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August 12, 2006

Zach Johnson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Zach Johnson, thanks for joining us. Great round today, 15 points. Still some players out on the golf course, but birdies on four of your last five holes. You have to like your position heading into tomorrow.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. Today is moving day, as they call it. I got off to a decent start and kind of kept that momentum, had some good saves, felt good about things and ended well.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You finished up your second round this morning, and I heard you mention that you played well but didn't really get a whole lot out of it.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I played really good. I finished my last five holes five for nine. I had a birdie putt on 5, 6, 7 and 8 and actually made a good bogey on 9. It was unfortunate, hit one in the water on 9, but at the same time I made a pretty good save, and that kind of led into today.

Q. In this tournament when you eagle the first hole, normally in a tournament maybe you leapfrog a couple of guys, here you go over about a dozen at a time when you do that. How does that affect you mentally the rest of the way then?

ZACH JOHNSON: You know, good question. I feel that making that eagle was just momentum. It breeds confidence, and fortunately I was able to keep it going. Like you said, you jump a lot of people, and that's just the beauty of this format. It maybe requires a little more aggressiveness in shots, but at the same time you've got to play your game.

Q. I know you've probably been thinking about this for the last six weeks and probably been asked this for the last six weeks, but are you thinking anything about the Ryder Cup or focused strictly on this week's tournament?

ZACH JOHNSON: For this year?

Q. Yeah, coming up in a couple weeks.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I am. It's certainly a topic. It's my biggest goal of the year, something that I really, really want bad. I don't want to be like last year where I was a potential pick, where I think I finished 12th or 13th on the list. But at the same time if I can take care of business here, that stuff will take care of itself. That's kind of my approach. To be honest with you, I didn't know if I was going to play this week. I've been playing well, I just haven't cracked any more points as of late, and I felt like I need to play. I've got this week and next week to earn my spots, and that's my objective.

Q. How much of a wait did you have between finishing your round this morning and starting the second, and the momentum you said that you got from the eagle at 1, wasn't the momentum making the good bogey save at 9 been just as important?

ZACH JOHNSON: Absolutely. I made a 10 , 12 footer, I think, for bogey on 9. It was a horrible third shot and a horrible fourth shot. Making that putt, I mean, that's a two point putt. Any time you get a two point putt, I don't care what it's for, it's huge. Doubles you've got to avoid, or more. I think I only got one. But those eagles I mean, I made another eagle in my second round on 17, and that kind of got me going. And then making that one today on 1 certainly gave me a little push in the back.

Q. You talked about the beauty of the format and balancing the aggressiveness and avoiding the doubles, but can you point to anything strategically you did differently specifically on any shots in this round that you wouldn't have done in stroke play?

ZACH JOHNSON: Picking my ball up because I knew I had a double (laughter). That's actually a really, really good question. You know, I don't necessarily think so. I mean, I pretty much try to play my own game. If the pin is left, I can typically be aggressive. If the pin is right, my fades are typically like a push, so I'm not quite as aggressive. This week when I've got the pin on the right side and I need to hit a cut, I'm doing it more often. The ball doesn't curve as much here in altitude, which kind of helps me, I think.

But all in all, no, not really. I'm playing to the side of the green and I'm aggressive off the tee.

Q. So the Ryder Cup was the biggest goal this year, what does it mean to you? What does the Ryder Cup mean?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, in my opinion, I think it's the largest sporting event in golf, and seeing that golf is my job, I want to make that team as an American. I think it's just having that team atmosphere is big for me. I love team sports, having the team chemistry, and then playing for your country, I mean, that's a huge honor and privilege.

You know, that combined with the fact that Tom is a pretty good friend of mine, and having him as a captain would be pretty cool. I know Corey very well and Loren I know decent, so having those guys to kind of guide us, so to speak, would be just an honor.

Q. Some guys sleep on the lead a little easier than others. What's your technique the day before a final round if you're in contention, not necessarily in the lead? Do you watch The Golf Channel, avoid Golf Channel, eat at the same restaurant?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, this week where I'm staying, there's I don't know what you call it, a duplex here in Castle Pines with some other golfers and their wives, so it's not going to be any different. I haven't had a whole lot of sleep. I finished late last night and had to get up early this morning and finish my round this morning. I'm going to sleep well. I never sleep bad. I could fall asleep right now if I had to. Sleep is not an issue.

As far as everything else, I'll just have a good dinner, mess around with my dog and my wife and our friends and just have a good time.

Q. Do you try to think about golf or not?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I probably try to avoid it. At the same time, it's only natural. If it comes in your mind, so be it. I don't think it's that big of a deal, it's just a matter of how you treat it. Basically I feel like my approach tomorrow is I've got zero points and my tee shot on 1 is my emphasis.

Q. I saw you on 1 right before you holed that shot. You said something to Ernie. Was there something wrong with your lie?

ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, yeah. No, I had a bee on my ball, and you can't touch your golf ball with your hand, but if you can kind of get the bee off eventually it moved, but it was probably a wasp or a hornet or something. It was big. I didn't want to kill it.

Q. How many holes did you have to play this morning?

ZACH JOHNSON: Four and a half.

Q. And how tough is that?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, it's tough, but at the same time, as Joel can attest, I feel like we do it once every three or four weeks. It's just part of our business. You can't control Mother Nature, and unfortunately this tournament has been dampered by lightning and hail and whatnot. I mean, it's frustrating, but at the same time we're used to it.

Q. What do you normally do when you have to restart in the morning?

ZACH JOHNSON: Nothing different. I go through my routine unless I've got just one day I had three feet for a putt, and that stinks. I'm going to stretch, I'm going to do my routine, hit balls, eat. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Q. You seemed to score well at the tail end of your round today so you must not have been too tired from last night, this morning and then the altitude?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I felt good. I'm drinking plenty of water and I've got some supplements that I'm taking that are certainly helping in this altitude. The stuff that I've been working on mentally has helped, too. I felt fine. You've just got to take deep breaths and hopefully get some air in your lungs because it's different.

Q. Just so you put this into perspective, and I know one may lead to the others, but if you could only have one, would you rather the PGA or the Ryder Cup?

ZACH JOHNSON: PGA Championship?

Q. Yeah.

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, if I won I think I would be on the Ryder Cup. But I know what you're saying. If I was out of contention for the Ryder Cup, that sort of thing? Wow, that's hypothetical right there. You know, I don't know. I really do not know. I feel oh, man, that's a good question. Let me think about that for a second. The national championship in football, that's up there, as well.

Golf is an individual game, but the uniqueness of the Ryder Cup I'm not going to answer your question and it's going to be pretty bland, but it's a team aspect. It's a totally different entity. I don't know how to really explain it. You play for majors, no question about that. But, I mean, the Ryder Cup is very, very, very special. I feel like if I can win a PGA Championship, at some point I'll be in the Ryder Cup anyway. That really doesn't answer your question, but that's the answer.

Q. Two part question here. Does this format, the modified Stableford scoring system, does it fit your style at all? And also, with the way that the leaderboard can change rapidly out here, do you do any leaderboard watching?

ZACH JOHNSON: Your first part, fit my style, you know, I don't know. It's my second time playing in the system. I did not play last year. I played my rookie year and played pretty good but I missed the cut. I think I've gotten used to the altitude. That is a big thing. I mean, I'm pretty precise when it comes to how much downhill or uphill and then what's the altitude. I want the number. If it's 43, I want 43, not 45. I've got that down I feel. I feel we've got that system down.

Whether or not it fits my style, I don't know. I'm putting well. To get where you're at any of the guys on top of the leaderboard, they're putting pretty darn good. I've missed putts but I've made my share, too. I think you can be an aggressive putter, make a birdie, it's two points, make a bogey, you lose one but you can get it back. Looking at it that way, I guess it fits my style.

Q. Do you leaderboard watch?

ZACH JOHNSON: I'll take a peek. I was eight or nine groups from the first group probably, so given that, I mean, I would say there's a pretty darn good chance I don't have a lead going into tomorrow, especially with 17 and some of those pins on the last four or five holes.

Q. You mentioned how much you enjoy the team aspect of the Ryder Cup. What team sports did you play growing up?

ZACH JOHNSON: An easier question to answer would be what sports didn't I play. I didn't play football very long, but I love football. A lot of basketball, a lot of soccer. Soccer was my love from the beginning. A little bit of baseball here and there, but primarily soccer and basketball, and I played tennis. I played everything. I really didn't click onto golf until probably halfway through my high school years.

Q. To clarify about the Ryder Cup, the thing about the schedule, would you have been here if you were out of contention or definitely, definitely on the team?

ZACH JOHNSON: Out of contention, potentially. If I was definitely on the team, maybe not, just because of the way my schedule is unfolding. Now I'm taking a week off that I anticipated playing because I'm playing this week. So there was definitely a chance. Not that I dislike this place. I'm trying to figure out what's best for me preparing for a major. A lot of guys play the week before, a lot of guys don't. Seeing as it's my third year out here, I don't know how many majors I've played, but I have yet to really play well. I've played okay in a couple but not well. I still don't know what the best approach is. I'm trying to figure that out, and hopefully it's playing the week before.

Q. Birdies and eagles from the round today?

ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. 1, hit an okay drive, hit it in the rough but laid up and hit a lob wedge, I don't know the yardage, I played it at 90 yards and it landed past the pin and spun back in the hole.

6, I hit a good drive and a decent second shot to probably 15, 18 feet, made that, hit 9 iron.

I chipped in for par on 8. That was real big.

14, par 5, I hit a good drive. That was after the 25 minute delay, whatever we had. I hit a good second shot short right of the green and chipped it up there to about three feet and made that.

Next hole, I hit a 3 wood off the tee, 15, and hit another lob wedge in there to about five, six feet. That was a pretty good putt, made that.

16, I hit 5 iron, the par 3, had a good two putt.

17, hit a good drive and a 6 iron to probably 12 feet and I missed that for eagle, but I hit a good putt. It broke I don't know how many feet, six feet.

18, I hit a good drive, hit a 7 iron in there to nearly 15 feet probably and made a good putt.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Zach, thanks.

End of FastScripts.

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