON:  South Carolina, that's right.  It's all the same to me.  (Laughter.)
But a great guy.  I mean, everybody is good out here, so I don't need to explain how good he is.

Q.  You were even par through seven holes, just one birdie, one bogey, were kind of patient and then you kind of let things come and didn't force the issue‑‑
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, that's really what it was.  I actually hit a good shot on 7, misjudged‑‑ I think I got a gust.  It was really windy.  4, 5, 6, 7, and I'd say even through like the 10th hole, the wind was pretty steady and firm, but then occasionally a gust from a different direction.  Just, yeah, trying to remain patient, trying to provide myself opportunities.  Hit two good shots on 8 and made a putt.  I hit a really good putt on 9, and just seemed like the putter really started‑‑ I hit a lot of good putts out there that I didn't make today, pars and birdies.
I knew if I just put myself in a place to make a putt that I had a chance.  Pretty conservative on a couple approach shots, but you know, like I said, early on, my first 10, 11 holes, that wind was hard to manage and hard to judge at times, and I think the conservative side of me kind of came out, which is fine.  I hit a terrible shot on 3.  I flubbed it.  That was really only the bad, bad shot I hit.  I kept the golf course in front of me for the most part the whole day.

Q.  This tournament came early in a strong stretch of play for you last year.  Do you see this as at all rejuvenating?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, I hope you're forecasting the proper thing here.  Yeah, I mean, I don't know, maybe.  I come in here expecting a fun week.  I come in here expecting myself to feel comfortable on this golf course.  I don't expect myself to come here‑‑ I don't have any expectation of coming here and playing great.  I did at one time and not anymore.  I just come here, I'm going to go play.  I love these greens.  Just going to go play.
The attitude, that mindset is pretty simple, but it just seems to work.  Bottom line is, though, we're talking about two days, so I've got two more days of golf.  Just want to keep remaining patient, keep hitting solid shots.  Hit a lot of really good drives today, and I think good things can happen.

Q.  Can you pinpoint when you started feeling comfortable at this tournament when all the other distractions, media attention, etcetera, kind of‑‑
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, yeah, early in the week I kind of alluded to that.  I think I've just grasped and embraced the fact that I'm going to have a lot of faces of friends I know outside the ropes, and it's terrific.  The bottom line is they don't care if I shoot 62 or 82.  They're still going to be on my side.  Trying to play for them might have been part of the issue years ago but not anymore.  If anything I want to embrace it, and two, I just really appreciate the support.
My scorecard is irrelevant.  Seems like my scorecard is pretty irrelevant to them, and I kind of like that.  It's just one of those weeks where I can have fun with my family, and if I play some good golf, so be it.  Does that answer your question?

Q.  Not really.  When did you‑‑
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, well, I mean, I've had, what, four top 5s in a row here?

Q.  Four out of five.
ZACH JOHNSON:  That's when it happened.

Q.  In 2009 you didn't care because it was the Friday rainout, and you actually finished on the front‑‑
ZACH JOHNSON:  On the front?

Q.  Did that actually make a difference?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I mean, I remember it but I don't remember it.  Did we play 36 holes?

Q.  Yeah.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Did we really?  I kind of remember that.  Did what matter?

Q.  Well, I'm just wondering if the fact that it wasn't really a normal Sunday kind of feeling, did that ease you into the comfort here?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, I don't think so.  I mean, we're used to that.  I finished on 9 numerous times and re‑paired and not re‑paired numerous times.  We did it this year just recently, Memphis.  That was a month ago, I guess.  So no, I don't think that had anything to do with it.  I don't know if I can pinpoint anything.  I've been here 13 years in a row.  I should know the golf course.  I mean, that's part of it.

Q.  Do you think maybe winning the Masters had something to do with it?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Expectations you mean?  Yeah, I think so.  My '08 was slow, and I'm assuming I didn't play that well here in '08.  I don't have any idea.  I have no idea.  But I remember I had like two, maybe three top 10s going into the Fall Series in '08 and needed to reevaluate and analyze some things, and I got back on track, and obviously '09 was a great‑‑ essentially '09 through 2014 have been pretty good years so far.

Q.  When you putted well early in the tournament, is that something that gives you confidence that you keep throughout the whole tournament?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Ideally.  I've got a system that I think is pretty simple.  Always looking to simplify it even more, if possible, but the bottom line is ball‑striking, putting, short game, something can get off, and it will get off.  I've been a pro now for so many odd years, I know at some point something is going to get off a little bit.  But the systems that are simple enough where you can kind of rebound and get back to it are the ones that seem to work out the best, and I feel like I've got that with my putter, both fundamentally and I'd say even mentally, too.
Bottom line is I'm not reinventing the wheel with my putter.  I've been using that putter since '08, '09, whatever it was, and so I don't‑‑ I feel like when I'm putting my best, I can putt with anybody, and I feel like it's one of my better aspects of my game.  I know when it gets off, I can get back on, so there's no reason to really change much.  I mean, I'll take care with certain drills, maybe even potentially some certain fundamental things to keep me on line, but I haven't strayed away from what I'm trying to do.

Q.  When Stricker was in here earlier there was a fun chatter, and the question came up, I wonder if you could settle the debate.  Who's the man here?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, bottom line is we come here to win.  I don't think it's a debate.

Q.  Are you the man or‑‑
ZACH JOHNSON:  I've won once.  He's won three times.  I don't think it's a debate.  How many times has he teed it up here?

Q.  You guys have had a shootout here the last five years.  Talk about that.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, I mean, we didn't win last year, neither one of us, so you've got to throw that in the mix, too.  He won three in a row?

Q.  Nine top 5s out of the last five years.
ZACH JOHNSON:  When it comes down to it, 25 years from now, nobody is going to remember who finished second, third or fourth, so I don't think this is even in the discussion.  I mean, we're both from this area, more or less.  We both enjoy bentgrass greens, and these kind of courses are kind of what we grew up on.  Other than that, I mean, I think we're both pretty decent, too.  I don't know if you can really identify one or two things.  I mean, I think there's a number of things that kind of play into it.
In this game, confidence is big, so you get one or two good starts here, one or two good finishes, you get positive vibes and it seems to domino.

Q.  You guys play off of each other, though.  There's got to be a little bit of rivalry there?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I mean, I don't think so.  You'll have to ask him.  I don't have any idea what he feels.  I don't, no.  If anything I feel like you've got arguably one of the best players in the world in the field, but as you guys know, anybody can win that tees it up here.  No, I don't even know‑‑ I played with him last year on Thursday and Friday, so you know, what he shoots is for the most part irrelevant.  I hope he plays well, obviously.

Q.  Does it feel any different out there without Damon, and what was the reason‑‑ what made you pick Lance?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, it definitely feels different.  I mean, I've got‑‑ he's an integral part of my team and he's not with me this week.
Now, that being said, Lance is a guy that he's been caddying for one of the best players to play the game in the last four, five, six years.  Typically Kuch is‑‑ I don't know what he is, top 5 to top 15 in the world every week, so it's not like this is‑‑ he's adapted to me a little bit.  Our games are similar, though, so it's not like it's been that hard of adaptation.  He's a great caddie.  I mean, he's caddied on the LPGA Tour, he's caddied on the PGA TOUR, and picking him was one of those things, I wanted someone I kind of knew, you know, something a little fresh but yet someone I knew, and he's obviously a good friend and got a lot in common, and bottom line is Matt and I are good buddies.  I've played a lot of golf with Matt.  I kind of know Lance and how he goes about it, and I felt‑‑ you'd have to ask him, but he's probably had to get more used to me than I've had to get used to him.  He's made it really easy for me.  We're trying to play that really simple, boring golf, and that's kind of what Matt plays.  Providing ourselves opportunities and remaining patient through two days has been the key.

Q.  Assuming your comfort level, your confidence level, playing so well these two days, your track record here in the past, do you take a different approach or a feel into the weekends here at all, and does that‑‑
ZACH JOHNSON:  No.  I mean, not at all.  My focus tonight will be having a good warmup tomorrow, having good rhythm and good tempo tomorrow, both on the green and on the range, and the bottom line is if I get off or get too ahead of myself or start thinking about Sunday or late on Sunday, I mean, you know, I would say for the most part bad things can happen or very average things can happen.  If I keep doing what I'm doing and keeping the golf course in front of me and just remaining patient, I feel like I can contend again.

Q.  So you just try to make it just like another‑‑
ZACH JOHNSON:  It is like any other tournament.  The moment I feel like any sort of outcome oriented thoughts enter my mind, that's the moment where I've got a lot less chance of doing anything positive.

Q.  The eagle putt on 17, is that the one shot you'd kind of like to have back and do over?  Are there any other shots out there you thought you let go?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Oh, my gosh, no.  I mean, I had it 50 feet and tapped it in.  That's not one I'd like to have back.  I'd like to have my second shot over on 18, obviously my tee shot on 15, and my tee shot on 3.  I mean, I chunked a wedge on 3 and I hit a really good tee shot on 15.  I mean, I hit it right in the screws.  I just didn't‑‑ just a little too far right.  I say that, you could even say my putt on 15 or my putt on 18.  But three tee shots where I made three bogeys.

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