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August 8, 2017
Charlotte, North Carolina
JOHN DEVER: Welcome to the 99th PGA Championship. Please to be joined by World No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Dustin, welcome. You're kind of born, raised, educated in the Carolinas, nearby. First of all, Dutch Fork High School. What's your nickname?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Silver Foxes.
JOHN DEVER: Good to know. We'll write that down. Is it good to be back somewhat on your home turf this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, obviously, I grew up about an hour down the road. For this week, my family will be up watching, supporting me. Got a lot of fans in this area and then obviously Columbia is not that long of a drive.
Yeah, I mean, it's kind of a home game for me, so it's nice.
JOHN DEVER: Early impressions of the golf course? It's a little bit different than last time you were here.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I haven't played here in quite a few years, but played the front nine yesterday.
The golf course, I really like the changes. I think it's in fantastic condition. Greens are perfect. Fairways are perfect. Obviously, with the rain, it's a little bit wet but it's going to play long.
I like it. I like the way it's set up. I like the holes. I'm excited about the Championship.
Q. Obviously from right down the road, what are your thoughts on Charlotte as a host city for a major championship for the first time, and what are some of your experiences in the city in the past that you are fond of?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think Charlotte is a great city to host this championship. They always did a great job when they had the Wells Fargo here. It's a great golf course, great venue. We get a lot of support out here during the event.
I think this week, you know, being a major championship here at Quail Hollow, the crowds are going to be enormous. Even yesterday, there was a ton of people out following us in the practice rounds. So I think it's going to be an exciting week and the golf course is in perfect condition. So I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
Q. Do you have to fight a sense of impatience this week, just given the way that your year has panned out, particularly after starting it in such encouraging fashion?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Not really. I've been working hard on the game. I feel like it's finally coming back into form.
Last week I had a nice weekend. I felt like I got some things worked out in the swing that were just holding me back a little bit. Right now, I feel it's close to when I was playing really well before Augusta than I have, and you know, since then.
The golf swing's there. I feel good. My body feels great. I'm looking for a really good week this week.
Q. You looked unbeatable early this year. Just how frustrating was it to have the injury and not be at 100 percent, and what is going to be the key for you this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, obviously it's really frustrating. But things happen. You've just got to deal with them, and you know, I feel like the golf game's in really good shape right now. You know, I played really good on Sunday. Had a good practice session yesterday. Played nine holes. Feel like I'm driving it really well again.
Yeah, it is frustrating what happened when I was playing so well, but there's nothing I can do about that. Things happen, and so now I've just got to fight and practice and work hard to get back to where I was.
You know, I feel like it's really close to being back to how good it was before the Masters.
Q. Obviously they have made some changes to the course relative to the way that it's played recently with Wells Fargo. Just wonder what you thought of those changes, and any sense of how that might change the nature of this event, the way it's played out, versus the way we're used to seeing Wells Fargo played out?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, I think the last time I played was probably five years ago. So I haven't played since they made any of the changes to the course.
Yesterday was the first day I played. I played the front nine. You know, I really like the changes. I feel like it's -- obviously they made it harder, which I like; it's longer. But the golf course, it's in fantastic condition.
You know, perfect greens, perfect fairways. I really do like the changes so far.
Q. You've been No. 1 in the world the last 25 straight weeks. Who are some of the players that you're looking over your shoulder seeing coming up, and specifically Hideki Matsuyama after his huge win on Sunday at Firestone?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, well, all the guys that are behind me, I'm looking over my shoulder at. Yeah, Hideki is a great player. Obviously Jordan is a great player, winning the British a couple weeks ago.
But all the guys that are up there are very good players. Obviously they are in really good form right now, so they are going to be tough to beat this week. But I feel like my game's coming around and it's getting in really good shape and perfect timing for the end of the year. We've got a lot of big tournaments, including this one.
I'm excited about this week and the rest of the year.
Q. Could you describe how you were feeling going into Augusta on that run that you were on, and just where your confidence level was? I think the outside perception was when you went into Augusta, that nobody could beat you. Did you feel that way entering that stretch, that tournament?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, obviously I had a lot of confidence. I'd just won three big events in a row, and yeah, I mean, I was playing as good of golf as I've ever played, and consistently every day.
So, I mean, yeah, I was as good as I ever felt and confidence probably as high as it's ever been. But like I said, things happen. Just when you feel like you get on top, something happens that knocks you down.
But I'm fighting back right now and I feel like the game's as good as it was, you know, before then. I'm going to continue to work hard on it and hopefully we're going to have a good week. I'll be there on Sunday.
Q. Talking about the importance of a good caddie; what for you -- a good caddie, what does he bring to the table? What are the key factors in terms of the importance of the mental aspect to you as player?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, obviously everyone is going to be different in that aspect. But for me, I mean, obviously having my brother on the bag is big for me. He's my best friend. So you know, having my brother there, we spend a lot of time with our caddie. So someone you enjoy being around.
And then, you know, someone that's going to give you confidence in what you're doing, whether he agrees with you or not. Obviously the player is ultimately going to make the decision. Just making sure he's giving you confidence in whatever you're doing.
Q. Is this the first time you've ever done a press conference in shorts? Do you think it gives you confidence in your public speaking, and what are your overall thoughts on it?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, it is nice to wear shorts out here for practice rounds. Hopefully we can do this a little bit more.
But no, it doesn't give me any confidence. I don't even know how to answer that (laughter) (smiling).
Q. Can you pinpoint what you were doing prior to the Masters that you're not doing now? And secondly, why have you played so sporadically or so little here at Quail Hollow?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, just scheduling for me is why I haven't played that much here lately.
And then if I could pinpoint that, then I wouldn't have been struggling the last few weeks. But it's getting -- like I said, I feel I've got a lot of confidence in the game right now and what I'm doing. It's close to being as good as it was as I've been in a long time.
Q. The weather forecast looks horrendous. We might well be here till next Thursday to get this finished. Do you enjoy playing in these conditions, and what do you do, if you're not out there to keep your mind busy, if the rain is that bad?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, with two kids, you don't really have a choice. You stay busy. I don't really have to do anything.
But yeah, I mean, it looks like it could be a long week. But never know. The weather in this part of the world, it could say it's going to thunderstorm all day and it might be sunny. You never know with the weather. Hopefully it's going to be all right and we'll get it all done. But it could be a long week, and I'm prepared for it and ready for it.
Q. The announcement has not been officially made yet, but what effect would moving the PGA Championship to May have on a player and what ripple effect do you see?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't think it makes any difference when they host this event. It's going to be -- I actually kind of like the changes they are going to make. It's going to kind of space everything out a little bit more instead of it all being kind of crammed together. So it gives you a little bit more time to prepare.
You know, what they are trying to do is kind of space everything out. They are going to have THE PLAYERS, Augusta, PGA, U.S. Open, British. So it will be nice to have that time to prepare for each event.
Q. Branden Grace recently shot a record 62 at The Open Championship. Can you describe what it felt like during your best round ever?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: What it feels like when you're playing good? I don't know. It feels the same as every other day. Just more putts are going in the hole. I mean, I don't know. Obviously it's nice when you know every shot's going where you're looking. But I feel like that every time I'm over the ball. It just doesn't always happen.
Q. Can you talk about what Jordan Spieth has been doing at his age and the fact that he's going for a career Grand Slam? Can you imagine what going for a career slam would be like?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, he just won the British. So yeah, if he happens to win this one, then he'd have a career Grand Slam. Obviously that's a great feat in itself, especially as young as he is. But he's a very talented player, very good player and, you know, he's going to continue to be a very good player for a long time.
Q. Going back to your caddie, Austin, has his role evolved since he first came on the bag with you full-time?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, yeah. I mean, obviously he's been out here for a lot longer now. So he's learning the golf courses more. He's starting to read the greens a lot better. He knows me, my golf game -- obviously doesn't know me any better, but he knows my golf game better.
So yeah, you know, usually the days that I'm having to rely on him, it's not a good day and things aren't going right. But I do have him there if I need him, which is good to know.
Q. Would you like to see a new schedule have bonafide downtime in it or are you okay just with everyone carving out their downtime when they need it?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I don't really get a choice in the matter. But yeah, I would like to have an off-season, if that's what you're asking.
Q. Can you describe what it's like to come to a finishing stretch like they have here where it's arguably three of the toughest holes right in a row to finish a tournament?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, you have just got to hit good shots. They are tough golf holes. We play tough holes all the time. But yeah, I mean, having three tough finishing holes in a major, you know, you know that most likely it's going to come down to those last three holes. Having a good game plan, a good strategy, and executing obviously is going to be the big key.
Q. Your to-go shot is a cut. If you have a pin on the left, will you try to hook it in or will you trust your to-go shot and try to cut it in?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: It just all depends. There's a lot of factors that come into that: wind, club. But unless I have to hook it in there, I'm not going to do it. I mean, I can, but if it's -- obviously if the wind is off the right or something, it's going to help me draw it.
And again, depending on the club. If it's a 3-iron, no, I'm not going to try to do that. I'm just going to try to hit it in the middle of the green. But with a wedge or something, shorter clubs, yes, I would try to draw it in there.
Q. Charlotte is not in South Carolina, but it's pretty darned close. Do you consider this a homecoming of sorts, and does that make your life easier this week or harder this week or neither?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Neither. But yeah, I consider it kind of home. It's only an hour away where I grew up. So it's nice.
Q. Any ticket requests?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: A few.
Q. Given the amount of time you didn't swing a club from the April range, is it safe to say that it felt like starting over? And if it did, did you have to get the long game in order first before you spent time on the short game?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, yes, but I probably did it in the wrong order. After taking time off, obviously your short game, you lose a little feel, a little touch. But if I would have just been working on that, then my long game wouldn't have had to have been as -- wouldn't have needed to be as good, because then I could get up-and-down.
When you get an injury, it's tough to say what to do first or how to work back into it. But I did spend a lot of time on wedges and things but I never felt like my wedges were -- I lost any control with the wedges.
The problem was, I wasn't driving it very well, so I just didn't get many opportunities to hit wedge from the fairway. But I feel like the driver is going very well now. I feel like I've got a lot of control over it. I feel like I'm hitting good shots with it. They are going where I'm looking. I think this is going to be a very good week.
Q. If you were at a 10 after you won Match Play, or 9, just to give some growing room there. Where were you when you came back, if you were to grade yourself from that level?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: 3 -- it wasn't that good, but then it went down and got worse after that. But I feel like I'm about an 8 1/2 right now.
Q. It's been a few years since Whistling Straits, but do you think this tournament may still owe you one and you maybe have already earned a PGA Championship?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, I didn't earn anything yet, and no, I don't think it owes me one. It was my fault. I grounded a club in what they still say is a bunker (laughter).
But obviously, it's a major championship. It's a tournament that I would definitely like to win, and I feel like this is -- no better week than this one.
Q. At Augusta, watching you hit balls on the range, at what point did you realize you wouldn't be able to continue?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I think I knew before I even went. I was just trying my hardest because I wanted to play so badly.
JOHN DEVER: World No. 1, Dustin Johnson. Thank you, sir.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports