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May 24, 2001

Doug Johnson


JULIUS MASON: Doug Johnson, ladies and gentlemen, in with a 69 today. Doug, if you wouldn't mind, just give us some of your thoughts on your round today. Then we'll take some questions.

DOUG JOHNSON: Well, tell you the truth, it's been only about five minutes since I left the 18th green, so the only hole that sticks in my mind is 18 unfortunately. But I think it's the only iron shot I really missed all day. I think it was the only green I missed. So for 17 holes it was a great day. I hit almost every fairway, and left a few putts out there, as did about 99 percent of the people. So, but it was a fun day. I birdied I think 15 and 16, and I had a real good putt on 17 downhill; I left it right in the throat to go 5-under. It's still fun. It's a pleasure to be here. A month ago I wasn't even in the PGA Championships, so to be sitting here with three days to go, it is a great thrill.

Q. Could you talk about what it means to get off to a solid start? I know you were talking about 18. Overall, you're on the board, you're one-off. It's a great way to start the weekend. Can you talk about the importance of getting going and playing well the first day?

DOUG JOHNSON: I'll tell you, I don't have a senior card. I missed the school by a shot. So this year's been a Monday nightmare. We've been lucky enough to get in several of them. I got in in Tampa, I was an alternate in Naples, that kind of set me going in Tampa. I played real well, I had the lead in Tampa with about four holes to go, I think. I've been in that position a little bit. I'll tell you, I've been trying not to make a big deal about this Championship. I've never played in a Major. I've played on the PGA Tour about six, seven years. I have been a struggling player, but a solid player. Everybody said I should have made it a long time ago, maybe when I'm 50 it's gonna happen. So I'm just playing one shot at a time. I'm just trying to keep my fairways and greens, that's the idea. That's going to be the idea for the next three days. I got to play with Doug Sanders today, and he kind of loosens things up. He talks a lot, and he's -- he's won more than I could ever throw away. So at least I was in good company. And I played real solid right off the bat. I don't think I putted quite as aggressively as I probably should have. I had a chance last week -- last week we got in at Kansas City. It was the same type of thing. I kept working my way up the board. I finished, I think, top 15 there. That kind of helped me not be bothered. I wasn't worried about the leaderboard. Today I never really thought about it. I know it's a four-day tournament. I'm just thrilled to be working my way from the right direction.

Q. How hard is it to keep your motivation going on Mondays, knowing the odds are so high every week against anyone making it those four spots?

DOUG JOHNSON: Well, I don't look at myself as a Monday qualifier. I look at myself, this may sound a little bit confident, but I just look at myself as a player who should have had his card. I'm one of the better players in the country that doesn't have a Senior Tour card. And I don't look at it. I look at -- I know you got to shoot 68, 67 on Monday, and the pressure is about the same as I faced today. So I've -- getting in these tournaments is a thrill. I mean, I've waited -- I've prepared since 1972, I think. I started playing about 1972, and I think I had a picture of where I wanted to be, in eight years I got on the Tour. That was a dream beyond belief. Nobody thought that was gonna happen. And so I've been preparing since I lost my card on the regular Tour in '87. I've been preparing 13 years for this one. So it's a great thrill for Sandy and I, this is the first time Sandy hasn't been on the bag. She's caddied for me for almost 22 years. So she caddied for me last week when we finished top 15. And she caddied for me in Tampa when we won or had a chance to win, I should say. I wish I had won. But we took a local guy, and I hope he made the difference this week putting-wise. I'm just looking forward to having a shot at a good top, solid finish here, and maybe that can rebound and make the US Open be a little more easier to get into and a few other ones.

Q. Did you say you'd never played in a Major?

DOUG JOHNSON: No, I never played a US Open, a PGA, I never won so I never played in the Masters. But I've played a lot of senior events -- I mean, excuse me, a lot of regular Tour events. And I've definitely grown as a player since then. I was as calm today, to tell you the truth, I hope I can be this calm come Sunday, and I hope I'm anywhere on the leaderboard. I'm just thrilled to be here. I'm very -- I'm just very happy to have prepared myself to have an opportunity to be here, I guess.

Q. How many times had you tried to qualify for the US Open through the sections, the local --

DOUG JOHNSON: Well, the US Open, I've won the section thing about three or four times, but never made it through the second one, the 36-hole deal there. And I never was a club pro, so to speak, so I never had a chance to be in this Championship prior to this. So when we found out we were in this in Kansas City, we knew we had two tournaments back-to-back. I haven't had two tournaments back-to-back in years, so to be in contention two weeks in a row when a Monday ago I wasn't even sure I was gonna be -- I thought I'd be watching it on TV, we've got a great opportunity. I feel like I'm at home out here. I'm getting to know the players. I'm gonna try to be at home on the leaderboard more often. Like I said, today it really never -- I never really noticed it. I will say that I noticed it on 17 when I knew I had a chance to take the lead outright when I walked off the green. I left the putt right in the throat downhill. That would help get to 5. I can't believe I had a chance for 5, I had 5 in the bag and ended up here at 3. But I, again, it's a long tournament. We got 54 holes to go. There's a lot of birdies. If I can just try to hit 16, 17 greens every day this week, it's gonna be a fun tournament. Let's put it that way.

Q. Two questions, if you don't mind. You said you became eligible a month ago. Was it through the money list or...?

DOUG JOHNSON: Yes, to answer the first one, and I'll try not to elaborate so long. I know I'm kind of long-winded. I got in by the money list, I think I was like 84th on the money list because of my Tampa finish. Tampa I threw away about 190, 200,000 there. I could have been in this and be comfortable. But as it turned out, I didn't quite do that. I think I learned from that. I was very aggressive today. I was playing center of the green, and work the ball to the flag. I hit a couple real close ones, working it to the flag. That will be the plan for the whole week.

Q. You're a lefty, right?


Q. Growing up, was there somebody you idolized, like Bob Charles or a local guy or somebody like that?

DOUG JOHNSON: Actually, I didn't play when I was very young. I didn't play much when I was younger. I played a little bit as a teenager, and I was a good athlete, kind of good athlete at everything and not great at anything. So I actually ended up watching the Milwaukee Open in '72 and watching Jim Colbert win. I was working and going to college, and that basically changed my entire life. I came home to my mom and dad and said, "This is what I want to do for a living. I want to play professional golf." They said, "You're shooting about 99 to 100. It's kind of a long shot." Doug Sanders said a few words today about dreaming and having goals and different things. Out here, this gives me a chance, we're all back to even now. I've got a good chance to be successful out here in the years to come. All I have to do is play for 10, 12, 15 years. How much better can it get?

Q. What did Doug Sanders say about dreaming and did he offer you any --

DOUG JOHNSON: You know, I'm going to have to ask him again. I wish I could be very articulate and give a very good answer. I was focused so much on where I was putting my ball. He came up to me and he said, "Some people dream and some people succeed," and to tell you the truth, he was very supportive today out there. About, oh, I got it under real quick, then I missed a short 3-foot birdie putt about on the fourth hole. I was very, very disappointed to say the least. And I knew getting off to a good start in any of these tournaments is important, and he came over shortly after that and he says, "I didn't have any idea you were this good. I've been watching you all week. I didn't realize you were this good," he says. I thought, "Well, here's one of the best players in the world telling me in a Major Championship that I should to be here." And I thought, "Well, maybe I ought to be here." And he just said something about, "Some people are dreamers and some people are doers. You're a doer, now go and do it." Two holes later I go birdie, birdie and really should have birdied 17. So I hear for years how difficult it was for the Jim Thorpes and different people to be comfortable out here. I remember them saying, "I'm so thrilled to have won," so they felt like they were -- belonged out here. And I've had some good support. I haven't, you know, like I said, I've had a chance, maybe a slight chance to win at Tampa, and last week it would have been impossible with Dougherty shooting so low. I was just trying to get a Top 10 and keep my focus on where we're heading this year. I'm going to try and have as many good weeks as we can. I know that each week I play well, a better chance I have of having exemptions or having a chance not to have to Monday qualify. It's just I'm looking forward to the next three days and the next ten years.

JULIUS MASON: Thanks a lot for coming in.

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