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February 24, 2006

Zach Johnson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Zach Johnson, congratulations on your win today over Shingo Katayama. Some opening comments on a great week for you.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, thanks. Yeah, off to a good start on the week. And it's kind of been good. I really played good Thursday and played pretty good yesterday. And I got off to a good start and Sean came back.

Today I didn't play phenomenal, but I didn't do anything wrong. I gave myself some opportunities, and I was able to make some birdies and putts when I needed to. It feels good to have played the holes.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You were ranked 15th coming into this tournament. Probably no upsets coming in. I don't know what you thought your chances were coming in, but now it's down to eight guys.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, like you said, everybody is playing good. It's one day, one guy at a time, so to speak. It isn't a matter of who you face. Anything can happen. The seeds are numbers, really. That's all they really are. Granted, there's definitely some truth to the top seeds, but for the most part on any given day, anybody can win. That's why you play the game.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: When is the last time you played match play before this week?

ZACH JOHNSON: I played in the Tommy Bahama Challenge, that was in November. Yeah, that was November. That was just one day. And prior to that was here a year ago.

Q. How about before that? I think you said the other day you didn't have a lot of experience in match play?

ZACH JOHNSON: A year ago was my first match play experience. I never played in Junior Amateurs or Amateurs or anything. I never qualified. That's a sore subject, but it's over with now.

Q. How different you're obviously at a disadvantage, probably, when it comes to experience?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely. Experience is huge, especially relative to some of the guys who are playing this tournament. The Ryder Cuppers, the Presidents Cuppers, a lot are veteran players. At the same time, it's still golf. We had a lot of championships years ago, that's all they were, match play events. So it's when you're also playing against your friends, typically you play match play. It's a lot lower scale, but at the same time it's the same game.

Q. Do you enjoy it?

ZACH JOHNSON: I really enjoy it, just because it's a different change of pace. The monotonous medal play every day gets monotonous, tedious, boring at times. It's kind of refreshing. It's good on the mind. You've got to change your approach a little bit, but at the same time you're still playing the golf course, but you have to pay attention to what your opponent is doing.

Q. You play with Chris when you're home. I'm sure you guys do match play. Can you pick something up from him? I think you described him as a bulldog.

ZACH JOHNSON: He is. That's a good question. He's as you all witnessed in big tournaments, majors, and then Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups. He's tough, he's just fierce. He's got fire. It's something innate that he has, something that you really can't put your hand on. Yeah, I've picked up some things from him. He's certainly helped me along the way, I'm not going to deny that. Just little things here and there.

I played a practice round with him Monday. I asked him a few questions. He is more than willing to help me out, and I'm always appreciative of that. Well, he's a friend of mine, so I wish he was still alive. I don't know who he lost to, but that doesn't really matter. He's going to win he's going to win a lot more matches, so I've learned a lot from him. I think I'll probably continue to learn more from him.

Q. Is there a time, Zach, where you thought you might not get into this tournament, you were down around the 60 range?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, I had to make a choice at the end of last year, the end of 2005, what to do the early part of this year. And I had some minor health issues the last third of the year, probably, with my back. And just, you know, things that golfers probably go through in general. And I wasn't happy with the way my fundamentals were. I played up to the first part of December and I took three or four weeks off and then I started playing practicing in the end of December, early January. I didn't play an event until San Diego, which was our fourth event, third or fourth event, and that helped. That really, really helped.

But in answering your question, yeah, I was never locked. And I just figured if I had in making that choice of not playing early, I felt I could better my chances in the World Ranking in those three events prior to this week. I missed one cut in Phoenix, actually played pretty good, I just didn't score. I played all right last week in LA and played decent in San Diego for two rounds. So shaking the rust off, you know, things kind of took care of themselves.

If I would have made it, I would have made it. I'm not going to second guess it after I make my decision. But I thought it was one that was best for me, for the remainder of the year in general. I can't worry about just one event.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Zach, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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