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September 29, 2016

Zach Johnson

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

JOHN DEVER: Good morning, everybody, and welcome back again to the 41st Ryder Cup. Pleased to be joined by Zach Johnson.

Zach, this is your fifth Ryder Cup, and that's more than most, but Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood have reached double digits. Phil had already been there, but 11 and 10, respectively. How much of an accomplishment is that? Does that amaze you?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it's impressive. You know, it's not easy to make these teams, first and foremost. Second, you're talking about, you know, consecutive Cups. It's pretty unbelievable.

What it really just shows is consistency throughout his years on TOUR, throughout his years playing this game. You throw in The Presidents Cups, it's even that much more impressive -- both of those guys. It's just indicative of really quality golf and sheer talent, is the way I'd equate it.

Like you said, I've played in -- this is my fifth. It's not hard to have motivation to make these teams. But it's one thing to have the motivation; it's another to actually put it to use and execute it so you can get on this team. It's very impressive what those two individuals have done.

JOHN DEVER: Take us in the U.S. team room for a bit. What's different about it this year than maybe other years? We are hearing about a positive vibe. Is that something you also subscribe to?

ZACH JOHNSON: I'd say the Cups I've had, there's been a lot of positive flow. There is something different about this year in the sense that it just seems like we're all on the same page. I'm not suggesting we weren't in the past. It's just a little bit different.

I think 2012 was really good, too. If you really want to break it down, I thought we were in a really, really good place. We just didn't execute when we had to in the end on Sunday.

I think if you really -- I know 2014, we got beat pretty bad. That goes without saying.

But since '08, where we won in '08, it's not as bad as it seems. So you've really got to look at it from a couple of different lenses and keep it simple in the sense that, if you want to break down the sessions, we're just not that far off. It's a lull here, a lag there.

But we won most of the sessions in 2010, even though there was only four instead of five. 2012, we won three, halved one and lost one.

It's really just about execution, I think. But getting in a position to be able to execute properly, a lot of guys have alluded to that. I think we're just in a much better position as a team to go out there, tandem-wise and individually, and execute.

Q. With no Minnesotans on the team, we have to adopt someone, you're the closest?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, there have been -- there is a Minnesotan on the team, his name is Tom Lehman and he's just as much a part of the team as anyone else, which is tremendous, because he is Minnesota golf to most guys, most people, I'm assuming most Minnesotans.

But, yeah, I'll take that adoption, sure. This is kind of the Midwest roots where I grew up, a lot of fans, a lot of friends, and certainly Iowans. It's not that difficult to get here, and what a great place to come. I spent a lot of time here as a kid, so I thoroughly enjoy coming up to Minnesota. Should be great.

Q. These weeks are difficult enough to deal with but how much more difficult is it for you with what's going on in Iowa right now?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, it's been a focal point. I'd like to have only one focal point this week, but that seems to be the other, for obvious reasons. My hometown of Cedar Rapids, the forecast was one thing and fortunately it didn't quite get to that point. I think they were calling for 23 and a half feet of cresting, and it crested at 21 and some odd feet -- and some odd inches, so we got a little bit lucky there in that regard.

But in talking to some people that I know really well and guys that I trust back home, sounds to me like -- well, two things. One, we were more prepared this year than '08 with the floods. Two, you had great leadership this year.

Now, not fair to say that in '08 in the sense that we didn't know what to expect. So it's not -- you really can't compare apples-to-apples there.

They had about four or five, five or six days, to really prepare for this. And it's still not over, don't get me wrong. I don't want to say that they are out of the woods yet, but the water is starting to drop. It's dropped a foot, I think, in the last 24 hours, so it's continuing to recede a little bit.

What they have put in, you know, infrastructure-wise has helped pretty good. There's still going to be some issues, but a lot of businesses are going back to work tomorrow. My mom evacuated her office. She's going back shortly, even though she'll be here. And all in all, I think we kind of -- so far, we've escaped what could have been really bad.

Now there's other communities in the state, don't get me wrong, that have not been as probably fortunate as Cedar Rapids, so I don't know the end-all stats and data behind that, but I'll find out at some point. We're all one big family there.

You know, you never want to have that, doesn't matter what week it is. But I'm sure I'll get the information when I need it and maybe we can formulate something if need be.

JOHN DEVER: Good perspective.

Q. Being from Iowa, can you talk about how it makes it that much more special? Is it more fun for you to play in front of so many friends and family? And also, as a team, can the home course, the home crowd make a difference? I can't imagine how exciting it must be for you to hear all the roars from the crowd that you normally don't get as a team?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, first of all, it doesn't really matter where this tournament is being played. My family and friends are out in full force, Iowans are out in full force. Ryder Cup aside, it doesn't matter where I play, I hear I Iowans everywhere; maybe because they don't want to be in Iowa, I'm not sure. But they are everywhere. They have supported me from day one and continue to, so I'm forever grateful.

But yeah, being a band of brothers, a team, and hearing those roars, it's special. It's whole -- it's two or three octaves louder; it's whatever, decibel points louder. Everything is just deeper, louder. You can't put it into words unless you experience it yourself, as a fan and as a player. It's just -- I mean, my buddies back home in Georgia now where I live, a couple of them are coming up and they haven't experienced it yet. I'm like, you guys don't know what you're in for. I mean, you're going to absolutely love it.

It may not be the easiest to see some golf, but to be in on it and just be a part of it is pretty fantastic. And I'm saying that; I haven't been a spectator, but I'm just telling what you my folks have told me, what my friends have told me. And as a player, there's nothing better in golf.

Q. Continuing the Iowa hour here, it sounds like Cedar Rapids, there were thousands of volunteers that sandbagged and that kind of stuff that helped mitigate possible damage. What does that say about your people?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm not surprised nor shocked at all. I mean, what it says is that, much like we did in '08 -- '08 was more unexpected and kind of a flash -- not flash flood, but a flash flood. I mean, it was quick, it was powerful and it was 32 and a half feet, roughly, versus 21 and a half feet. That's a substantial difference.

But it doesn't surprise me. What they do is they roll their sleeves up, good people coming together with good people and trying to, like you said, help mitigate or potentially deflect a situation that could be absolutely horrible. That's how I grew up. That's that community. That's all of Iowa, and I'm not suggesting that's not communities or people elsewhere. But I can speak on behalf of where I'm from and that's exactly what we do.

There's a part of me last week, I'm preparing for this week where I'm like, I should probably be in Cedar Rapids. But in talking to some people, they are like, "No, we need you to prepare. We want you in Minnesota." So that was awfully kind.

But you do see the true character and the true values of people when tough situations arise, and you know, Cedar Rapidians, Iowans in general, yeah, there's a deep sigh, but then after that, it's like, okay, let's get to work.

Q. How do you handle it personally when there's sort of difficult times like that at home and you're preparing for a major tournament? Are you sort of relying on friends and family for updates? Are you monitoring the news? How do you incorporate that into your time?
ZACH JOHNSON: In my free time, I mean, I'm on my phone. My phone is -- outside of being a phone and communication, it's an information hub. I'm on -- seems like Twitter is probably the quickest news source at this point.

So yeah, I'm calling people and texting people. I've got my apps, weather apps. I'm looking at everything, constantly trying to get updated with what's going on. There's actually a lot of video streams from, I guess you call them skyscrapers, in Cedar Rapids, that I can visually monitor what's going on with the river. So I was doing all of that.

I was given a number of, you know, outlets to really monitor the situation back there. Certainly my parents and friends are probably the best news source, but I don't want to bother them, either.

My dad was sandbagging last week. He's a doctor, and one of his -- one of the other doctors in the town, he went and helped his clinic out because it's closer to the river. I don't know, I don't think it got impacted, but it could have a lot more seriously than my dad -- my dad is about, well, five or six blocks from the river. In '08, miraculously, it doesn't affect him, but the waters went past his office. His office is just built up another five or six feet. I mean, the aerial image of my dad's office is crazy back then. It was just about a three-foot strip of grass around the building and that was the only grass you could see in miles. I mean, a God thing right there.

But yeah, that's just indicative; it just goes to show that people back there want to help others. So I'm constantly getting information, I'm constantly searching it myself. It's nice having that technology with those livestreams.

Q. By any measure, you've had a successful career. Has it gnawed at you that you have not experienced what it's been like to win this event?
ZACH JOHNSON: If there's anything -- I want to win more tournaments. I certainly want to win more majors or be in contention to win more majors or have the opportunity to win majors.

But yeah, if there's anything that's kind of left on the docket, it's the fact that I have not been on a winning Ryder Cup Team yet. You know, I'm not suggesting it's going to be this week, because that's not the right thing to say or it's not realistic; but I like the opportunity presented this week, and I'm excited to get out there and compete.

JOHN DEVER: Zach Johnson, thank you, sir, for your time and have a fantastic week.

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