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June 12, 2018
Southampton, New York
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome again to the 2018 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
It's my pleasure to introduce this afternoon 2016 U.S. Open winner, Dustin Johnson. Dustin is here playing in his 11th U.S. Open with four top ten finishes, including that 2016 win at Oakmont Country Club.
Dustin, does it still sink in and still hit you to hear 2016 U.S. Open champion? Does it still resonate when you come here this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely. That never gets old, hearing that. It was a special victory, and it always will be.
THE MODERATOR: And coming in, playing very, very well this week, you won last week with a spectacular finish on 18, a hole-out eagle at the FedEx St. Jude. Obviously has to feel good, coming in playing so well.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: The game, I've got a lot of confidence in my game right now. I feel like everything's working pretty well. Finishing with a hole-out on the last was definitely special, and it was a cool way to end the day.
THE MODERATOR: Excellent. Can you give me a few initial thoughts on coming to Shinnecock and your impressions of the course, having been out a few times now?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: My first time playing it was yesterday. I really enjoyed the golf course. I think, you know, it's a fantastic venue. You know, it's going to be -- it's a tough -- it's all about the second shot, you know.
You really got to hit good, good quality, you know, second shots into these greens. You know, some of the greens are big, but they're still the areas, the surface area where you want to hit your ball is small. So you got to hit good golf shots. If you miss it in the wrong spot, I mean, you have a very, very tough time getting it up and down.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it to questions.
Q. If I were to ask you a question of what part of the game must be completely perfect this week, the USGA would want the answer to be everything. But if you narrowed it to one, it would be?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Irons. I think you've really got to hit good iron shots this week.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Why? Just --
Q. Why that over everything else?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, I feel like the fairways are fairly generous. If you miss the fairways, though, you're going to be in trouble.
The fairways are fairly generous, and then -- you know, the course is pretty long. You don't really get too many wedge shots. So, you know, kind of the -- I feel like I hit a lot of mid irons and even a couple long irons into some of these holes, depending on the wind. And then I feel like all four of the par 3s are difficult.
Q. Dustin, you're No. 1 in the world. Justin Thomas is No. 2. You're also 1 and 2 in the FedExCup right now. I just wanted you to indulge me. Could you tell me the way you two are the most alike, the most similar thing, and the most difference between the two of you as well.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I have no idea. I really don't. You probably have a better idea than me.
Q. Maybe, but I was hoping you'd throw something out there.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: We're both very good golfers. Our height.
THE MODERATOR: As we've had a few players come in this week, there's obviously been a great conversation about the distance and the changes over the course in the last 14 years. Did you feel that yesterday? How much of an advantage might -- your distance off the tee might be an advantage here.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I can hit driver on a lot of holes, so it's definitely an advantage if I can hit it in the fairway, you know.
But as far as how the course played the last time I was here, 14 years ago, you know, I wasn't here, and the first time I saw the course was yesterday. So to me, the course played exactly how it should. I haven't seen it any other way.
I like the way it is right now. I think it's set up great. You know, as the course gets firmer and faster, it's just going to get tougher. So I'm looking forward to that.
Q. In your own mind, Dustin, what's the importance of getting the second Major? There's a ton of you guys who have picked up your first, whether it's Jason or Adam, Sergio, big long list. What's the urgency or the importance of getting number two? Do you think it's harder than getting number one?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, for me, I think it's -- well, it's hard to get number two right now, but it was hard to get number one. But I think it's hard to get any of them. You know, it's just a tough task. There's only four Majors, and, you know, to win a Major, you have to have everything working very well. You've got to play really good all four rounds.
Q. Jordan made the point, when you win a Major, you're a Major champion for life. But is there any sense of validation by winning a second one? Does it kind of put you at a different level, do you think, in other people's eyes?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, maybe now that I've got my first one, yeah. I'd love to get that second one, but it's one of those things where, like I said, everything's got to work well for four days.
I feel like right now, my game's in very good shape. I feel like I got a lot of confidence in it, and I feel like I can play this golf course well. And then, you know, it definitely would be awesome to get my second Major.
Q. Did you see it before yesterday?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No.
Q. D.J., how are you?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Good.
Q. Given this fresh look at the golf course and given your form and given your understanding of what a USGA test is like, how important is it for you to develop a strategy for this course? And can you give us any hint as to how you plan on playing this course?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: You get in the fairway off the tee. I mean, that's pretty much everywhere you play. But yeah, I mean, I feel like, you know, the golf course is pretty much kind of right in front of you. There's a few holes where you have some options, you know, if you want to lay it back or hit it down there, you can. But, you know, wherever you're comfortable with getting it in the fairway. For me, coming into these greens, picking the right shot and hitting it the right distance, really.
They're big greens, but there's small landing areas where, you know, if you want the ball to stay on the green. And, you know, right now the greens are fairly receptive. You know, you can hold them, but if it gets a little bit firmer, it's just going to get that much more difficult.
Q. Why is it more important for you to play the week before leading into this event? Why do you think no one has won the PGA Tour event directly before the U.S. Open and gone on to win the U.S. Open?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't know. I really don't know that question. But for me, I just was -- I haven't played that much in the last couple months. So that's why I wanted to get that -- you know, get an extra tournament in before the U.S. Open. I felt like it would prepare me better for this week than, you know, if I was at home just practicing. I wanted to keep my game sharp.
I felt like at the Memorial it was really good. It's been good for the last couple months. I just wasn't getting a whole lot out of it. So that's why I wanted to keep playing, and I felt like it was close, and, you know, that's why I decided to go to Memphis and play. I think it was a pretty good decision.
Q. What does that do for your confidence tangibly? What is it specifically that's going to help you this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, any time you go and you win a PGA Tour event, it gives you a lot of confidence. You know, it kind of just lets me know the things that I'm doing, the things I'm working on are working and to, you know, just keep doing those things.
Q. Dustin, you said last week that you always show up expecting to win. But did winning last week and doing so in the style that you did, holing out on the last hole, returning to world No. 1, does any of that increase the sense of pressure that you feel or expectation for this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No. I mean, if anything, it takes pressure off of me just because, you know, I played well last week. You know, I had a lot on the line on Sunday. I knew it. I knew if I go out and win the golf tournament, I go back to No. 1.
To go out and play the way I did, you know, especially on the back nine was definitely a big confidence boost for me coming into this week.
Q. Dustin, what goes through your mind as a long hitter when you hear people argue that you hit the ball too far and that they need to change the golf ball as a result because people have gotten too good at driving it long?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I tell them to go out and watch a golf tournament. Because I don't think I hit it too far. Yeah, there's occasions where you get downwind, you know, downhill on a firm ground and the ball goes a long way, but, you know, walk around here. When you got a ball straight into the wind, the ball ain't going that far.
I don't feel like I -- I mean, I definitely don't hit it too far, and I definitely don't make the -- the game is not easy, that's for sure. But I don't know what to say to those guys, except maybe go watch some golf shots.
Q. Dustin, I just wanted to know your thoughts on being paired with Tiger and Justin and probably be the most watched group on Thursday. What are your thoughts on being paired with them?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I like it. I think it's going to be fun. I like playing with J.T. I like playing with Tiger. We'll have a big gallery out there. It will be a lot of fun on Thursday afternoon when we tee it up.
Q. Just to follow up a little bit, do you feel your overall game is not given proper respect and there's all this talk about your distance, your distance? Overall game is overlooked sometimes?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think my game gets enough respect. As far as I'm concerned, it does. I think it's good. That's all that matters, right?
Q. Two very different questions. One of which, I wonder if you've just heard in conversation, practice rounds and what have you, that we're back at Shinnecock (no microphone) because people talk a bunch about Erin Hills being so (no microphone). Do you know what I mean by that?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, probably not. Just because I guess they talk. You know, just the way they talk about the golf course. But, I mean, I missed the cut there. As everyone says, it was a golf course for long hitters and good drivers, but for me it wasn't. I thought the golf course was hard, and those guys played the golf course very well.
But, you know, some golf courses that I think may be not that hard, other people think are very hard. It's all about how it sets up for you. Yeah, he definitely doesn't get enough credit.
Q. Secondly, it was nice to see some putts go in last week, I presume. You still had a share that you probably missed that you thought you should have made. How many of those are you supposed to make? Like in your mind, if you're playing reasonably well -- and let's take like a 12-foot putt. How many of those do you feel like you should make during a round for it to be a good putting round?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: If I had 18 12-footers?
Q. Let's say you had ten 12-footers.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, if you're playing, well probably seven.
Q. Do you ever find yourself thinking about the ones you didn't make and forgetting about the ones you did?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No. I try to focus more on if I'm hitting them where I want to. Whether they go in or not, I try not to worry about that. If I hit good putts where I want to hit them, I'm happy with it.
Q. Not to wear you down on this. But from Kapalua on until last week, did you feel like you were hitting them good? If you did, was it getting frustrating at all?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, it was definitely getting frustrating because I felt like I was hitting a lot of good putts that weren't going in the hole, and I was also hitting a lot of bad putts that had no chance of going in the hole. Frustrating. Very frustrating.
Q. With that frustration, how big of an advantage is it at a U.S. Open to put that frustration behind you and still keep going on to the next shot when you know there's going to be bad breaks and bad bounces and bad swings out here?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, for me, it's not -- it's pretty easy because I'm used to it. So I just keep going. I try not to ever worry about what I've just done. Still got to play, usually a lot more holes. So go find your ball and hit it again.
Q. Dustin, I was just curious, as you're actually moving through a shot, is your mind on where the ball is going, or is your mind on something in your swing?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: That's a good question because I have no idea. Hopefully, it's not really doing anything. I'm thinking about the number I want to hit it and where I want to start it, what kind of shot I want to hit. But when I'm actually hitting it, I'm not really thinking about anything. Never really thought about it, though.
THE MODERATOR: Don't start.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I'm not going to.
Q. D.J., so after losing the No. 1 ranking for a while, were you fueled to get back on top? And then now that you're back, are you fueled to stay on top?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a spot where all golfers want to be. It's definitely a spot where I want to be. So it's motivation to keep me working hard and keep doing the things I'm doing.
Q. Have you heard the traffic story this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I have. Luckily, I'm the other way. I've heard nightmare stories already. Fortunately, I'm staying where we don't have a lot of traffic.
Q. (No microphone).
DUSTIN JOHNSON: None.
Q. Why not?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I've got a nice house we're staying in this week.
Q. Dustin, what's your feeling about the notion of backstopping? Would you ever not mark your ball to help another guy?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't know if I understand.
Q. Probably didn't explain it well. Jimmy Walker was talking the other day about backstopping. It's a new term to me. But evidently it refers to if a guy goes to mark his ball, the other guy's still coming up.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: For me, I always, if a ball's remotely close to my line, I have them mark it. So I don't know. I've always done it. If it's out of my way, I'll leave it there. But if it's remotely around where I'm hitting it, I'll have them mark it.
THE MODERATOR: Dustin, great to have you with us today. Thanks so much. We wish you well throughout the week.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports