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January 19, 2016

Zach Johnson

La Quinta, California

DOUG MILNE: Like to welcome Zach Johnson to the interview room, Reigning Open Champion, here at the CareerBuilder. Thanks for joining us. You were making your sixth start I believe here in the event, fifth consecutive, and along with that have come a couple of top-10 finishes, including a third in 2014. I know we got some different courses this year, but you're coming off a top-10 last week in Hawaii, so with all that said, I'll just turn it over to you for a few comments on being here.

ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. Yeah, I love coming back to the desert. It looks like the forecast is perfect kind of a dome like as we say. Might get a little bit of wind here and there, but love coming back here. The weather is always the biggest treat. And certainly the fans. But excited, two new courses, two I played, but it's been, I don't even know, 15 years probably. 14 or 15 years. Have to think about that. But excited about that. I know they're both good. Obviously La Quinta, too. I was a late addition, it wasn't on my schedule, and it's not much of a good story, but I just woke up one morning and I'm like, why am I not playing next week? So here I am. Excited.

DOUG MILNE: Take questions, please.

Q. I take it that 14 or 15 years ago whenever it was it was Q-School?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes. It was Q-School.

Q. So have you seen the golf courses this week yet?
ZACH JOHNSON: No. I got in last night and came here this morning to work out. So I have not seen them, not yet.

Q. What do you remember about where you were in your career 14 years ago when you were here?
ZACH JOHNSON: I was still just trying to make my way. That was really what it was. It was the last time I went to Q-School was here. I had a couple good years in the mini tours and I thought I'm ready, I played numerous whatever you want to call them, WEB.COM events at that point. A few PGA TOUR events and felt like everything was going the right direction. I remember I got here, it was six days, right? And the first three days I was well inside the top number, probably in the top 15, maybe top-10. And I just absolutely tanked it the last two or three days. But then I played the WEB.COM in 2003 and that was it. So, but, yeah, I remember I don't like Q-School.

Q. It appears that the transition to the new clubs has been pretty smooth. You haven't looked like you missed a beat. Has it been that way?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I really don't know what kind of expectations I had. Granted, I'm not going to make a decision like that, a change like that, without some sort of confidence immediately. Whatever is not there is really, really close. It's coming, I feel really good about the direction. I just feel like everything is in place to make me a better player. So, my irons were great last week, my driver was a little bit off. Once again there's so many, it's subtleties. On a course like last week, it showed. A course like Kapalua, it doesn't really show. The fairways are massive. I'm swinging basically as hard as I can every tee shot. So last week it was all about position and there was some things I needed to kind of manipulate with my driver and I feel like I've done that. If I haven't done that, I'm really, really, close. So I'm really excited about what I have in my bag currently and then what's going to be going in my bag in the not too distant future.

Q. Do you have any good stories from Q-School?
ZACH JOHNSON: I was engaged that fall. I got married that winter. She was here with me. And still married me despite my attitude.

Q. Any good lessons from that collapse that you talked about?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, well, I think that if anything, yeah, I learned, you learn every week, every day. I flew through first stage, finished second or third in second stage, and I'm thinking this is it, I'm ready. Not only am I ready, but it's now. And lo and behold I think everything happens for the right reason and what I needed was a year out on the WEB.COM to prepare myself for the PGA TOUR. My WEB.COM year in 2003 was probably, this may sound ridiculous, was probably the best year of my career in all senses of it, both on and off the golf course. Granted my marriage, but second knowing how to play on the international TOUR, a TOUR that's set up just like the PGA TOUR and then knowing how to win and then knowing how to if you're not going to win, knowing how to got in contention of the just all the little things, subtleties that certainly helped me going into 2004 and that transition from 2003 to 2004 was minimal. Just golf courses at that point. So, yeah, I remember I played, I remember who I played my last round with, he's a good friend of mine. Josh Broadway that's all I really remember. I remember walking down the Stadium Course with Josh. Cross handed guy. You don't know who Josh is, but anyway.

Q. With these new venues, do you and maybe your fellow pros, are you anticipating these guys to get comfortably quickly on these golf courses?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it's desert golf. It's very target oriented golf. So it's really placement here to put it there and that kind of thing. I like that kind of golf. So, I don't know what their approach is going to be, I know what mine is. I'm going to look for the trouble and then kind of from there confidence it. It's kind of how I've always done it. Whether it's the tee shot or approach shot. It's just how I operate. There's a lot of guys here, let's be honest, that have played these courses a lot more than I have and some that played it -- I don't know where Q-School was this -- I guess it's different now -- point is there's probably some younger guys that were not here that long ago playing to get their card and a number of guys that have been here too. So it's not like it's completely foreign to everybody, but some of the guys, this is new territory, but we all get it. It's not like it's that -- it's new for everybody, basically, if you really want to boil it down to that. So I don't think anybody had an anybody has a direct advantage, unless you live here.

Q. So one course one day and one course the next?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, you would think I thought that through by now, but...

(Laughter.) Yeah, I'm definitely going to pay for attention to these two than I am La Quinta. La Quinta is, what you see is what you get. That place is so pure. I'm assuming I'll probably go over there and putt at least, maybe drive around a little bit. But I'm going to spend a lot of time here the next two days and try to hit a shot at least every hole, so. We'll see what we can do from there.

DOUG MILNE: All right, thanks for your time, we appreciate it.

ZACH JOHNSON: My pleasure. Cheers.

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