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January 7, 2015

Zach Johnson


THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Zach Johnson into the interview room, our defending champion here at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.  Zach, welcome back to Kapalua.  If we could get some comments from you.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Sure.  Well, here comes the broken record, but it's great to be back in Maui.  This is a pretty special place to start, and it's one that certainly me and my family relish because it's not easy getting back here.
We love coming back.  I think my boys, granted, they're young, so they kind of expect it.  That's a problem.  And my eight‑year‑old has celebrated six birthdays here in Maui.  That's also a problem, but a good problem.  So I'm excited.  I mean I love coming back here.  I used to think this golf course wasn't in my favor, but the more and more I play it, the better I feel like it is suited to me, depending on wind situation and that kind of thing.
But I've grown to at least enjoy it, for sure.
THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  We'll go right into questions.

Q.  When you first got here for the first time you thought what?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, I guess there was an intimidation factor there just because of the length of it.  You know, score card length, and you get a few winds out here where the course does play long.  You know, you get the trades, it doesn't feel like it plays that long.  But I was intimidated, not necessarily just because of the yardage, though.  Because of the greens.  They're just so hard to putt.  I mean they're big; they're undulating.  A flat putt is pretty slow.  The ones down grain are super fast.  The ones in the grain are obviously super slow.
So the greens are still intimidating.  What I've grown to know is you're going to hit good putts and they're just not going to go in, because there's so much break.  So once I embraced that fact, I think things have kind of settled down a little bit mentally.  It's just hard.  Everybody is going to hit it‑‑ you're going to hit a lot of fairways, you're going to hit a lot of greens and you're going to miss a lot of putts.

Q.  (Indiscernible).
ZACH JOHNSON:  You mean 10 years ago?  I have no idea.  I have no idea.  Shot 83.  Sorry.  I don't know.

Q.  Is there a golf course that you guys play during the year where you will have the opportunity to have as many three‑putts as you do here this week?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I would say Augusta would be the first on my list.  Apparently that's not a regular TOUR event.  But as far as three‑putting, yeah, I guess it would be up there.  I mean I remember, I don't know how many times I three‑putted last year here, but it was probably three to five.  I remember the year I won the masters, I three‑putted six times, three times on one hole.  So granted, they're totally different greens, obviously speeds‑‑ speed is the element in both, but totally different speeds.
Greens here, I would say the greens here are probably bigger, square footage wise, but I don't know.  I'd have to‑‑ I just think am some of the greens here are 50 deep, 60 deep sometimes.  You feel like oh, yeah, I hit a green in regulation, well, 75 feet, up a tier, down a tier, into the grain, down grain.  So it's just hard.  So Augusta is the one that comes to my mind as far as three‑putts and that kind of thing.
You know, I mean for me, I mean I've had some mildly somewhat decent success.  I think the Opens are hard because they're so slow.  There's a simulator there.  Totally different green.  Usually pretty flat over there.  There's tiers, but they're flat‑‑ or excuse me.  They're slow and hard to putt because we're not used to that speed.  Now, Muirfield is obviously totally different.  Those would be the two that stick out to me.

Q.  2015 give me the three tournaments you're most looking forward to playing and why.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Trying to think of the schedule.  Majors.  No, no and no.  (Laughs).  I don't even know where the Open is.  The British.  No, no.  That's my least favorite in the rotation.  Yeah.  I say that and I love that tournament and I still like St. Andrews.  That's how much I love that tournament.  I think St. Andrews is terrific and it's my least favorite.

Q.  (Indiscernible).
ZACH JOHNSON:  (Laughs).  Well, his right‑hand man is now my right‑hand man.  So maybe it's rubbing off.  I feel like it's one where you just gotta hit it left and you gotta hit it 290 in the air and it just doesn't favor me.  I say that and I'm telling you right now it's my favorite tournament to play in and I like St. Andrews.  It's just not my favorite of the other ones I've played.
They're all so good.  I mean Muirfield is phenomenal.  My first was Troon and I thought that was terrific.  Turnberry is great.  Lytham is tremendous.  Carnoustie is brutally hard, but it's great.  That's my rationale there.

Q.  Whistling Straits?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I don't like Whistling Straits.  I lost by a shot there and I don't like it.  I mean I played for four days the best four days of ball striking I've ever had consecutively, whatever year that was.  Played there in '05.  Played all right.  Didn't really like it, and I still don't like it.
To me it's‑‑ I say that.  You gotta hit it good, you gotta putt it good obviously.  I think it separates the field in that regard.  To me it wants to be a links, but it's the furthest thing from it because it's all aerial.  There's no runups.  You gotta carry it here to carry it there, that kind of thing.  Is it beautiful?  Stunning.  You feel like you're playing on the ocean.  It's just contrived.  That's why I don't like it.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No.  I haven't seen it yet.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I know.  I'm going back to it.  What three tournaments am I looking forward to the most.  Sony is always in there just because, well, I like the golf course for me.  I love the tournament for my family and what we do and where we stay and that kind of thing.  That's a big, big, big week.  This week isn't too shabby either, but as far as the whole week goes, that's way up there.
TPC is always way, way up there.  That golf course just fits me.  It suits me.  I've had decent weeks there.  I've had weeks when I go in like oh, man, I'm playing good, here we go and then I miss the cut, and I've had weeks where I'm like, I've gotta tighten things up because this course is hard you've gotta hit it straight and I've had no confidence and I've played well.  So I love what that place demands.
You know, I mean I gotta throw in‑‑ well, I mean obviously look forward to Augusta.  I don't know if it's in my top 3 just because it's so hard.  I mean John Deere because of what I do there, that's fun.  It's fun being in contention.  I'm not suggesting I'm going to be in contention this next year, but I say that every year and every year I somehow kind of get in that discussion.  So that would be in there.  I do enjoy sleeping in my own bed at McGladrey.  Whether I make or miss the cut, that's always fun.  Akron is way up there for me.

Q.  (Indiscernible).

Q.  Why do you like Akron?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I think it's‑‑ I mean there's a few tee shots there that are unsettling to me, 4, 9.  I guess you could throw 16 in there.  But it's just‑‑ I think it's pure golf.  I mean it's‑‑ there's a piece of land and then there's holes.  If you need a flash emergency major, I mean that thing could be ready in three days.  That's my opinion.

Q.  Zach, Geoff Ogilvy paid you a great compliment yesterday the gist of it being the first time a guy plays with you your game might not stand out.  But you've become a prolific winner out here.  What's the extra intangible do you think that kind of puts you across the line?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I don't know.  That's certainly something I think about occasionally and something my team and I may chew on a little bit here and there.  The first thing that comes in my mind is I'm never content, whether I'm playing great or playing average or bad.  I don't want to get into the mind frame of just trying to maintain things.  I'm always trying to I'd say polish and fine tune things would be the way I mentally I approach it each day, each week.
I mean those are kind of‑‑ I guess those would be more tangibles.  That and just the fact that I just love to compete.  I mean I really‑‑ I'm not saying these guys don't because they're all champions, great players, but when I get into I guess you'd say into a mode of where I'm in control of my game and you get into the weekend and you get into Sunday and there's obviously a chance to win, I just‑‑ I relish it, I savor it.  I mean if anything I don't‑‑ I mean I want it.  Granted, that's why I work.  But I gotta calm myself down sometimes because I'm so excited to be in that position, because I know it's hard to get in that position, one, and two, you don't know when the next one is going to come about.  So I really like‑‑ I really like having the ball.  You know, I'm going to shoot it.  I may not make it.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I don't know.  I can't answer that either.  You'd have to ask my parents.  Every sport I played I just‑‑ you know, I wanted to win and I wanted to play.  I mean I was the guy that, you know, at school, okay, ring the bell and that kind of thing, I want to get out, go to soccer practice, go to basketball practice, whatever it was and just go.  I wanted to be out there and compete.
I like turning on the TV and watching, you know, basketball or football and if I don't have a dog in the fight, I like seeing the team that's behind at the end, you know, or the team that's not supposed to win win.  I like the guys, the individuals, the teams that where their backs are up against the wall, and you know, they push through.  I mean the stories are obviously plenty, but you know‑‑ I'm trying to think of some examples.  Butler, I don't know.  I don't know who else you'd say.  But those kind of stories.

Q.  Every other year you guys play a different team event, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup.  I'm wondering if there's ever a thought of you other Americans that, well, especially when these Ryder Cups don't go the way you want, well, we got a Presidents Cup coming up and we've done pretty well in those.  Is there a thought about looking forward to that because it washes away a little bit of the disappointment from some of these Ryder Cups?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I mean I can't speak on behalf of everybody else, but for me, no.  I mean I don't look at the Presidents Cup saying, okay, we got that, now that can kind of help clean the slate with the previous year.  I mean I'm still not over 2012 Ryder Cup.  I mean I gotta be honest with you.  It still kills me.
I can't lie.  That being said, that's not the way I see the Presidents Cup.  The way I see the Presidents Cup, man, this is a great opportunity and it's a great way to be on another team, and I love that.  I love having the individual aspect of golf in the team environment, and so the Presidents Cup is something that, once again, I'll relish to have that opportunity.
I don't look at it any more or any different than that, as an opportunity.

Q.  You don't equate one with the other in terms of accomplishments?

Q.  They're separate?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Right.  They're separate.  I wish we had a year off.  I wish it was, you know, Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, year off, year off.  But that's not the way it works.

Q.  (Indiscernible).
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah.  Sure.  We did, we met the Sunday, Monday of the Hero, before the Hero Championship Challenge, whatever it's called, Hero Championship.  It was pretty standard early on in the discussions.  Looked at a number of stats.  Actually had the ‑‑ what do you call it with the screen and the prompter.  Geez.  Projector.  Yes.  PowerPoint.  That's what I'm looking for.  PowerPoint.  This is first‑class stuff right here.  Actually, our statistician had surgery, so he had to do it via power point, Skype.  I do have a statistician.  I mean I say that, but he's got a number of guys.  Yeah.  A lot of teams, too.  A lot of college teams and academies.
So we hashed that out, went through a number of stats, looked at last year, looked at this year.  Looked at‑‑ we kind of have two or three, three or four goals each year statistically, but then within each goal there's kind of some objectives that kind of help you‑‑ that can help you accomplish those goals, and I can tell you I was 7 out of 12, so that's pretty good.  A couple, five that I missed, I just barely missed them and then a couple that I wasn't even close.  I'm going to get specific, my putting was very average, at best.  Actually, it was a drop from the previous year.  So that's going to be the main emphasis this year in formulating a plan that way with the putter.
So‑‑ when it was on, it was good.  It was just streaky.  And my ball striking, I know it doesn't wow anybody, but it was really good.  My driving actually was great.  My greens in regulation was terrific.  My wedges were, go figure, really good.  My putting was very poor.  So that'll be the emphasis this year.
You know, outside of that, outside of the goals and the stats, if you will, the discussion then goes into, you know, me physically, my schedule, how do we change this or add this or take out that or polish that or this.  Then it goes into, you know, my practice and motivation and that kind of thing.  I mean I don't want to sit here and say that I, you know, don't want to work, but the stage of life I'm in right now, I've got three kids that are at an age where I feel like I gotta be at home at lot.  You know, I just feel like I can't‑‑ I can't practice like I once did.  And so when I go practice, it's gotta be very focused, very time efficient, very effective.
So it's very scheduled, I mean to the day, the hour, that kind of thing.  I mean it has to be because I need to be at home as much as I can.  And I have time to do it.  I mean I'm not saying‑‑ I should treat it as a 9 to 5 when I'm at home and I do, but there's other things that need to fall into place too.  You gotta schedule rest, you gotta schedule workouts and tissue work and all that.  So scheduling was a big part of the discussion, and then like I said, motivation for me.
And I don't usually need motivation, but sometimes when I'm at home I feel guilty that I'm not at the golf course and when I'm at the golf course, I feel guilty I'm not at home.  So it's trying to kind of understand that sort of that would be a dichotomy of some sort, right.  That paradigm.  Because it's not easy.  There's a balance there.  And I think my wife and I have got a great formula, but I don't know if it's perfect, and we're always trying to make it better.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah.  She was not able to be there for a number of reasons, with the kids.  She usually is there at the meeting.  But it just didn't work out.  It was in Orlando and they were coming down the next weekend.  So she was there.  Damen was there.  My swing coach, Mike Bender; Mo Pickens, Dr. Mo was there, mental coach; Troy Van Biezen, my physio guy, was there.  Brad Buffoni, my manager, was there.  And then my financial advisor.  I know that kind of sounds weird, but he was there, too.  His name is Zack Fulmer.  He's with a company technically out of Atlanta, but he lives in Orlando called Ronald Blue.  I've been with him for 10, 11 years.  He was there, too, because he's very much in on off the golf course, what we're trying to do and how we try to do it.  He's great counsel for my wife and I.

Q.  Statistician?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Sorry.  Statistician.  Peter Sanders.

Q.  And where is he out of?
ZACH JOHNSON:  He's out of Virginia.  No.  He's out of‑‑ no, he's not.  He's out of Connecticut.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Every day, every tournament round.  Yeah.  So he's got‑‑ what he's done is he's got access to the stats, obviously, ShotLink, all that kind of stuff, and he picks apart‑‑ and he knows they're not perfect, because they're not.  I mean I can look at it sometimes and it says I've got a 4‑footer when I've got a tap‑in or something like that.  He knows it's not perfect.  But he takes all the numbers, plugs in his own formulas, for lack of a better example, and then it spits out information.  And then from there we can ask him to look at this, look at that, look at that and then formulate a plan.  He's been using the Strokes Gained Stat since 1992, 1991, something like that.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
ZACH JOHNSON:  He manufactured it himself.

Q.  Just kind of follow up.  (Indiscernible).
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, I don't know.  I can't speak on behalf of everyone else, but for me, what I've learned and what I've known is I need help.  I mean I just need help in all aspects, I mean whether it's technical help, accountability or just motivational help, I mean I need it.  So I was reluctant to add Dr. Mo back in 2006, but I wanted to give it a shot and just kind of see.  I mean at that point I'd won once.  I was on the brink of being on my first Ryder Cup team, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  And then since that point it's been pretty good.  So that was one thing.
I was‑‑ the mini tours I was reluctant to really work out a lot thinking, man, it's going to change my body, I'm going to be a mess.  Well, couldn't be further from the truth.  I need it.  After my rookie year, I didn't do much.  I did stretching occasionally and some tissue work, but I didn't do much of anything and I was beat up at the end of the year.  So that was a good example right there where I needed to get that kind of thing taken care of.
And I just feel like, you know what, this is my business and I know I'm kind of the head of it or my wife and I are the head of it; right?  We need to have I guess you'd say a bunch of guys, bunch of people that we trust and that trust us so that we can attack this as such, because they're invested in it and I'm invested in it.  And I'd say the motivation and the goals are the same.
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else?  All right, Zach Johnson, thank you, sir.

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