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March 13, 2019

Dustin Johnson

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We have Dustin Johnson with us this afternoon. Welcome back to the PLAYERS Championship, your 11th appearance here at TPC Sawgrass with a best finish of T12 in 2017. Just some opening comments about being back here in a slightly different date in March.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I think it's -- I think we got a great date. I like the change to the course playing it overseeded. I think that it's going to look a lot better on TV. I think for me it -- I seem to like it better. I can, I don't know, I just like the way the course feels playing it this time of year, playing it overseeded. I think it plays a little bit better as far as it's playing longer, it's a little bit softer, but you got to hit really good golf shots.

For me playing in May in the last few years I've always struggled, I kind of struggled around here, never really could get it going, but you know, the course played really fast and firm, and now it just seems like it's definitely a lot more receptive, but it's still going to play difficult just because of the length and especially with the forecast with the wind. It's supposed to be -- the wind's supposed to blow a little bit and I think it's going to set up for a great week.

THE MODERATOR: Arriving here on the back of a recent win in Mexico for your 20th PGA TOUR victory, you must be feeling confident about the week ahead.

DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, had a really nice couple weeks off, just was at home, practiced a little bit and then came up here on Tuesday, yesterday, but, yeah, the game's been in good form, hopefully I can continue the good form for the next few months and but I feel very confident right now with the golf game and kind of with all aspects of it.

THE MODERATOR: Let's take some questions.

Q. How would you sum up your first 10 trips here? Would you call it frustrating? Would you call it surprising? Obviously not having a top-10 here, that's surprising, given your track record everywhere else, really.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I don't know, just this is a golf course I felt like a few times I played well around here, it's just couldn't ever get anything going. I feel like it was hard to read the greens. It's hard for me to -- I don't know, I struggle with everything. Just judging the distance, ball's going miles and would never stop in the fairways. I feel like good shots weren't always rewarded, just with the way the course was playing. But yeah, I just struggled. It was frustrating too.

Q. How much of it is the course itself, the fact that it just doesn't lend itself to one particular style, that basically anybody in the field can win here every year?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, I think that was -- playing it how we did, where it was just straight Bermuda, it was always really firm and fast, I think it was -- yeah, I mean it kind of brought the whole field into play, but that's just how it was and how it played and the short Bermuda rough was really difficult to judge and now the course plays completely different. It's softer, it's longer, the rough's a little bit deeper but it's still playable. It's not, by any means is it too deep or anything. But you still need to drive it in the fairway. But the fairways get wider too when it gets softer. But like I said, it plays longer, but I think it's in perfect condition and it definitely sets up better for me like this.

Q. I think it was Justin yesterday, and a lot of guys have been saying that their clubbing into holes has been dramatically different. Justin said he has been hitting 2-iron, 9-iron into 18. In a practice round he hit like driver, 6-iron. Do you have any examples in your practice round where you really hit some different clubs?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean every hole's different, really. It's not -- yeah, I've hit, in the past on 18 I've hit 3-iron and a wedge on 18 or 3-iron, 9-iron. Today it was helping wind, but I hit driver, wedge. But it was, but that's with help. And even like 11 was kind of left-to-right with a little bit of help today. I hit a really good drive and it wouldn't even have reached the left bunker, and generally on that hole if I hit it down the left side it's in the bunker, even if it's down the fairway. So a lot of different lines off the tee and then clubs into the greens are definitely a lot longer. But the greens are receptive and you can hit longer clubs in, and still, if you hit a good shot it's going to end up close to the hole.

Q. The calendar change means it's the start of five months of huge, high-profile golf events. From a player's perspective, what's the biggest challenge to try and keep on top your game for that period of time?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean you got to just, you know you got a big stretch, starting with this week, we have a lot of huge golf tournaments, so you want to keep your game in good form from kind of now through the end of the year or through the end of the season. It doesn't really let up and it doesn't really give you a chance to kind of take a break, but I like it, I like the way the schedule is. I think it's going to be a good year, and then for your game you just got to -- hopefully you're in good form.

Q. It's the unofficial fifth major it's been dubbed as; would you like to see the unofficial removed and perhaps have five majors?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean it would -- I think it would fit. I mean this is, it's our biggest tournament. It's got one of the best fields of all the tournaments and, yeah, I mean it's -- I think all the players look at it as a major.

Q. Do you think that this place is to your advantage having these conditions because you can hit it a long way, but you're not rolling out with your shots, you're not rolling into trouble with the overseed versus in May? So you can be down the fairway or whatever farther than the competition and you're still in good shape, you're not in trouble?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I mean, the golf, it just plays different. Any golf course you play, if you play it when it's -- I mean the course was really fast Bermuda green, fairways, greens, everything. And then when you overseed it's always going to be softer. But -- and greens are going to be softer, more receptive. Where in May, if you were hitting a 6-iron, you're probably trying to land it short of the green, unless it was into the wind. Where now you can, I feel like good shots you get rewarded for, where in years past even hitting good shots a lot of times you weren't rewarded for them, where they would end up in a bad spot or a tough place to make par, where now I feel like if you hit a good quality golf shot it's going to end up close to the hole.

Q. I understand you had some success down this way when you were in college I think playing across the street at TPC Sawgrass or the Sawgrass course. Do you remember anything about that?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I remember playing over there in college. I do. I think I played okay. I can't remember too well. It was a tough golf course though.

Q. You had three Top-5's and I think it was similar windy conditions to this time of year.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah. I mean it was, we played this time of year, I mean I remember and that course is is tough from what I remember.

Q. Do you have anything out on TOUR that would compare to this in terms of setup and how you guys are preparing for this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I prepare for this week just like I do every other week that I play. Every event I play in is a big event and they're all very important to me, so I prepare the same way for all of them.

Q. You've had some really good stretches at various points in your career. I'm curious, how would you rate your current form now versus those? Do you feel like you're fairly comparable to those hot stretches that you had recently?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I feel like the game right now is as close as it is, as I guess it can be to where it was in 2017. I feel like the shot patterns are the same and my strike, the swing feels the same, it's the best it's felt since then and obviously my play reflects that a little bit, but still got a lot of work to do, still got a lot of room for improvement, but it's the most comfortable I've felt over the ball in a long time.

Q. What's the one, is there one particular area that you're trying to work on right now?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: All of them. They can all get better.

Q. I'm looking ahead to Augusta a little bit, and have you played the course up there yet, any practice rounds?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I've not. I'll go up the week before for a couple days most likely.

Q. And just talk a little bit about how important that is to maybe get a win there at some point in your career.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, yeah, I mean I'll take a win at any major, they're all very important. But, yeah, definitely I would love to win there. But this week I'll focus on this tournament.

THE MODERATOR: Dustin, thanks very much for coming in and all the best this week.

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