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July 16, 2015

Zach Johnson


ZACH JOHNSON: It was just about capitalising when you had opportunities. I mean, I putted great. I don't really know what else to say as far as my lag putts were good. I putted good when I had some makeable ones. There's something to be said about hitting solid putts on these types of surfaces.

Q. Seems like the conditions have gotten harder as the day has gone on?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely. The inward half of the golf course, the wind switched probably when I was probably on 6 or 7 is kind of when I was feeling it. It was definitely right to left on 1 and 2 for me, and by the time I got to 6 and 7 it was essentially at my back. Therefore 12 in is basically -- it's almost straight in, maybe 11:00. I guess 16 might have been closer to 10 o'clock, but for the most part it was a straight-in wind, or in off the left, and I think the velocity probably went up a little bit, too, which made it very difficult. I did not hit a good drive on 17. Obviously I missed it on the proper side, but I smashed a 3-wood there, and it rolled up the bank and came back down. I'm hitting 7-irons in there in the practice round. It's substantially harder.

Q. Did it surprise you how many birdies there were no birdies there today?
ZACH JOHNSON: I saw some in the group behind me. I think they all made 4.

Q. Given your record here specifically at the Old Course, do you feel like this is a golf course you should play well?
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, it's one of those -- I guess my second Open was here; is that right? '05. I missed my first three cuts in The Open, and since then I've played pretty good. It's a championship I think the more and more I play it, the more and more I realise what it requires and demands out of me. This golf course in particular, you know, I didn't really know what to expect in '05. I think I was kind of learning. It was kind of an anomaly. I cracked my driver face right before I teed off on Thursday, so I didn't have a driver that week. I still managed to make the cut, but I wasn't on the proper side of the wind wave if that makes sense. Signing my scorecard, I walked out and they basically put a freeze on the guys out there. I probably got lucky on that side. I think there was a time when I thought you had to kill it. You had to hit it 290 in the air and hit it left essentially every hole. Granted, that still holds true to a degree. But you don't. I mean, I got a lot of loft in my hands, especially on the holes that have some sort of help. My first 11 holes, you know, I mean, I didn't hit much more than an 8-iron, I don't think. Well, I guess 8 is a par-3 into the wind and I hit a punch 6. But other than that, I was hitting a lot of loft. Par-5, I'm hitting 5-iron up there, and that's kind of fun for Zach Johnson.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ZACH JOHNSON: This is my favourite tournament consistently year in, year out, and if I'm going to rank the venues I'm not going to put this one No. 1. It's not that I don't like it. It's just the ones ahead of it I phenomenally love. I like it. I like it a lot. Like Muirfield, Turnberry, Birkdale, Lytham, those stand out to me. I guess you could even say Carnoustie to a degree. Gosh, they're all so good. But I just love -- like I say, I just love this kind of golf. If we played this every week, then I'd love Hartford. It would be the best place I've ever seen. I like Hartford, but I think you catch my drift. We don't have true links over there, so this is awesome.

Q. How have you grown to be able to do well because you said early on it was tough for you?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it's tough just because I've never played it, and I kept on playing the John Deere before, so before -- the charter helps. I've got to tip my cap to the folks there because I've got a routine now when I get here on Monday and I stick to it. So yeah, I mean, I think I've just -- I've embraced the fact that you don't have to be perfect. You've just got to try to hit that ball solid. Solid shots usually pan out. They may not be phenomenal, but hit solid shots, hit solid shots. I don't know, I'm just getting more and more experienced. I don't want to be cliché here, but that's the truth.

Q. And today did you feel a certain extra comfort level because obviously --
ZACH JOHNSON: Right. Well, no, not as such. I've been playing pretty good, I think, coming into this week. At least controlling my shots and making a few putts occasionally. My outlook was if it happens today, great. If it surfaces today, that's terrific. If it doesn't, then hopefully it resurfaces tomorrow and I can keep going with it. Regardless of what I finish this week, I'm pretty happy with where my game is as a whole.

Q. How closely have you looked at the weather report?
ZACH JOHNSON: I check it out probably every day, but it's probably smart to check it out like the next hour or two (laughter), because I remember when I got my tee times, I'm like, sweet, that's the good side. Well, it may not be. Who knows? You just never know. You never know. I'd love to be a meteorologist over here.

Q. We saw you having a chat to Tiger yesterday. Were you surprised to see him at the opposite end of the leaderboard?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm not familiar with what he shot.

Q. He's 4-over. Does that surprise you?
ZACH JOHNSON: I haven't seen him hit a shot in months. I mean, we had a chat. It was nothing about, hey, how you playing? Obviously he struggled a little bit today, which is unfortunate. But he's Tiger; he could turn it around tomorrow.

Q. In terms of playing in America before coming over here, obviously it's worked for you. Do you think maybe thoughts about not coming over here early are a little bit unfounded?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, you look at it a lot of different ways. There's a lot of Europeans that come over and play with us after they've just played over here, and they have success. You look at guys that are Americans that come over here and play in the Scottish and they play great there and play well here as a result. I don't think there's a -- I think you can hash that out and try and find a common denominator, and I think you're going to struggle. I've just gotten used to this routine and it works to a degree for me. Obviously I haven't -- I've had maybe two or three, three or four top 10s but nothing outrageously good, but I love the John Deere Classic, and I love this tournament. They just so happen to be in back-to-back weeks right now. Next year it's a little bit different.

Q. You mentioned the forecast. Does today feel like the day you wouldn't want to let an opportunity pass?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think the moment I start dwelling on that, then I don't really execute properly. You start putting more pressure on yourself to have to hit shots. I was just having a good time. I've got to be honest, I made about a nine to ten-footer on the first hole, right-edge putt kind of thing, and that really kind of settled me down and kept me composed, and from there I just played free golf, but I got off to a good start. I knew you had to. It's not like it's a secret. You saw low scores early. I want to say somebody shot 29, didn't they?

Q. Yeah, Lingmerth.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I saw that. Anyway, I don't like going out there and saying I have to do this or I need to do that.

Q. Did you watch any of the coverage this morning?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I got to see a little bit when I was warming up in the gym. I mean, I remember -- I don't know if I saw a shot, maybe a tee shot, a couple putts. That's all I really recall. I'm so routine -- I slept in, too. It was awesome.

Q. 6-under through 10 holes, what were you thinking through that point?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I was pretty happy with that at that point. I saw the group in front of us tee off on 11, and I guess I did tee off on 11 first -- yeah, I did have the honour. But we noticed what they hit because we all hit up on 10 so we could watch them hit on 11, and 11 was a new pin. There's a new area to that green on the left. You know, my caddie and I tried to look in their bags and find out what they were hitting. That helps because you can kind of tell the shots they hit and based on how they hit them where they went. That was nice. So once I turned from 11 at 6, that was really it. I parred 11. I don't know what the scoring average is on 11, but I guarantee you it's not under par. I guarantee you it's closer to 4 than 3. After that it was just about executing, hitting shots, getting up-and-down when I needed to, and for the most part I did that. I took a divot out of 17 green, but other than that, I did all right.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you hit like a low draw. Do you feel like your ball flight suits this course?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, my straight shot is a draw, if that makes any sense. It's probably getting higher as I've gotten older for some reason. But yeah, I don't know. For obviously a modest distance guy, I think the draw helps to a degree. I'm a guy that doesn't like to fight the wind with the driver, so my driver -- I'm very confident in setting up down the left side and hitting a push, maybe a little bit of a cut, if you can call it that, and just use the wind. That's always been very, very comfortable for me. It's probably why I hit a lot of fairways. But there's very minimal side spin to a degree with my driver. Can a low draw help you here? Sure, but as I've said before, there's bunkers out there that you've got to carry, so a high bomb is a great shot. I'm shocked I drove 10 green. I don't know what the number was, but you catch my drift.

Q. We make you aware all the time about all the type surrounding Jordan. Is this good for golf or what do you think of this young man?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think he's terrific for golf. I think it's certainly great for American golf, but it's great for the state of golf as a whole, just because you've got a kid that's -- he hasn't pushed the ceiling as high as some of the other guys before him, but he's kind of squatting down and trying to push up on it, and it's great. His game is great. His putter is phenomenal. His mental side is probably the best side that I've seen of his game, aspect of his game, and beyond that, he's a better kid off the golf course.
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