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July 17, 2015

Zach Johnson


MIKE WOODCOCK: We'll make a start. I'm very pleased to welcome Zach Johnson into the interview room. Zach, a great round today. That leaves you on 7-under par and two shots off the lead as it stands. Can you talk us through today's round and your position going into the weekend?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, thank you. I mean, I feel good about my position. Clearly you'd rather be towards the top than in the middle or the back going into the weekend. At the same time, it's only two days. You don't know what Saturday is going to hold. They're not going to finish today, so clearly they've got to come back out. The cut will be made midday, I assume late morning, and then we'll have to re-pair. But you know, I'm just excited where my game has been and where it is right now, whether it continues or even progresses from here this week, that would be fantastic. If it doesn't, I still like the state of where I'm at.

Q. In some sports I think you get a better score based on degree of difficulty. How good was that 66 yesterday, and how did it compare to maybe how you've played in The Open in the past? Was it your best round ever? And then how did it compare to today?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, I didn't play -- I feel like I played just as well today, I just didn't score. I had two three-putts today. I don't think I three-putted yesterday. I putted great yesterday. Still hit a bunch of greens today, you know, and just didn't -- I didn't stuff it. I hit some really good shots yesterday that allowed me to get to 6-under, and obviously 17 played like a par-5 yesterday. Today I made a 4, which was nice. As far as rounds in my career, I don't have any idea. I don't feel like -- like I said, I don't feel like I played that much different today than I did yesterday, truth be told. I just scored better yesterday. I took advantage of the short holes going out early on in the day, and then today, hit quality shots, just didn't manage to do much until halfway through that side. To a different wind, though. It actually started to switch probably my fifth, sixth, seventh hole, right in there, and went from -- we had east southeast yesterday, and then by the time I got to 14, 15, it was southwest, maybe a little bit more west. Totally different wind.

Q. Zach, when you got to the course today and saw what Mother Nature had wrought, what was your mindset?
ZACH JOHNSON: My mindset was let's hope there's a delay. But I thought that mindset was pretty far fetched, considering it is The Open Championship, and you expect brutal conditions at times. You expect the first tee, here you go, here's your peg, here's your ball, whatever is presented, go play. Clearly they made the right decision. The course was unplayable, especially talking to some of the guys that had teed off or even hit a few shots. The R&A did what they needed to do and what they were supposed to do, which was tremendous, and I'm -- a tip of the cap to the maintenance crew here because it was a lake on 1 and 18 essentially. They did a great job. The course still -- my goodness, we're still getting a lot of roll, specifically my last six, seven, eight holes, we had to account for release and roll after I don't know how many inches of rain since -- when did it start, like 2:00 a.m., something like that? They did a great job. But expectations going back to what you asked, I kind of did -- went through my routine again. Once they said be in position at this time, I kind of got back into it, and when I got to the range, it kind of felt like I had started my day.

Q. Do you think you came in a bit under the radar here because people seem to have forgotten you were very close to beating Jordan Spieth last week?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, last week is last week. You know what, I kind of feel like I'm always under the radar. I'll let you guys determine that. I mean, I think the media drives this -- granted, the scorecard is obviously a big part of that. I'm not saying I deserve anything more or less. That's not what I'm getting at. But I've had some decent success over here, nothing significant. Maybe a couple of top 10s, maybe three or four. I'm not even sure. But I love the game over here. I love this tournament. If I play well, well, that's just icing on the cake, because I just embrace the week. It's just tremendous golf. I mean, as a competitor and as a professional golfer, I mean, I know Augusta is Augusta and some of the other tournaments are tremendous, but this is just pure. This is pure.

Q. You obviously know what it takes to win a major. Given how you've started this year's Open Championship and where you're placed now, do you see any reason you cannot go on and win it?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, I don't. I mean, it's going to be a lot of great golf to get to that point, but I mean, if you'd have asked me that question on Wednesday, I'd have said the same thing. You just never know what's going to come about with the conditions and the factors presented, but you know, I feel like mentally I'm in a place that I can combat essentially whatever comes my way, just because there's a little bit of confidence, and maybe that mental state knowing that I can. It doesn't mean I'm going to, and I get that. My outlook right now is really just to keep doing what we're doing, trying to stay physically and mentally fresh, and you know, enjoying the ride because this is just a lot of fun.

Q. You did have the top 10 at Lytham and you were tied for sixth at Muirfield.
ZACH JOHNSON: Okay. Oh, yeah.

Q. Did that sort of change when you came over here thinking I can contend in this thing after having some good results before that?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, there were some middle-of-the-pack kind of finishes I think prior to those. Yeah, you know, there was a couple rounds that certainly I can reminisce and think about, specifically a couple really good days at Lytham. What was I, T10, T9? The nice thing, I had two good days there and two days that were pretty average, but I remember I got to play with Ernie on Sunday and I got to witness basically what it takes to come from behind, but more or less get yourself in position to win The Open Championship on a fantastic golf course. Now, he may have gotten some help, but it's a tournament, it's a major, it's golf. You never know. It was fun to witness. I was kind of trying to step aside occasionally because it was so cool to see what he was doing. There was a couple days that stuck out there. And then my first day at Muirfield, which I think highly of as a golf course, I don't know what I shot, but I believe I was in the lead going into the second round. Once again, it's pretty irrelevant, but I know I had a good day, and that was a day where I really controlled my trajectory. I was able to read the pace of the greens at an Open Championship. Yeah, going back to your question, yeah, that's the kind of stuff that sticks out and things I can kind of cling to, the positives. I've had some really bad rounds, too, in the Open Championship, but turn those into positives, you learn from them, and try again the next day. I don't know if my game suits it, but I certainly don't think it -- it might favour this kind of golf. You know, I can hit it down, I can keep it below the wind when it's gusty, and for the most part I'm an average -- better than average putter occasionally. The last two days I've putted really, really well despite a couple of three-putts.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Zach, thank you for joining us. Best of luck over the weekend.
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