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April 12, 2015

Zach Johnson


Q.  Well played today.

Q.  Talk about when you won the Tournament here in 2007, it was plus 1.  Here you had your best scoring tournament ever.  How do you feel about that, you don't get a Green Jacket, but what do you get out of it?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I get out of it that I ‑‑ I mean I don't know if the conditions matter as much as I once probably thought.  I think I can play it when it's wind chill of 45 to 50 and I can play it when it's 75 to 85.
I'm going to take that ‑‑ I mean, I'm probably ‑‑ with this heat, I'm certainly, this is the furthest I've hit the ball on this golf course.  I have gotten maybe a pinch longer which has helped off the tee.
The other thing is, I made the turn on Friday 4‑over par for the tournament.  Going into my last nine holes.  And you know the old cliches, you don't give up, you don't quit, and lo and behold I'm going to come pretty close to getting a top‑10.  Maybe Top‑12 for sure.  But, I had a lot of opportunities and that's all you can create out here is opportunities.

Q.  You know how difficult it is to win this tournament.  There's a 21 year old out there who is almost dancing with Masters history.  Can you put that into some sort of context?
ZACH JOHNSON:  There's something innate, obviously, with him and those type of individuals, something intangible that probably a lot of athletes occasionally touch, but rarely maintain.
Obviously Tiger would be the epitome of that.  My guess is Jack was like that back in the day.  There may be a handful here or there that have touched it.  But I think that at his age, at 21, and what he's doing right now, you know, I mean granted it is one week.  At the same time, he's been in the last group on the PGA TOUR whatever it's been, two or three weeks in a row.
So, it's just impressive.  Obviously, you could put him in that classification of phenom, right?  But given that, I don't think you want to ordain him anything yet.  I don't think it's fair to him, I don't think it's fair to the individuals that once were in that position.
So, if somebody were to put him in that position or label him a phenom, I mean he doesn't need that on his shoulders.  I don't think he'll get caught up in that.  I know his team and I know who he surrounds himself around and I can't pinpoint the intangibles, like I said, but I think he's going to be fine for a long time.

Q.  So in this quest to find the next great young American player, could this guy be it?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I think that's an embellishment, because I think there's a lot.  I don't think it's just him.  I mean, there's four or five guys that ‑‑ well you guys may know because you follow it, but that I'm aware of that are kind of getting ready for the PGA TOUR or just starting, and it's just a matter of time.
I think American golf is outstanding.  Bottom line is, there was probably a jump after Jack in American golf, there was a jump maybe after Watson even, but then when Tiger came along there was a substantial leap.  And now we have athletes playing the game.
We have guys that are just supreme athletes.  There's only so many Dustin Johnson's.  Zach Johnson's, of course, too, but you catch my drift.  That's a big roar back there.  That could be an eagle.

Q.  What got you to the place this week where you could shoot 8‑under for a tournament.  Why did you shoot 8‑under?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I would say my practice rounds and my preparation at home, I really felt like my ball striking was just a matter of being really simple with it, because it's been very consistent.  I'm driving the ball pretty straight, for the most part I'm hitting my irons crisp.
So, really it just came down to short game and my preparation, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I thought was terrific.  It just didn't quite show Thursday and Friday.  Well excuse me, it did on the back nine on Friday but my first 27 holes it was just very, very average at best.
My key word my team and I have gone to, which is wait.  Just wait for it.  Because it's going to come.  And it may not have been this week.  And quite honestly, I know what I shot, but I'm not ‑‑ I think that there's more in there.  I just got to keep waiting for it.  Because patience and perseverance is really what's going to take me further.

Q.  Talk about the eagle that you had.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, I've never gotten home on that hole.  Practice round I hit it in the middle of the green and Thursday I hit it over the green in two.
I had a number, I had 250 front and I hit my 3‑wood 245 if I hit it good.  Hammer it.  But it's playing 260 uphill.  I don't know where it landed.  I hammered it.  But the wind, everything was just in my favor there.
And I get nothing, I'm looking at Jonas's ball short of the green and I'm thinking, where's my ball, I'm thinking it was past and right, which I'm not so sure I could have got that up‑and‑down.  That would have been a hard up‑and‑down.  And then I see it 25 feet on the green.
So, I'll take it.  I can't really describe it.  I made a putt.  That was a putt that I'm just trying to get to a three foot radius.

Q.  Considering what I would say are the struggles you've had this year where you haven't gotten where you haven't gotten anything out of it, coming out of this week, playing as well as you did, how much does that catapult you into the rest of the season?
ZACH JOHNSON:  It's big.  At the same time, I just knew it was coming.  If you would have asked me in San Antonio, even though I absolutely tanked it, I mean I was in second place with 13 holes to go.  And I just had, I putted poorly that week and/or that day, I didn't putt poorly that week, but that day.  I did some really good work with Titleist on trying to get my bag situated.  They really persuaded me and influenced me to change drivers.  And I'm fortunate that they did that, because if I have a driver that I feel like I can get in the fairway and I can work both ways, then I mean, regardless of the length of the course I still feel like I'm competitive.

Q.  Did you change to the new driver?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, I went back to the old one.

Q.  Same shaft, obviously?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah.  Same shaft as the one I had.  Same shaft.  But the new ones I can still compete with, but it's just this one was, according to them and I'm not much of a number guy, I just don't think it's ‑‑ I mean I take the very, very basics and I get on the golf course.  But I saw it on the golf course practicing.  So I brought it down to Bay Hill and we did some good work.  Me, Tuten, Pitts and those guys and it's like, this is not even a question, this is the driver you have to play.
So I'm, it's nice knowing I have that support and those guys just wanting me to play well.  That was a huge confidence boost.  Bay Hill, I played really good.  The driver started to come.
San Antonio I was No. 1 in ball striking.  I think I led tee to green, strokes gained and ball striking.  1 or 2 in both.  And I was second to last in putting.  But you know.

Q.  The way you finished, with that putt, it was kind of symbolic of the last couple days, the last, you know, your week here, don't you think?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah.  It was a grind.  Yeah.  I totally misjudged the wind on the second shot.  That's still is very frustrating.  I did that yesterday and today.  Just ‑‑ it's so frustrating.

Q.  Was that plugged?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, it wasn't plugged, but there's no sand.  I went to a 54 degree wedge to try to hit it up the bank and obviously it rolled back down and it was the right shot, but I'm digging my feet in and I got sand on my feet but no sand on the ball.  It was almost if I hit the base layer of mesh underneath the sand trap.  But that's, it's a hazard.  You're not supposed to be perfect.

Q.  But the putting was good?
ZACH JOHNSON:  It was tremendous.  Today was probably ‑‑ I'm trying to think.  Today was tremendous.  I putted really, really good.  It started on 1, obviously a really good putt there, a good putt.
And 2.
A good 2‑putt on 3.
5 was awesome.
6 as was awesome.
7 was okay.
Make a bomb on 8.
I thought I made it on 9.
Good save on 10.
Really good putt on 11 for birdie.
12, same thing.
13, I obviously put myself in a predicament there and made a good par.  My second putt I made there was about, in front of my ball there was a spike mark.  And I thought I was going to hit this and it kicked it right and left it on the left edge.  So a nice little treat there because that spike mark was like a tree.

Q.  Did you ever have any doubts that you would have your name on the big board on a Sunday here again?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, I mean I knew it was a matter of time.  I'm comfortable with these greens, I'm comfortable with my reads.  It's one thing to see it, it's one thing to understand the speed and understand where the grain takes it and where everything goes, but it's another to execute it.  And this week the last, oh, let me think, 45 holes, it was really, really good.
Confidence was there, reads were there, and I was starting it on line.  Even the ones I missed were on line.  I think the best putters out here really hit really good putts that don't go in.  Fortunately, I was able it make some.

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