August 6, 2020
San Francisco, California, USA
Harding Park Golf Club
JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to the 2020 PGA Championship. Pleased to be joined by Zach Johnson.
Zach, you opened with a 4-under 66 today. Perhaps you could tell us about how you're feeling and how your round went.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, obviously I feel okay. I had a really good session -- I just got better as the week went on, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Yesterday was really good. Started to really hit a lot of fairways yesterday, and then my speed with my putter became -- well, just better from the previous two days. And then it kind of led into today.
I've been wedging it a lot. I think that's probably what we -- I feel like this is a course where you've got to get the ball in the fairway, and the driver for me is important, and then obviously after that it's around the greens chipping, and obviously making putts.
Today I putted great. Even some of the putts I missed today looked really good. Pretty solid. There wasn't anything overly flashy, just solid.
Q. I was going to ask you about the finish of the front nine. You played great out of the gates and then --
ZACH JOHNSON: The back, my front.
Q. Best you've putted since when?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, that was really good. I hit some shots close and then obviously started to make some putts and the confidence came. The greens just seem to be a little bit faster today. Granted, as the week goes on they should get faster.
My speed, if anything, I was leaving them short in my practice rounds, and if I thought about, oh, man, don't leave it short, then you knock it way by. It just felt like the speed was where it should be today.
But I putted great. It didn't matter if I made it or missed it. I think I maybe had two two-putts on the back if I'm not mistaken, maybe one. A couple fringes, a couple easy chips, but I just gave myself opportunities for the most part.
I've been putting well, I just haven't seen it on my scorecard.
Q. Obviously different conditions. When you look back at Monday and Tuesday, could you have imagined the leaderboard would look like it does now with as many red numbers?
ZACH JOHNSON: No. I mean, I remember I played nine holes Monday afternoon, and it was warm. I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, and so I'm like, well, this is gettable, that kind of thing. The greens were slow.
And then Tuesday came along and I played kind of late morning and played the back, and I'm like, this is one of the hardest golf courses I've ever played with that wind. It's entirely at this point wind-based. And obviously if you have a marine layer, it becomes even longer.
It's not gettable, but it was gettable today. With minimal winds and obviously decent temperatures, this is what I remember this course playing the three other times I competed here. This is kind of how I remember it. It's a little longer, but this is how I remember it.
Q. How strange is it in a major to have such quiet out there? I imagine there's a little more intensity in a major --
ZACH JOHNSON: I mean, the intensity shouldn't be any different. I don't feel, like, inward I'm that much more intense. I just feel like in a major you can't get ahead of yourself, and this is a venue where it's very difficult to get ahead of yourself.
Some tournaments -- even if they're difficult, it's easy to get ahead of yourself because you're always thinking about the next hole or the next nine, whatever it may be at times, and this place you can't do that. Every shot is so -- well, I mean, it's demanding, and that's great. It's fair, it's just demanding.
I don't think my intensity was any different than any other week. It's just I'm just trying to stay right here.
Q. You mentioned it was longer than you remember from your previous visits; previous tournaments obviously weren't majors. Does it feel like a major venue?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, yeah. Oh, without question it feels like a major venue. As Rex pointed out, I don't want to see this is as easy as it gets right here, but right now, if it is gettable, it's right now. There's minimal wind. Good shots are rewarded.
Because there's times -- I was talking to my coaches, where you can hit really good shots at major championships, and it doesn't turn out so great, if that makes sense. Obviously good shots that turn out good, that's great. Bad shots that turn out bad, you probably deserved it. Bad shots that turn out good is kind of lucky. Good shots that turn out bad, those are the ones you've got to really manage your emotions with and manage, shoot, even your intensity, going back to what you said.
I feel like right now, a good shot, you're going to get rewarded. It's not predictable, but it's somewhat gettable.
JOHN DEVER: Is there any one element that you and Mike Bender worked on that was especially fruitful in this opening round for you today?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, for someone that hits it like myself, and when the rough is this substantial, I'm not great out of the rough. I mean, I'm pretty shallow when it comes to hitting the golf ball, so it's hard for me to get steep. So fairways are a premium. So my driver has been the emphasis.
It was streaky today, but when it was good, it was really good. It seems to me like our driver has kind of been the emphasis, outside of the obvious things, putting and whatnot. You've got to make putts.
Yeah, hitting fairways and trying to -- for me, trying to commit to just one of two shots: It's my stock shot, which is a draw, or it's kind of a push. Keep it that simple because if there's anything I've ever told anybody -- I actually told a couple young guys this week on the phone and in person, major championship you don't have to manipulate or change your game just because it's a major.
So I'm trying to keep it simple. That's the best way I can put it. He's really good at eyeing that, seeing that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports