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July 11, 2017
THE MODERATOR: Somebody that certainly needs no introduction, Zach Johnson, thanks for joining you for a few minutes; 2012 champion here the John Deere Classic. Making your 16th start here in the event, and I think five of the last six years either first, second, or third.
Obviously a lot of good history. I think last year when I introduced you I kind of rolled through so many accolades that there wasn't really much left for you to say after I got done.
With that, I'll turn it over to you for some comments on being back to a place that I know is near and dear to your heart.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, that's exactly right. This place is a highlight every year on my calendar, on my schedule, for a number of reasons. I love the golf course. That goes without saying. I love the people, being a part of this company, an ambassador of this John Deere tournament, and on the board of the tournament.
More than that, my kids love it. That's why we would come here regardless. Big dig tonight. So much to do with their friends this week. A lot of the kids come out. So that is also what dictates my schedule.
Always fun to come back. I was able to stop in my hometown for a few days, too. Seeing family, friends, it's never a bad thing.
THE MODERATOR: And just before we take questions, quick little update on how successful everything went yesterday.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, this weekend was I guesses our seventh annual foundation classic. I mean, I probably said it last year. It's probably going to be regurgitated: It exceeds my expectations every year both in support by the community on Monday at the event, at the tournament, so that was yesterday, and then also just the overall support financially by our sponsors, Trans America being the title, and then all of the umbrella sponsors that have been with us essentially from day one.
We've had minimal turnover and seem to add sponsors, so that's been great. We raised in a two-day period essentially $1.02 million. Enough said. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Enough said. With that we'll take some questions.
Q. Talk about that. Big week for you off the golf course. You're involved with your charity foundation, one plus million dollars, you come here to the John Deere Classic, which you're a big part of, ten plus million dollars. What does it mean to you to be active like that off the golf course as much as on the golf course?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, not only is it important, but I think it's a responsibility. I mean, I think it all boils down to the fact that this game can provide and be used in so many different ways. It's a platform you can use certainly for entertainment. Let's face it, it is.
It can being used for sport, exercise, health, that kind of thing. It is.
And then when it comes to being philanthropic or just a good steward of what you've been given, that's also what it's used for. I think that's the beauty of certainly the PGA TOUR, and the John Deere Classic in particular, but also a lot of us players have our individual ties or individual I guess you would say alliances or allegiances back home.
Cedar Rapids was the community that started me in all senses, you know, especially in the game of golf, so I just feel like, again, it's my responsibility to go back there and help those in helped me.
That's what this tournament is about, too. It's helping a community that showcases a great golf tournament, and that's awesome. I don't know if it gets enough credit as it should. I'm not just saying here, I am saying everywhere. Our tournaments on the PGA TOUR start with charity, and then from there, there is a competition, you know? So that's the beauty of golf.
If you really want to get down to it, I think you think about the guys that paved the way back then. Certainly Mr. Arnold Palmer bringing it to the masses and the guys before and after him, too. Pretty awesome.
Q. Much was made of pro golfers' pre-major activities, whether they take a week off, two weeks off, three weeks off.
ZACH JOHNSON: Uh-huh.
Q. You certainly have written the book on how to succeed at the John Deere Classic, play great, get on a charter, and win a British Open. Why do you figure it's a topic of conversations every year about who is playing close to the major and not and the like? Talk about your routine.
ZACH JOHNSON: That's a topic of conversation regardless of which major you're taking about. What guys are playing before the Masters, before in Memphis and the U.S. Open and so forth.
It will continue to be. This one is a little bit more unique. It's not like we're flying to Wisconsin Sunday night, so I get that.
I mean, one, I've gotten used to it. I've got a system when I land there -- and that jet does help immensely -- as to what I'm going to do and when I'm going to do it. Rest is paramount. Working out is a paramount thing just because it gets me going. You know, obviously then I can practice.
So the other aspect in these two weeks is that Scottish Open is a great tournament. Now it seems like they have really made it a priority to play a links-style golf course. You really can't fault somebody to prepare for the Open and the Scottish, they've really done a great job. You see more Americans, I think, more PGA TOUR players -- I shouldn't say Americans -- PGA TOUR players playing that event before the Open Championship.
However, this tournament is making it attractive, too. Whether it's how Jordan has played here and gone over there or myself, and then the fact that we will get you there in a pretty timely manner. So there is no negatives. It's just a matter of I guess priorities and desires and probably families as to which selection you're going to take.
Or just taking the week off and going over early. There are options. It's just really I guess individualistic on your path. I like being here.
Q. Following up on that, how do you take your game from here to the links-style? How does the adjustment work?
ZACH JOHNSON: First and foremost, I've played in that tournament a number of times. I think my game is suited to it. I mean, I think just the overall basis, the foundation is suited to it. I don't feel like I really have to overly prepare for that.
That being said, vastly different than TPC Deere Run. What I do know is good shots get related rewarded. Quality shots, solid shots get rewarded no matter what golf course you play.
Over there, the wind, the other elements that are involved, play a huge role in that. Actually probably a little bit more luck in that tournament sometimes based on tee times. You could tee off at 7:00, you could tee off at 4:00, right? So there are some elements there.
For the most part, I go into it just like any other tournament and try to prepare that way. There are certain parts of the game that in my practice rounds over there I emphasize and focus on more so. Putting is obviously No. 1; doesn't matter what tournament it is.
But the greens there are just so different: slower. Pin placements are on much more of an angle because the greens are slower, you know, a slope. So that's where I put my focus in more than anything.
We have wind almost every week so it's not that big of a deal. It's really just getting used to the golf course, sightlines, and then putting.
Q. How aggressive does your mindset have to be at the start of a tournament given it can be pretty low here?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, I think you have to be realistic, right? That's just it. If you get content with just hitting a couple fairways and greens and making a couple putts you're probably going to get passed by.
Aggressive mentality is one thing. I like to play it as almost like a conservative aggressive approach is kind of how I look at it. Maybe that's just my, I don't know, innate being. That's just kind of how I approach it.
I know there are certain pins you can get after and certain pins you probably shouldn't. But it's all about what's in front of you. I think that's the beauty of this track. It does have some teeth if you're overly aggressive and does have some teeth if you're off. That's why we see a separation, too.
The guys that are playing well will rise to the top. The greens are too good every year regardless of humidity or rain, what have you. They're just good.
Q. This is something that you have not had to worry about in forever, but we're coming into the end stretch to get into the FedExCup playoffs. Can you I guess talk to what the pressure they must be under?
ZACH JOHNSON: I mean, I really can't.
Q. Do you have advice I guess is what I am trying to say.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, the way I see it is you just got to approach each week as if it's another week, but also understanding that every shot does matter. I mean, I think it's one of those situations where the more pressure you put on yourself probably the worse it is.
If you just kind of try to bring it down and simplify it and take it for what it is, it's an opportunity. I like the mentality of having my back against the wall. I thrive in that position, you know.
So if they are in that sort of posture, you know what, bow up? It's time to get after it.
Q. What do you do with that trophy for two weeks?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I'm assuming all my teammates, those that have had it, have utilized it in different ways. For me, I mean, I've been around it I guess five times; had it in my possession once.
I requested to have it at two pretty important weeks, or times I guess you would say: My event this past weekend in Cedar Rapids. It made its way to my hometown, to my home club, and that's pretty special. Not too sure that will happen any time soon. I mean, it could. Hope it does again. You never know.
And obviously this week, too. I talked to Clair. My manager Brad talked to Clair actually and said, Hey, you know what? We have it for a while. Would you like to utilize it for your tournament? I guess I kind of take a small piece of ownership in this event, too, so why not, right? So that's the beauty of it.
It should travel. It should make its way around and let people embrace it, especially the winning team's fans, thus America. Because United States won if you're not aware of that.
I just think it has a little bit of weight to it. That's the beauty of it. It actually makes a great ball marker, too. Found that out. It's round on the bottom.
Q. Two majors on your resume. Everyone would think that's one of the greatest things. What did that trophy mean for your career?
ZACH JOHNSON: That's a good question. You know, I've always said -- obviously the individual accolades and tournaments won are probably what people are going to go to first. Whatever. That's fine. I get it. I probably mentally go to that too, at times.
In my sport and in my profession, being associated with these teams, it's probably if not been the most joy-filled times I've ever experienced in this game. There was a number of reasons. I love team sports. I love being in that sort of team chemistry, camaraderie, whatever you want to call it, and the fact that I'm representing my country and my so-called profession. That's not normal. So I relish those opportunities.
Now, to finally win this was beyond special. So personally at some point down the road I am going to look back on it, and, yeah, the Ryder Cup is going to be a major, major part of me, because I'm going to go to it first when I think about what I've done on the golf course.
That's what I'm going to tell my kids and grandkids about. I mean, that's just a fact. It's competition in sport at its purest form. I hope to have many more opportunities both inside the ropes and potentially as some sort of leader, vice captain of some sort, captain. I don't know if that will happen.
I would be the towel guy; make the sandwiches. I don't care. I just want to be a part of those teams. They're so much fun and it's just a highlight every two years.
Q. You mentioned earlier about performing better when you have your back against the wall. Do you feel like you're in this position this year considering where you are on the Ryder Cup list?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean...
Q. And talk about the transition. Where is the state of your game with the changes you made?
ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. I don't know if my back is against the wall right now necessarily. I think if anything, what I see is the first part of this year just hasn't gone the way I anticipated, nor has my team anticipated.
All of the emphasis that we put on in the off-season actually, priorities, goals, have probably somewhat been accomplished or we've made good progress.
So the other aspects have kind of fallen apart. I have not been putting well. That's really what it boils down to. I've got to make more putts. I know what to do. That darn word of "patience" certainly is probably paramount.
That's been my emphasis over the last so many odd weeks is just making some putts and trying to score. My game is fine. Just hasn't surfaced yet.
Yeah, is my back against the wall? I don't know. I don't think I'm quite to that point yet. I think there are still many opportunities out there to have a great year. I could still have one of the best years of my career the way I see it. There is a lot of opportunity out there.
I'm not too concerned about it. I'm just still trying to work and get better. I don't want to get back to where I was; I want to get better, you know?
I feel like I have everything in place to do that. It's just a matter of execution and work.
Q. So with that said, coming back to a place you've had so much success, can that kind of kick start your run here to the end, do you feel?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, it can, yeah. I think it probably has at times; I'm not suggesting it will. Regardless of what my scorecard shows at the end of this week, I think I'm going to get better. Whatever happens, I'm going to take positives from this week.
I'm one that's always whether I make a cut, miss a cut, top 10, win, I mean, I find positives in everything. I think I can do that.
When you miss cuts or don't play well it kind of highlights what you need to work on. I think that's a positive. I mean, that means I know what I need to go do worktime to be better. I can make may practice time that much more efficient and effective.
Every part of my game has a system. When it gets off, I can go back to it. Now I have a great team that helps me get back. Sometimes I don't realize or see it or feel it, but that's why I got a team.
Q. Because you know scores are going to be so low this week, does that change the way you prepare for this week?
ZACH JOHNSON: It hasn't in the past, no. That being said, I've talked to Dr. Mo, my sports psychologist. He was with me this weekend. We've had some short game putting game drills in particular I'm going to emphasize. I have a menu of drills and games that I play to help me prepare each and every week.
Just a matter of which ones I pick off that menu. We pick a couple games that might have more of on aggressive, slash, I guess he would say -- yeah, aggressive mentality/behavior to it. That's kind of what we're going to get to.
Bottom line is with humidity on this golf course and this time of year, the winds are there but they're never that significant this time of year. You feel like you got to shoot a number. I remember we played this tournament in the fall one year. I don't remember what the winning score was, but it was almost half as low, you know, like 10- to 12-under.
This golf course can have that sort of bite. It's just now the ball doesn't roll as much. The greens are receptive because of the heat. I saw the forecast. There are some 90-plus degree days in there. It's going to provide for low numbers.
However, you still got to play. It's like you see a team that's favored by 25 points; you still got to play the game. You never know.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports