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August 9, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Zach, we know you've got a busy schedule, so we appreciate you taking the time to come in for a few minutes before the start of the 2016 John Deere Classic.
I could sit here and pretty much take up the entire time rattling off the impressive numbers --
ZACH JOHNSON: I'd rather you not.
THE MODERATOR: -- that you put up here, but at the risk of jeopardizing any kind of jinx, I won't.
2012 champion of the John Deere Classic; making your 15th consecutive start in the event. With all that said, I'll just turn it over to you for some comments on being back.
ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. No, I mean, it's the home game. It's fantastic to come back here every year. This place is very special. First sponsor exemption I ever received -- technically the first and second sponsor exemption I ever received was here.
Being associated now with John Deere Corporate and certainly the tournament with Clair Peterson and his staff and all the executive board and whatnot, I think I know my role, but yet when I come back here they allow me just to be a competitor and play.
So I'm excited for the week. I mean, it's just a little bizarre it's this week rather than July, but that's a whole 'nother subject. It's never a bad time to be in the Quad Cities.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You brought it up. The August dates. You may have two different perspectives on this being a player and a board member. What are your thoughts about this tournament being in August this week?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I mean, here is the thing: The Olympics has put a wedge in our schedule in the summer so it's affected every tournament post-U.S. Open, if I'm not mistaken. Up until that point I think it was pretty normal.
So I don't know if there is a positive for anybody. It's just -- there may not be many negatives either. It's just different.
I do think it's a little unfortunate that it's the first week of the Olympics. You can look at it a number of different ways. There are only two weeks left before the playoffs start. There are only so many weeks left of Ryder Cup points. There are a lot of things at stake, so guys want to play and get some points here and there. There are incentives there.
But the Olympics touched the majors, too. It's not like it just affected this week. It's really wedged our whole schedule and really made you think about when to play and when to rest, which is oftentimes more important this time of year.
Q. You're blessed with being an American citizen, and that means that winning a major last year is enough to get you on the Olympic team. With that said, how much are you watching what is going on in the Olympics? (Indiscernible.)
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, no, I mean, obviously being an athlete, a competitor, and a sports fanatic, I'm watching the Olympics any opportunity I have at this point. Just trying to keep my eyes open at night really.
Once it switched in with the gymnastics and the swimming, I thoroughly enjoy watching that, and obviously track and field next week.
Yeah, I had my opportunities. It's not like I didn't have my opportunities to make that team. I'm not bitter about it at all. I mean, honestly I can sit here and say I'm not so sure I would go anyway. But that's a whole 'nother topic of discussion with the Olympics.
But I'll be a fan. I'm an American, like you said, and very fortunate to be so, and so I'm pulling for those teams and those athletes that are representing our country.
Q. Have you talked to any of your friends on the team about the experience so far?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think the three that played in Hartford just got down there, so I haven't been able to correspond with them. I didn't want to bother Rickie too much. Rickie and I use the same physio, chiropractor, so I text with him a good bit, and he said the experience has been tremendous.
Q. What's been the key to your consistent success every single round here at the John Deere Classic?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I mean, there are a lot of factors probably involved. I'm certainly comfortable with golf course. I'm certainly comfortable with these greens and the bentgrass. I'm certainly experienced here. You know, I've had some good low rounds.
With that comes confidence, I think. Oftentimes confidence, like I've said, can breed momentum. It can just carry over week to week, month to month, year to year.
All that being said, I've embraced the fact that it's a fun week for me because I have family, I have friends that come out. Doesn't matter if I shoot 78 or 62 here, they're still going to cheer me on. That's pretty special.
So that's why it's always been a highlight of my calendar.
Q. (Question regarding Mt. Rushmore.)
ZACH JOHNSON: I would have to look at stats. I'm not great on knowing who has done what here other than within the last so many odd years. Clearly Steve's track record here is the most impressive. I want to say he won three in a row; is that right?
THE MODERATOR: Uh-huh.
ZACH JOHNSON: Obviously Jordan has won here twice. Most people think, Oh, yeah, he's won here two or three, three or four time. No. I've got my one; hoping for another.
And I get that. Obviously I have an affiliation to the area, from this area more or less, and I have the John Deere logo on my golf bag.
But who would I put on there? I don't know. Yeah, I guess you would probably say Steve and I and you would have to throw Jordan on there to a degree.
Q. One more.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I don't -- how about Sam Allen?
Q. Clair says D.A. Weibring.
ZACH JOHNSON: D.A. Weibring? Oh. Well, everybody's got their own opinion. I love D.A. D.A. is tremendous.
Q. We are in a different time of year. What's the difference in the course? What are you seeing out there?
ZACH JOHNSON: I have no idea. I have not been out on the course yet, so my guess is won't be a whole lot different. I mean, I grew up in this area. July and August seem to be one month out here. It's hot, humid.
If it was down south there is summer and really hot summer. Up here it's different. I'm assuming it's not going to be a whole lot different.
I remember playing one year -- must've been one of the sponsor exemption years. I can't recall. I want to say it was mid-to late September. It was fast. It was firm. It was cooler temperatures for the most part, but perfect: 75, maybe 70, maybe 80 one day or another.
But the grass thins out that time of year and the leaves are starting to fall, change whatever. That's actually the best time of year to be in the Midwest. We all know that. It's the best time to be playing golf in the Midwest, too.
Course was harder that year. It was firmer and faster and the fairways were harder to hit. That's just the way it is.
But my guess is it won't be any different than previous years.
Q. Are you pleased with the year you've had?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I'm never overly content with anything. As a competitor there is never a moment I'm complacent. There are probably aspects or times of my game where I feel like, This is pretty good. Let's just kind of maintain it. The moment I think about maintenance is the moment it kind of goes the other direction.
There are some things I feel like I need to polish. For the most part, I like where I'm at. Physically I feel like I'm pretty good, you know. I had a little bit of an issue with my health in the spring and lost a lot of weight which is not good for me, but it's starting to come back.
Along the way, I mean, I was still able to compete. It wasn't like I was not able to work, but I definitely feel like I jumped a hurdle there. Yeah, I feel good. My short game seems to be tremendous. Things are going to happen. It's just that darn word I hate, but I know it's prevalent and essential, and that's patience. That's basically my state of mind right now.
Q. Ryder Cup on your mind at all?
ZACH JOHNSON: It's on my mind after 2014, yeah. Every chance I have, yeah. I try not to think about it, but you can't not think about it.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your visit with the Hawkeye football team.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it was a treat. Really one of those situations where I got done in Hartford and was thinking about going home and my wife is like, Well, I'm packing all day Monday. It's just a tease for me to come down there and then have to turn around and come back up today.
So I decided to come here yesterday with some buddies. Talked to a couple of the personnel there I know really well. I knew they were in camp, but I didn't realize they allowed somebody to come and watch.
So I took full advantage of it. I was like a kid in a candy story. It was tremendous. I mean, they are very hospitable. They love what I do sounds like, or how I do it maybe is a better way to put it. Certainly I love the culture that's established there. Just the overall class of professionals that that place exudes is pretty apparent.
You know, it starts at the top and goes down. It's fun. I'm not sitting there analyzing, Oh, what are they doing? I don't know Xs and Os of the game per se. I feel like I'm 12 out there and I look like I'm 12 out there.
But it was fun.
Q. Any big message you try to relay to the team?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, nothing they probably hadn't heard before. I was kind of thrown on the spot, which was fine. I didn't want to be too cliche, but I basically just told them they got a pretty awesome opportunity. It's a small percentage of kids that get that opportunity regardless of sport, regardless of the institution.
But just to take advantage of that and not take it for granted.
Q. Ask you about Jim Furyk's 58 and that historic day.
ZACH JOHNSON: I mean, I don't know what else you would say other than beyond impressive. I'm not surprised because it's Jim. But not birdieing 13 and 15 and shooting 58 there, there are only two Par-5s. That's a course where every year I play I feel like I should shoot 5-under minimum every time I step on those grounds.
It humbles me, so maybe I don't respect it enough. Clearly is didn't respect Jim.
It was very impressive. I played with him Thursday and Friday. He made about a -- had to be at least six, seven, eight feet for par on 9 to make the cut.
58 is remarkable, but to grind it out? He shot 4-over the first day and grinded out a 5-under on Friday to make the cut. And then lo and behold -- I'm assuming he finished in the top 10, top 5. I don't even know. Bottom line is that's pretty awesome.
He's the model I use for a lot of things.
Q. How so?
ZACH JOHNSON: Just how he goes about his game both on and off it. We're both modest in hitting, but yet we cling to our strengths and utilize our strengths.
There are not many aspects to his game that lack anything. If you're going to sit here and say he doesn't hit the 300 yard carry drive, yeah. Other than that, there is really not much that he has that lacks if he's playing decent to really good.
Q. Does that affect what you think is possible on a golf course? Obviously everyone talks about one shot at a time, one hole at a time. But 58, though, was a number nobody thought about.
ZACH JOHNSON: Does it affect me when I'm playing or...
Q. Just overall. When you see somebody shoot a 58, does it make you change...
ZACH JOHNSON: No, no, not at all. Bottom line is you got to get some breaks. Bottom line is you got to hit it really good and you got to make a lot of putts. No, doesn't affect anything.
What's crazy is the fact that we've had two 58s in two weeks. That's never -- well obviously it's never happened. Probably not going to happen again. At least not in my time.
Yeah, I can't think how that's going to affect me at all. You just know you go to some of these tournaments, and these fields, because they're so deep, you got to shoot low numbers. 58 is low. I shoot 58 every day. Just depends how many holes I got left.
Q. TPC Highland is a course you walk onto thinking you need to shoot 5-under. Is that kind of the same mentality out here?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, somewhere in that regard. I mean, the difference is that I think it's much more attainable here. You have four par-5s -- three. Excuse me. Three par-5s and a drivable par-4 here.
There you have two par-5s. TPC River Highlands is harder. Top to bottom it's a harder golf course. The greens are smaller. Probably more difficult to read. Poana. There are some changes there that made it a little bit more difficult with the sand, the bunkering.
This is the time of year where you feel like you got to get it, no question.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports