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January 11, 2018
Q. Zach, bogey free, 63. Well done. Good round. What a start. 1, 2, 3 -- what happened out of the gate there?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it was, I guess, the start you visualize, right? I mean, I put myself in position to make birdies. I mean, I made a putt on 3 that you probably don't expect, but it was whatever it was, 22 feet probably. But I hit good shots on 1 and 2. That was good momentum.
And then after that, I think I missed two greens, missed a couple fairways, nothing significant. Just kept the course in front of me and played solid golf, missed it on the proper side. You know, made a few putts, missed a few putts. But I'm very encouraged with the direction.
Q. Most of the players commenting on how good the greens are. Also some of them commenting on how tough the lines are off the tee here. Do you find that, or does it set up good for you?
ZACH JOHNSON: It's always been that way. That's Waialae. It's no different. I mean, some of the younger guys probably haven't seen it, but the course used to be even tighter. The 1st fairway has gotten a little bit wider, specifically on the left. 12th fairway is much wider, and maybe even one or two more. But that being said, wider here is still very, very narrow.
So it's hard. Any wind direction change, I don't care what degree change that is, can dictate your start line and certainly where you want it to end up because it is that narrow and it's that firm. You hit a decent drive here, it can't not go 300 when there's help. So it makes for -- Waialae, you've got to think your way around it.
Q. Veteran savvy, well done, 63. Good luck the rest of the way.
ZACH JOHNSON: Thanks.
Q. What is it about this place when you show up that you just kind of seem to -- not to say know your way around, but it just seems that you play well here?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I had a stretch there, whatever it was, 10, 12 years ago, where I felt really, really good every time I set foot on it, and then I had a lull. It was one of those where I probably took it for granted. I know what I need to focus on before I get here, aside from the obvious putting. And I just feel like it just fits me. I don't have to change my game or manipulate my thought process on attacking this place. Days like this, where the ground's firm, I mean, I had a lot of loft in my hands. I hit some 5 irons on some par 3s. But other than that, that's about it.
I just feel good, you know, when I set up. And any sort of confidence at a place can certainly breed momentum. So hopefully I'll continue it. It's just one day, but I like where I'm at.
Q. Clearly, obviously, you've had a good day, all birdies. No stress out there?
ZACH JOHNSON: No. I mean, the one hole I probably had a little bit of stress was probably on 13. I pushed my drive, hit it in the bunker, which I knew wasn't that big of a deal. It was an awkward shot. I had to cut -- actually, I had to cut a hybrid, which is not an easy shot for me, and I cut it to 25 feet and made it -- or 20 feet and made it. I was trying to make a par, and I made that.
Other than that, it was very, very, very low stress, a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. I honestly think -- I putted it on 8 on the fringe, missed the green on 11. I think I missed two greens.
Q. So obviously, like you said, no stress. Last year we had like, obviously, a record score. Wind's up a little bit more, playing a little bit tougher than previous years?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, wind's up, a little bit tougher for sure. The couple of greens that they've redone have made it much more difficult, specifically, 6 and 17. And 11. Sorry, 11 was done last year. It sounds like they're going to keep doing that, which is unfortunate, in my opinion, because the course was really, really good to begin with. But it is a members golf course, and that's the priority. So no big deal there. Just a little more wind probably than last year.
Q. Why do you specifically love it here?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it just fits my game. This is a course that you've just got to keep it in front of you. You can't -- outside of a couple tee shots, if you can really mull it, you can't really force it. And I'm familiar with the greens. I like a good Bermuda like this. You have to hit it straight. I mean, if you hit it in the rough, it's just hard to control shots, and it's hard to get it close.
Q. You had a half decent fall.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, saw some really nice improvements there, yeah.
Q. How did it go with the time off? Did you want the time off? Did you need the time off?
ZACH JOHNSON: Time off for me, it's a great marriage. I played the Shark Shootout, put the clubs up. I did one thing with my mental coach for a day. I played 18 holes. It was freezing, got nothing out of that. And then we did a three-hour work session that afternoon. That was the Wednesday after Christmas. Three-hour session, a lot of short game.
I got sick. That was the 27th. Went to the doctor on the 28th, the flu. I was in bed. I left the house six days later for the first time. We were supposed to come here -- that was on a Wednesday. We were supposed to come on the Tuesday of last week, so a week and a half ago. Wanted to go to the Big Island. I was going to go see a friend there. He came here instead. And I was not right getting on the plane to come here.
Q. So this is unexpected in some way then?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, probably more than expected. But I mean, I've had many weeks where I'm rested from a mental standpoint, certainly a physical standpoint, where I play great. I mean, I remember a couple of times I've had a couple ski trips and I come back the next week, didn't even touch a club, and I start preparing on the golf course, and I play great. I don't necessarily win, but I play great. I know it can happen.
I am one that likes to prepare. But I got here Friday, and I touched a golf club Saturday through Wednesday. Saturday was awful. It was about a two-hour session, and it was probably -- or three-hour session. It was at least two hours too many because I was not right.
Q. Just the flu you say?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. Legs were shot. Back hurt. Sunday was a little bit better. Monday was a little bit better. And then Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm like, oh, okay, this is normal.
Q. So you're getting your confidence back? Because you wouldn't want to waste this week given that you love it so much, you know what I mean?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, but I'm also trying to -- it's just one week. But it's also nice to get off to a good start.
Q. Does it help to take the expectations off of yourself a little bit?
ZACH JOHNSON: I mean, I think I'm at the point now where I understand having great expectations or really poor expectations, it's almost futile. It doesn't matter. I mean, there's so many examples both directions that I can give you that I've had in my career. Yeah, I'd like to just go play and see what happens.
Q. With the success you've had here over the years, how much do you just look forward to this week?
ZACH JOHNSON: It's one of my favorite weeks. One of my favorite weeks on tour. It's great for the family. We stay right here. The kids love it. Obviously, I love the golf course. It's one of those old hidden gems, as far as I'm concerned. As long as they don't mess it up too much.
Q. Not a fan of some of the changes?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm not very fond of the changes, but there's not a player in the field that would say otherwise. If they did, they're lying. 100 percent, they're lying. Not the rookies, but if they've seen it. And you know, having mild success at a place, that just gives you a little bit of confidence, and certainly that helps. So I just love starting the year here. It's hard not to come here.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports