|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
March 25, 2016
CHRIS REIMER: Congratulations, Zach Johnson, advanced through the group stage here at the Dell Match Play. Never actually reaching the 16th hole in a match. Not to say anything is easy, but a comfortable first three rounds for you.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, very comfortable. It's just that, it's just the first three days. It's not like I have anything -- a 1-shot lead or a one-hole lead going into tomorrow. I still have to perform. That's the beauty of match play. I better bring my A game, regardless of who or what transpires.
But I'm confident. I'm confident in the lines I'm taking. I'm confident in the shots I'm hitting. Certainly pretty confident on the greens as a whole. I made three bogeys and they've all been three-putts, but I guess you're going to do that considering the greens and the undulations. Speed is of the utmost. I feel good. Everything is pretty solid.
Q. What do you think of 16, 17 and 18? (Laughter)?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, they're good holes. Yeah, you know, it's nice not having to play them, first and foremost. That being said, I did play them -- I played 16 twice this week now, and I played 17 and 18 three times, just because of how I navigated the golf course. Good finishing holes. Great risk/reward on par-5. Good little par-3, tough green. And 18 obviously is one you can kind of get at. Great finishing holes.
Q. What about 15, where you finished off?
ZACH JOHNSON: My 15th hole today?
Q. Two of the three days?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it's a hole that kind of requires a fade and usually my fade falls left off the tee.
Today that was probably one of the best drives I hit, just a little baby push and I had a sand wedge in to a back pin and hit two good shots and obviously I made the putt. He had probably 12 or 15 feet for par. But it's nice making a putt rather than -- to win a match rather than either myself or my opponent missing a putt. It's always nice to end on a make.
He gave me a test at the end. He hit some good shots that didn't get rewarded and brought it back. I think I was 5-up at one time and he got back to 3. I had to work, which is good. It was a good test.
Q. Did you already talk about 12?
ZACH JOHNSON: No. Yesterday or today?
Q. Today. When you missed the putt on 11, you've still got a comfortable lead and then put it in the water. Any kind of a wake-up call to get up and down?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, that was not in the agenda when I teed off. Just -- that's the worst shot I've hit probably all week, I would assume. Yeah, that's the worst shot of all week. I hit a 5-iron. Probably should have hit a 4-iron, but I hit a 5-iron, just trying to run it on the green and got lazy with it and flipped it. A great save, and quite honestly he made probably a better save based on where he was after his third shot. He gave me a gift on the second shot. But I gave him a gift on my second shot. It probably evened out. Two four-footers, four and a half footers for par. I was running with a par off that green.
Q. Most of the early part of the week, there's a lot of comments about this is a match play course, should suit someone like Zach Johnson. I heard that a lot of that this week. What does that mean to you?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. What I think it does mean is that the previous venues -- well, last year was probably pretty good for me. But the ones in Arizona were not good for me.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes, exactly. I get why guys are probably saying that. You don't have to have a 300-yard carry. You don't have to just swing for the fences. The fairways are tight, and I'm hitting my driver well. So I understand that.
But these greens are so undulated and they're quadrant like in the sense where the pin placements are, if you miss it here, it rolls there. You've still got to hit quality iron shots. I've got loft in my hands. There's not many times I'm pumping a 5-iron into a par-4. I get that. So is everybody else. I don't know. I don't know.
Q. You got four wins in Texas. Is there something about playing in this state that brings out the best in you?
ZACH JOHNSON: I've had missed cuts in Texas, too. Yeah, I enjoy -- if you're going to try to summarize it, I probably enjoy the grass around here. This time of year there's some overseed with a little bit of bent in there at times. I think this is 80 poa, 20 percent bent. I enjoy the greens, clearly. Colonial is bent.
There's wind, typically, in Texas. We know that, the clichÃ©, Texas wedge. I don't want to say that I'm a phenomenal wind player, but I pride myself on trajectory control and wind play. I guess I technically am the champion golfer of the year. Usually win there.
Again, though, the John Deere Classic, it's usually 85, humid and no wind. I don't know. I don't know. There's no taxes here, right? That's my motivation. That's my wife's motivation.
Q. You're moving, in other words?
ZACH JOHNSON: No.
Q. One thing I'm sure you do know is you won the British Open, I'm curious some of your experiences with the Claret ug and how much you've enjoyed --
ZACH JOHNSON: Thoroughly enjoyed it. Had some great experiences with it. To be perfectly honest with you, since just after Christmas, I think I've had it in my possession for like two nights. So it's being shared with my team and whatnot, as it should be. Because that's what it's all about, as far as I'm concerned. I know where it is right now. It's not in my possession or my family's possession.
Q. What's the best thing you've done with it?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know if there's anything that's overly outlandish or anything like that. But just sharing it with my friends and family has been an absolute joy. Drinking wine out of it, drinking anything out of it has been great. I'm not going to sit here and say I've done anything -- it's just not me. That and I respect what it is, you know. But it's a pretty awesome piece of silver.
Q. Any advantage to be taken from the fact that you've only had to play 42 holes? Is that a good thing with the format and what's ahead this weekend possibly?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I think it's certainly not a negative. If anything, it could be a positive or an advantage, I don't know. Technically I don't think I've been in this position. Well, I haven't been in this position.
Yeah, I like the rest. I'm going to go eat and maybe do a little bit of a workout or something like that. I should be fresh for tomorrow. That's clearly what you want, especially if you've got to keep going the distance. So, yeah, if anything, it's a significant positive.
Q. Do you like this format better than the old match play format that we had?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm indifferent. I think it's better for television. I certainly think it's better for spectators and sponsors, that kind of goes without saying. So if my indifference -- if I talk it out and think about it, I think I'd probably sway on the side it's probably a better scenario. At the same time, somebody brought it to my attention, I kind of cruised through my first two days to a degree. I could have lost 1-down today and technically still missed it. There's that scenario. But at the same time, you know what, there's nothing wrong with with that. You've still got to go out and perform.
I think there's probably -- yeah, I think it's probably a positive as a whole. There's just more golf. Every match does matter, especially when it comes to points, whether it's money or Ryder Cup or FedEx. A 1-2 record versus a 2-1 record, you get more for the 2-1, as you should.
Q. You had a front row seat to Jordan's first tournament win at John Deere?
ZACH JOHNSON: Playoff, I didn't play with him. But, yeah, I gave it to him. What? (Laughter).
Q. Sorry. What I'm asking is what was the most impressive thing to you about him in that circumstances and did you see last year coming?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, the most impressive thing is he can blade a sand wedge and make it out of a sand trap. That's impressive. What was the question? I'm still bitter about that.
Q. I'm sorry.
ZACH JOHNSON: No.
Q. What was impressive, scary, about him and did you see last year coming?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, I don't think anybody saw it coming. You'd be lying if you saw it coming. Maybe he did. Obviously only he would know or his team.
No, I didn't see it coming. You knew he had kind of the "it" factor. To what degree, it's hard to manage. And I think the only way -- you really can't pinpoint it or grasp what he did last year is because we're talking about intangibles. We're talking about an innate ability to get the ball in the hole in a quick manner consistently, week after week after week. You don't see that coming.
I think the beauty of it is that -- my guess is now we're just seeing the tip of it, tip of the iceberg. I hope it continues because it's impressive. And selfishly, it makes me want to work harder and obviously I think it's great for the game.
Q. Just curious, what were your emotions, your enthusiasm for this event when it was at Dove Mountain all these years?
ZACH JOHNSON: I was ecstatic. Loved it. I think I won -- well, we played the other one, what was the other course? How many times did we play there? Three? Three too many. It was better than the next one (laughter).
I remember playing actually pretty good golf. We were through 11 holes. I was playing Jason Day. I was 1 or 2-under and I was down 7, maybe 6, whatever, beside the point. But I was getting thumped. I'm playing pretty good on that golf course. It does not suit me, at all.
Q. I'm just curious, was there ever a chance -- I know Adam Scott disliked it, skipped it one year. Phil -- was there ever a chance or thought process about not going?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't think that ever really crossed our table as far as scheduling went. It was always pretty good date-wise, you know, so it was one where just kind of go out there and freewheel it and see what happens. I can't recall that being a part of the discussion. But I'm not upset that we're not there anymore.
Q. Bob had mentioned that you'd only played 42 holes. You've only trailed after one of those holes. When you're not having to constantly play from behind, do you feel like that keeps you a little fresher when you're in the lead all the time?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, yeah, it's kind of like some people think in match play it's nice to hit your approach shots first into a par-4, for example, right? So when you have the honor on the tee and you get the ball in the fairway, I'm not saying that's a lot of pressure, but I hit a lot of fairways. I hit a lot of greens. Matter of fact, I don't think I -- with the exception of 12, trying to get up and down from 70-something yards for par, I didn't miss a green today. I used my putter on every hole.
Over time that can just add a little bit of gravity to your opponent, and, therefore, yeah, it's nice. Just getting the ball in play is a big part of it.
I think if you look at like tandem play, Ryder Cups, Presidents Cups, there's a reason -- granted, my game can't compare with anybody because of how boring it is. Like me and Dufner, for example, we play similar games. We get the ball on the fairway, get the ball on the green and occasionally make a putt. That can wear on somebody. I've had that against me, too Don't get me wrong. But I've done a lot of that the last three days.
Q. After you won your second major, do you start thinking about the Hall of Fame?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, I've had that question numerous times. Actually I had that question, I think, in the press conference after the ceremony. To me, it's for someone that's really old. Granted, I just turned 40. But to me, it's something, hey, he's starting to retire. I know the protocol to a degree, I don't know all the stipulations, but it isn't anything in my mind as far as goals. It would be a nice honor. At the same time, I feel like I've still got a lot of golf ahead of me. I'm going to keep playing. And clearly I'm not the one making that decision, and I'm fine with that.
Q. As somebody that's played this event a lot and seen a lot of golf courses and crowd sizes, do you feel like this is sort of superior to what you've seen in maybe match play has found a home here? How do you see it functioning as a venue just all around?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think it's pretty comparable. Dove Mountain was one where it was a little more remote. San Francisco, we had great crowds last year. I don't know the numbers, the figures, that kind of thing, but I think the fans have been terrific. I don't know what you compare it to, but it seems like a normal Tour event with the big names here, that's what it feels like.
Q. You don't have any issues with match play close to the Masters, does it affect your game?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, it doesn't bother me a bit. Quality golf is quality golf. Bad golf is bad golf. I don't play Houston, so my preparation next week will be much the same as what I've done over the years and hopefully that formula will keep working.
Q. From Christmas of 2007 to March the 26th, how many nights was the Green Jacket out of your possession?
ZACH JOHNSON: Never, because no one else -- I shouldn't say no one, none of my team are 40 regs (laughter).
Is that what you're alluding to?
Q. A little bit. What's more fun to have?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know if one's more. I think just different. The Green Jacket, it was one where I didn't expect -- I certainly was surprised that I won it, let's just be honest.
So it was one where I don't even really -- it took me months and months and months to comprehend the weight of the situation with Augusta. Shock and awe, right? This one I'm still in awe because of what it is. My love for that tournament was immediate in 2004, when I first played.
What I'm really excited about is introducing my Green Jacket to the Claret Jug that I have currently. That's going to be a lot of fun in April. Two weeks, yeah. All onsite, not off-site because I can't take my jacket off-site.
Q. Unless you're going to win?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I didn't want to get too arrogant, but clearly that would be a goal.
CHRIS REIMER: Good luck the rest of this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports