home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


July 11, 2006

Zach Johnson


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Zach Johnson to the 2006 John Deere Classic. Zach, 17th on the Money List, 7th on the Ryder Cup list at the moment. It's another exciting year for you.

ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you.

TODD BUDNICK: Just talk a little bit about your play.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. You know, things are good. I kind of reevaluated at the end of last year and wanted to simplify things and make things a little easier on myself week to week, both on weeks and off weeks, and I think we've pretty much accomplished that. We'll see. We'll reevaluate at the end of this year.

As Sean just said, it's just a matter of simplifying things and understanding what you do best and fine tuning those things.

With my instructor Mike Bender and Pat O'Brien, my putting instructor, we've done that. We've done a good job of how I go about it Monday through Wednesday, and obviously once the tournament starts, too.

I think where things are, things are going the right direction for sure, it's just a matter of getting more opportunities to win. I'm really excited about the remainder of the year.

TODD BUDNICK: This is a place where you're on the board here at the tournament and you've played here a couple times now. Talk about how the course has matured since you first saw it.

ZACH JOHNSON: It's matured a lot. It gets better and better every year. Obviously being in the Midwest, I was spoiled growing up. The land up here is perfect, rich for courses and for grass, terrain I guess you would say. I'm not an agronomist, but the more a course matures, the better it gets. That's very evident here.

I heard they had a new superintendent this year, and he's done a great job. It's in as good a shape as I've ever seen it. Granted, the rain doesn't help, but it'll be a great championship.

Q. Playing this close to home, distraction not to be a negative word, but how hard is it to concentrate with all the surroundings and all the people you know and trying to get around the course that way?

ZACH JOHNSON: You know, this week isn't that much it kind of sounds arrogant, but it's not that much different than any other week because there's always someone I know, friend or family every other week, and if I don't know them, they claim they know me (laughter). Really it's just magnified a little bit more here, I think. But I'm getting used to it.

I'm playing as you saw growing up here and playing the amateur ranks and what amateur golf means here in Iowa, and then obviously the mini Tour circuit around here, playing on the Nationwide and on the PGA TOUR, people around here click onto their own. That's the reason. That's their pride. It's just the way it is. That's the way I am, too. I follow sports and people from Iowa, this area, like crazy.

It's not much of a nuisance, it's not a nuisance, it's not stressful. As a matter of fact, I love it because I'm getting more used to it. They're always here, and it's great. There's always somebody to lean on, whether it's family or friends. There's always someone.

Q. If you could talk a little bit about the board thing that you do, what that involves for you and what you've been able to bring to the tournament committee from a player standpoint and basically improvements or whatever for the tournament.

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't really know how much I do. I always claim that I don't do much because I really don't feel that I do that much. My responsibility is probably a few dinners a year with Clair and some of his staff. Outside of that, it's pretty much just a phone call, and it's a teleconference call for 15, 20 minutes, half hour max. Basically they fill me in on some of the issues, some of the topics, ask for my advice on some things, some of which they take, some of which they don't.

But really, I'm kind of a liaison between what's when Clair comes out to tournaments or whoever from John Deere, they don't really they can't see everything. They're on the range, they're talking to players and this and that, but they don't hear or see everything, and that's kind of my responsibility. It can be the most small, petty question, but I'll have an answer for the most part.

I mean, I have a bus, so it's like, how is the bus setup this week relative to other weeks. That could be one example. But it could be as significant as how about the food inside the locker room, is that up to par with other courses.

The questions are relevant and they cover the whole spectrum. It's fun for me because I'm starting to learn exactly what the ins and outs of running a tournament are, the logistics, the setup and the management and all the responsibilities. It's pretty cool.

Q. The Ryder Cup standings were mentioned. How important is that to you relative to winning a tournament, winning a major?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it's very important. I mean, obviously I want to win every week, whether it's a major or not. But the Ryder Cup in my opinion just me personally, it's the biggest thing in golf. That's just me. I don't know.

Growing up, I loved watching the majors, it didn't matter which one it was. I liked watching any golf tournament for that matter. But the Ryder Cup for whatever reason, to me it's up there with the Final Four, it's up there with the National Championship of football or whatever. It's big time.

I like the team atmosphere of it, that whole aspect. I haven't been on it obviously, any of those teams, but it's something I really want to get into.

Q. Obviously you'd play this event if it were held during Christmas week, but there are some guys like Chris who wouldn't be here if it weren't a Ryder Cup year. Is it starting to get to that point with guys?

ZACH JOHNSON: Could be, it's possible. I don't know. Chris obviously has had some things happen lately in the past, a few months ago. That could be one of his reasons. I don't know why they play or why they don't play. It is a little unfortunate that it's a week before the British Open. That's always a factor. But at the same time, it's better than after the British Open.

You know, last year we had this field is great in my opinion. I think it's great, and I think last year's was great. I mean, every field is good. Obviously the talent is not a problem.

Q. With regard to your schedule, will you play some events this year that maybe you wouldn't ordinarily

ZACH JOHNSON: I've got one question mark on my schedule. I'd prefer to take it off just due to rest and the consistency of my weeks on and week off. At the same time, if I need to play, I might have to do it.

Q. What's working for your game right now and what are some things that maybe you're struggling with right now?

ZACH JOHNSON: I seem to be hitting it pretty well. I would never say I'm an elite ball striker. I drive it pretty well and I putt it pretty good. That's what I would say most weeks. But I'm starting to hit it pretty good, consistently pretty solid.

My fundamentals and my routine with working on my fundamentals is a lot sharper and more simplified. To win a golf tournament is a matter of making putts. That's what I'm doing well.

What I'm doing poorly is probably more fine tuning things, making sure my routine is consistent shot to shot, making sure that Monday through Wednesday I'm doing the right things to prepare for Thursday through Sunday. It's just a matter of fine tuning those things. They're not bad but they're certainly not where I want to be.

Q. What's been your interaction with Tom Lehman, and do you feel like as a Ryder Cup rookie you'd have to play your way onto the team as opposed to being a captain's pick? And secondly, can you address what you think it's going to take to win the tournament here this week?

ZACH JOHNSON: As far as the Ryder Cup goes, yeah, I don't there's ten guys on the team the way I'm looking at it. I don't want to get into the whole picking system. I was in that last year with the Presidents Cup and just missed out.

Having Tom as a captain and what he's done and his approach, I can't speak seeing as it's my third year, I can't speak to what's happened years previous, but I think he's done a phenomenal job preparing and encouraging and filling us in on what he wants this team to be about.

Saying that, I think he's going to be he already has been a great captain. Everybody loves Tom. I mean, this is a huge, huge priority for him. He wouldn't have taken this responsibility if it wasn't. It would be an honor to play for him because of who he is and is a friend of mine. His phone is on, you've just got to call him, pick his brain. He's phoned me, I don't know if he's phoned others, but it can be random things, little things.

But he's notifying us guys as to what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. He doesn't care who plays on the team. I mean, I understand. If I was looking outside in, I wouldn't care, either. Everybody is good; it's just a matter of going out there and doing it.

Q. And the tournament this week?

ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, yeah, sorry. What was the question?

Q. What's going to be a factor this week? Are the greens a little speedier and is the heat going to be a factor?

ZACH JOHNSON: It's hard to tell. It rained a little bit last night and all morning, so it's I'm getting negative roll. Sometimes my ball is backing up. But the course is in great shape. If it dries out firm and fast is how we want it. That's the way you want it. You want to have to worry about running it through in the rough. That makes it more difficult. You hit it in the fairway, you have an opportunity to hit it on the green and land it in a certain area to release to a certain area. That's the best test.

