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August 9, 2018

Zach Johnson

St. Louis, Missouri

ZACH JOHNSON: Zach Johnson. Today was a very interesting day. Got off to a pretty good start the first few holes. Then I hit on 4 and 5 the worst drives I've hit in I don't know how long and scraped some pars out of them. It was a scrape fest, there grinding it out. Then I started righting the ship. I hit a lot of good shots, I would say, 6 through -- oh, shoot. I mean, pretty much the rest of the round with the exception of my layup shot on 17. A lot of quality shots, and that's what kind of got me to where I was at.

But I had some nice saves in there, and that kept the momentum going, kept the scorecard going, if you will.

Q. How penal was this course?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't -- errant shots, you're going to get penalized. The rough's thick. The fairways are generous or fair. I don't know what your definition would be, but generous enough that they're very fair. Penal enough that, if you mis-hit it, you're going to be in trouble. Bunkers aren't any bargain, fairway or green side, and the rough's substantial.

I think, when it comes down to it, though, it's kind of a hit and stop. So in that regard, it becomes easier, and I don't think it necessarily is a bomber's paradise just because of the way the greens are in particular, and there's no run in the fairway. If I'm hitting a 7 iron in and they're hitting 9s and wedges, I mean, I'm playing three yards of release and they're maybe playing no release. So it's not that significant as far as being that penal.

Q. Standing on the tees, Rory was saying, compared to Akron last week, it's wide open.
ZACH JOHNSON: It's wide open compared to Akron, but everything is.

Q. That's what I was going to say. So coming off Akron, did you sort of feel -- I don't think liberation is the word I would use, but opportunity to maybe really go for it off the tees?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. I don't know. I've always been a pretty accurate driver, so it's not like I'm doing anything different. I'm hitting the ball further than I ever have, which is fun, but also difficult to get used to. Akron's one where you've just got to shape it both ways and hit it solid, and you have to do it here clearly, but you can get away with one or two, and there you cannot.

Q. You get off to a start where you're 4 under, Gary's at 6. You're right there. You've done it before. Do you feel good about your position?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. I mean, I don't -- I certainly can't win it on Thursday, but you can take yourself out of it on Thursday. I mean, I would have felt comfortable with anything under par today. I think anybody that's kind of that 1 over to 1 under is still in the golf tournament. There's no question about that.

Looks like the waves are going to be pretty similar. I mean, you can kind of get blessed with one or the other, but based on the forecast, I don't think it's going to be substantially different. So, yeah, I'm very content with where it is. I'm not a leaderboard watcher on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, so it really doesn't matter.

Q. How much prep did you get on this course? A lot of players didn't have a chance with the weather.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I was told by a man over there, the head pro or somebody mentioned that Phil and I were the only two that came early. I came Monday of Akron and played 18 holes in a cart. That way I could really coast into my practice session Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I didn't do anything Monday. I played nine holes Tuesday, nine holes Wednesday. So I saw 36 holes. So I saw it twice.

I think the key there -- I don't know if it's an advantage, but from a recovery standpoint this week and the fact that it's August and the year's been long and the humidity and the heat, I think it was a wise move. I don't want to say an advantage, but it was a wise move for me so I only had to play 18 holes in a three-day period.

Q. Was it a wise move to move this championship to May?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think it's an indifferent move. I think it's a wise move as far as scheduling, but as far as golf courses, I think it's indifferent. I think what it does is it opens up a lot of courses, you know, St. Louis, Charlotte, and south, which is cool because there's a massive geographic region there that just rarely gets any majors.

Now, there's some on the schedule that are committed in the north, but that's the way commitments go. So I think the positives far outweigh any negatives.

Q. Zach, on that note, what do you think of the crowd?
ZACH JOHNSON: It was great. You know, you can kind of tell these people are golf thirsty. Probably Budweiser thirsty or Anheuser Busch, whatever you call it. But, no, they were terrific. And I had -- I don't know where they're from, but it seemed like a pretty massive contingent from Iowa because it's barely north of here, and my guess is a bunch of Iowans in this area because it's a great town.

It's a sport crazy town. This is Cardinal Blue country, formerly Ram country. But terrific. You can tell they love their golf and they love the fact that we're here.

Q. As crazy a Thursday as you've ever played?

Q. No? You've played a few crazy Thursdays?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes. Phoenix. There's maybe a couple others.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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