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May 13, 2016

Zach Johnson

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Q. Have you ever during the course of your career have you ever told yourself this is a place I should win at?
ZACH JOHNSON: I never said it's the place I should win at, I said it's a place I certainly can win at.

I feel like there's been a couple weeks here where I feel like I should have won, at 20/20 hindsight. All that being said, I've had some decent finishes. I just think that it suits my game.

Q. What's, what was working the last two days?
ZACH JOHNSON: I kept the golf course in front of me for the most part. Really avoided some big mistakes. Taking advantage of the par-5s even though I really haven't made that many birdies on the par-5s. Today. I birdied them all yesterday.

And then I had a couple short putts I missed today. So, that was key. But getting it under par with one birdie on the par-5s today is obviously nice. I'm hitting fairways for the most part, keeping the golf course in front of me, and eliminating those big mistakes.

Q. Seems like you were hitting your line there on 13, the par-3, it was going towards the three and it kind of was let the slope feed it to the hole there on the par-3.
ZACH JOHNSON: My tee shot? Yeah, that was a -- I was kind of in between, I'm like I think it's just a big nine, drawing nine. Wind was kind of, if anything, in out of the right. I hit it right where I was looking. At that point it's at the whim of the hill, but it managed to get down there to about 10 feet or so and fortunately I made it.

Q. Seemed like throughout most of the day a lot of camaraderie with you and Sergio.
ZACH JOHNSON: All three of us. But I don't know how many times Sergio and I have played together. This is his 17th year, it is my 13th year maybe, or something like that. 18th year for him. I don't know what it is.

We just played a lot of golf together. Certainly respect each other and enjoy each other's company.

Q. With the weather is like this, is there anything the rules staff can really do to stop you guys?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, the ball's going a long ways, obviously because of the heat. And the fairways are running pretty good.

All that being said, we noticed it right off the bat, I think the greens were certainly faster today. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, the greens were green. You're finding you got to look for green grass now. So, and around the hole, with traction, especially yesterday afternoon they were bumpy and very brown and now they're just like that already today.

So, it's not a long golf course, there's a lot of loft in your hand, however, with small greens, any miss is, any errant shot you can get penalized. There's nothing they can do, the greens are soft that a good shot gets rewarded, however the greens are fast enough and I would say brown enough that you still got to pay attention.

Q. The putt on 18 as good a one as you hit today off the fringe?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, yeah, no, that was perfect.

Q. You usually get below the hole --
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, granted, it didn't hit the back of the hole, but it went in -- that's a good 3-footer coming back, probably, almost four feet, maybe, if it doesn't hit the hole. But I'm trying to judge -- the first eight feet was all fringe and it was straight into the grain and then it's all down grain after that. So it was a difficult read.

That was a gift. But I also gave the course a couple gifts too so maybe it evens out.

Q. This happens often in weeks where there's a disparity in the early and late times. When you are teeing off early and you're nine back already, how difficult is that dynamic mentally to try to notes chase on a first day?
ZACH JOHNSON: I didn't know I was nine back.

Q. Or whatever it was. So you don't look at the board?
ZACH JOHNSON: I glanced. I knew they were shooting low, but I didn't know it was nine. That being said, I mean, I've teed off and in certain tournaments you're actually in the lead when you tee off in the afternoon. It shouldn't have any bearings. You know, if they're shooting some low numbers, there's a number of low numbers up there, then the course is gettable.

As I said yesterday, my entire thought process was all assumptions. Meaning, there probably wasn't much wind, greens were probably pretty good, pins were probably accessible, and that's why you saw low numbers. I assume.

Q. So you looked at it as an opportunity yesterday?
ZACH JOHNSON: It's an opportunity. I know we got a harder afternoon, I don't know what the stroke differential was, but it had to be over a shot.

Q. It was a couple.
ZACH JOHNSON: Two shots? Yeah, that would make sense. It's Thursday morning, Thursday morning you kind of expect that. Like I said, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, these greens were green, now they're not. And they were brown towards the middle part of my round yesterday and there's not a whole lot of green out there right now.

That's what you expect at THE PLAYERS. I think it's living up to it. So if you're a rookie or maybe, you may not have seen that, but those that have played here, that's what you expect.

Q. A couple of guys at the top of the leaderboard haven't played well in the past here, is it the kind of course that once you figure it out, you can attack it?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I think so. It's fickle. It exposes you if you're off, but if you're on, you can put a number up. That's the best way I can explain it. I think that it has a lot to do with the distance. Total yardage of the golf course. You have loft. The longest club I hit into a par-4 today, well, 14 I didn't hit a very great drive so I hit a punch 5-iron, but I'm not hitting hybrids and 4-irons and that kind of thing like you do in a lot of Major Championships.

I've hit one 5-iron, one 6-iron and everything else has been 7-iron and below. That's a lie, I haven't hit a 6-iron. One 5-iron. I think it's been 7-iron or below in the last two days. So, and we all know that I'm modest in driving distance, so I think it's just a matter of loft. That's really what it is. You get the ball on the green, the greens are good enough if you putt it on line it will go in. And I say, if you get it on the green, the greens are small. So sometimes a conservative shot into a green in regulation is, is probably the appropriate play.

And then the par-5s are reachable. Even 9 today was into the wind, but a lot of guys will get there in two. An all of the guys I played with, did. So par-5s are kind of like par-4 and a half's.

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