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January 31, 2015

Zach Johnson


THE MODERATOR: Zach Johnson, thanks for joining us. 4-under 67, round 3 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. First start here since 2010. You haven't forgotten too much about the place. Just a few comments about today.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it's been, like you said, it's been five years. I heard there were some changes, and some of the guys were saying there's some rough. It's one of those situations I didn't know if it would be good for me, and, you know, I think it's a good golf course for me. Obviously three days in it's pretty clear that it's not a bad course for me. Given that, yeah, I mean, I had some good preparation this week, because I had a lot of time after last week missing the cut. You know, last week I felt good about my game. I just didn't -- I didn't feel well and didn't score. So this week I feel good. I mean, I'm not doing anything too erratic or even too flashy, but, you know, pretty solid overall. I guess you can always say you left something out there, and that's a typical golfer mentality. I feel good.

Q. What was sort of your clincher for coming here? Was it date on schedule? Course changes? What was it?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know if there was one. There was a number, the first being I'm definitely not playing the next three weeks, so four weeks off, I have done it, I have done it many times actually on the West Coast, but I didn't think that would be smart. Second, I did have my family the last three weeks, and I felt like -- you know, I don't want to be away from my family for more than a week, two weeks at the most. One more week out here is not a bad idea. You know, the main thing is I felt like my game was coming, and I wanted to kind of end the West Coast on at least a somewhat sweet note rather than bitter note. You know, even if I were to play poorly this week, I think it would have still been a good decision.

Q. It was kind of warm and dry the first day, wet and cold yesterday. What are the conditions like right now on the course?
ZACH JOHNSON: I mean, the ball is not rolling exactly that far, I mean, what you would expect here in the desert. But, you know, the greens are still receptive. I feel like it's out there. Some really good pin placements today. I thought they were tough. I don't know what anybody else was saying about it. Ones you just really had to pay attention where you're going to miss it. You know, it's not playing as short certainly as what it did on Thursday, but it's not nearly playing as long as what it did yesterday. I mean, I had my umbrella out for 15 holes yesterday. That was not pleasant. You know, I left Georgia on December 27th. I brought my rain gear and my umbrella, and I thought I'd maybe have to use it at Maui and Sony but not here. Go figure, the first two weeks were perfect.

Q. How much can change over those final four holes on a Sunday?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, a lot. I'd even say the last six holes personally. Another par-5 in there. Almost feels like you have three par-5s. 14 is long. Especially if it's a south wind like it has been into the wind. For me it's a hole I've got to get the ball into the fairway. I think I'm 2-under on it, which I have no idea how that's possible. But, yeah, the last three or four, four or five holes in particular, a lot can happen. It kind of reminds -- totally different golf courses, but it kind of reminds me of Hartford where you have a reachable par-5, got a good par-3, you've got some holes you feel you need to birdie and a drivable par-4. Kind of has that sort of feel to it, and it just feels, like you said, it's certainly -- the tournament is not over until you get to that stretch, you know.

Q. Did you happen to hear the roar out there, Molinari on 16?

Q. Where were you and could you tell us about that?
ZACH JOHNSON: We were on 4 tee and heard the crescendo, too. Is that the right word? Yeah. We all looked at each other and went, yep, there's one. It was pretty obvious. My assumption is there are more people there now than there was then.

Q. If that's possible.
ZACH JOHNSON: If that's possible.

Q. Do you like that hole? Did you ever do anything...
ZACH JOHNSON: The hole itself, I mean, it's not that long of a hole. You really gotta pay attention to your compass there, because you're in a stadium, essentially. The wind is -- you've just got to pay attention. You may not feel exactly what the compass is saying. It's easier into the wind I think with the wind just to recognize the wind, because the downwind you're not going to feel it. You don't feel it because of the stands behind you. I think it's a great hole. It is a tabletop green. I mean, you really have to hit it essentially in the middle of the green, depending upon basically the middle of the green and play that route. Now, as far as the peripherals, you know what? I really -- I don't mind it at all. If anything, it's kind of like white noise. The holes that are most difficult are the ones where you have a bunch over there, bunch over there, kind of sporadic, and there is noise that it's not consistent and constant. There, it's just noise. If anything, I don't want to say it's easier because it's not. But it's -- you know, it is what it is. If you don't like it, I mean, I have said it before, it's not my favorite hole, but if you don't like it, just don't play.

Q. Did you ever used to bring toys to hand out to the crowd?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think I have in the past. Maybe some little things here and there, yeah. I passed out some sunglasses this week.

Q. Do you think the changes were significant this year?
ZACH JOHNSON: To the golf course?

Q. Yeah. How do you think it affected the scores?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I'm still trying to process that. It's longer as a whole. The whole entire course is longer. I don't know what the scorecard says, but it's got to be 100 to 200 yards longer. First hole isn't much different aside from the bunker on the left. Yeah, 2 is a hole where I questioned driver and now I'm hitting driver essentially every time. You know, when it comes to big hitter courses, I don't know if this one falls into it necessarily, because we have seen some modest hitters win and seen some bombers win. If there is rough, I like the golf course. If the 4- to 10-footers mean a lot, I like the golf course. This is one of those that -- because the greens are so firm, your pick shots, it's harder to control. It's harder to use spin, harder to kind of get associated if the ball is going to check or not. So you have a lot of those 4- to 10-footers, and I like that.

Q. What was your highlight shot of the day?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I mean, granted, I'm always a creature of habit -- or excuse me, creature of just being in the present. I hit a terrible second shot from the middle of the fairway on 18. I'm trying to get it within 10 feet. I'm in between a 9-iron and wedge, and I hit it in the bunker. I hit a great sand shot to two feet. That's the one that kept my scorecard at 10-under. Probably isn't the one people will look at. I hit some good shots, made a long putt, made a chip, those types of things. But that's the one for momentum going into tomorrow. I think that was big.
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