This course can be that way if conditions present it that way. Hopefully it will work out like that. I haven't seen the forecast. If there's no rain left, it could firm up by the weekend.

Q. It's supposed to be blistering hot.

ZACH JOHNSON: It figures. Last week was perfect. I don't know how Chicago got that, but it was 80, 85 every day, and it was perfect.

Q. After a practice round with Michelle today, can you compare her game from last year to this year?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think she hits it a little bit further. You know, it's hard to say. She hit it good last year, too. I'm assuming it's just one more year of experience, and she's probably gotten better at some things that she needed to work on.

It would be better for me to answer that question if I played with her in the tournament. Her fundamentals speak for themselves; they're good, really good. She hits it solid, she hits it straight, she can chip, she can putt. I think it's just a matter of her just making the best of her opportunities because, like I said, she's going to have a bunch of opportunities, and she's just a phenomenal talent. She's good.

Q. It seemed like you had a lot of interaction with her today on the course. Do you have a pretty good rapport with her?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I was fortunate enough to meet her in 2003 I think it was. We did like a it was a Pro Am thing or I can't remember what it was, but I met her and her parents, so I got to know her then. I thought she was great. At that time she was 13 or 14. I think she was 13. Just the way she handled herself, you could tell that she was kind of a star in the making.

Yeah, the conversations we have, random things, just interest, and then obviously talk a little bit about golf. She's wise beyond her years, mature, and her talent is way beyond her years, but she's still 16. I mean, she still likes to do she talks about her friends back home and what they're doing. She misses home, I know that. I think she's been away from home since May.

Q. Was she kidding you when she outdrove you?

ZACH JOHNSON: No, she outdrove me.

Q. No, was she kidding you about doing it?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yes, she was kidding. She got me a few times. She hits it hard. She hits it real hard. To my defense, my ball was backing up (laughter).

Q. Do you have a weight room in your bus?

ZACH JOHNSON: A weight room? Next question (laughter).

Q. Actually Sean volunteered a prediction, and he said that he thought she would make it.

ZACH JOHNSON: Make what?

Q. Make the cut.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I would not bet against her, put it that way. If it came down to it, I certainly would not bet against her. Everybody talks about her putting in the media, and I don't know. I haven't seen her fundamentals are good. I think her putting is great. It's just a matter of making putts and getting more experience on greens.

I mean, this is also a golf course in an area that's totally different than Hawaii. Not that she doesn't have experience elsewhere, but she's still 16. Getting that experience here I think will help her.

Q. How did you spend the summer between your junior and senior years of high school?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, playing golf tournaments, but they were a half hour from my hometown, not a 30 hour flight or whatever (laughter).

Q. She took a little heat for not acknowledging Brittany Lincicome telling her "good shot" at the Match Play. Is match play a little different? Are players expected to communicate more or less during match play in your experience?

ZACH JOHNSON: Wow, that's a tough question. I wasn't aware of that situation. No, I don't think so. You know, I'm sure at the end of the day, whoever the competitors are, they're going to be it's a very classy sport, so if it comes down to it, I think we all understand, hey, they got the best of you.

There may be less words spoken. It's a different game in the sense that your opponent is not just the golf course, it's also the guy or the person that you're playing against. I'm sure it's nothing Ruthless. I mean, I don't know. I have very limited experience in match play. I played well in the Match Play this year, but at the same time that's probably like my third or fourth match play ever.

Q. Do you find yourself communicating less when you're playing match play?

ZACH JOHNSON: I can't recall, sorry.

Q. How much do you know about the two venues that are going to host the majors yet this year, and did you take advantage of your time in Chicago to go see Medinah?

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know much about England. Luke Donald mentioned to me that he thought if the conditions were benign if there was no wind or rain, no wind, it would be very low. But it's typical for the wind always blows, so that's probably not going to happen. I know very little about the British Open.

Medinah, I've been there once, but that was in '99 during the Championship. I was not able to get over there last week. I probably should have, but I was tired so I didn't. That's just a good classic Midwest golf course, long, hard. It'll be a great championship.

Q. Sean joked about you being one of the elder members out there. Turning 30, has that given you cause to reflect on where you are in your career and the fact that you've become a household name on Tour?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I don't know about the latter there. I think Jack Johnson is more of a household name than I am, the singer. I reflect on it a little bit. I don't want to get too caught up in it because it's my job and I feel very fortunate to be where I'm at. At the same time, it's not my number one priority.

I don't know, I mean, the game has done so much for me and I love it as a result. I love competition, so that's what makes me thrive. And regardless of what that is, it could be a meaningless board game, and I want to win it.

I love the game because of that, and I just feel very fortunate to be able to sit in here. My agent is in here, I think. Five, years six ago I was playing the mini Tours, playing an entry fee, and if I win I'd make $1,500.

Q. Talk about some of the festivities with the youth event. Obviously big for you, kind of kick starting it last year bringing the kids down. Was today's event successful in your mind? Or describe what it was like out there.

ZACH JOHNSON: I think it was very successful. Last year's was the first year, like you said. It went great. Those were more kids and families that my family were associated with in the past. This year there was a little bit more. The weather obviously was not very cooperative. I think there would have been even more, especially local.

At the same time, you know, it's great. It's a Tuesday practice round. Tuesday practice rounds on Tour are very laid back anyway. It's great for kids to come out here and kind of see what we do. Obviously they can't walk inside the ropes, but they can get pretty darn close.

It's great having those kids out here and that's what this sport is all about and what the PGA TOUR is all about, for sure; it's giving back to a lot of them. That's what's fun.

Q. What advice do you give to kids starting out the game?

ZACH JOHNSON: I got that question a while back. I think the biggest thing, first and foremost, is to have fun. This game will kind of slap you around pretty quick, especially if you're on a high; it'll bring you down low really quick. The more you play, I think you start to understand that, one, it's very humbling; but two, the good nature and fun, that's what keeps you coming back out.

Alongside of that, when the days go sour or not very good, you've got to find positives in those, whatever they may be. You've got to be optimistic because it's such a mentally I don't know what the word is. It's a mental struggle at times, a mental fight. That's why I love it. You can never perfect it, so have fun and be positive.

Q. There are a lot of young players in the field, and Sean talked about your age. Are the kids coming out, have you noticed the progression, the way they come out in terms of readiness? J.B. has won this year and

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, uh huh. My first year I was 27, 28, whatever, and I still feel like I'm young, although at the same time I feel like I'm getting old relative to the kids that are coming out. One thing, everyone kills it, J.B. Holmes, Camilo Villegas. They're more sound. There's more information, more known about golf for these kids even than when I grew up. The resources available are extensive compared to when I was growing up. That's a good thing. That's what makes the game of golf better, and these kids are the future. Come and watch them, they're good.

Q. You mentioned that you don't know much about the course where the British Open is going to be next week. How do you approach it not knowing anything about it?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, that's not that unordinary of a week. I've played some weeks this year that I didn't play in the past, so it's the same type of thing. I might spend a little more time on the golf course versus the range. You can get pretty prepared on a golf course in two practice rounds. I think that.

Granted, if the event is there the next year, you're going to be more prepared. You've still got to hit it and chase it and find it and hit it again. It's nothing very intricate, it's quite simple.

The way my caddie and I operate and the way we work on things, we can prepare pretty quick and have a good feel about things. I'm not going to get into specifics because it would take forever, but I'm not too worried about it.

Q. Hole 14, one year everybody hits 30, 40 yards away, the next year somebody may hit the green. Can it happen?

ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, yeah, I've hit the green before. Well, that hole, 14, it's a downhill par 4, and today the wind was kind of into us and it was very wet, so if it's no wind or very dry, your ball can get on the green pretty easy. I've seen a 3 wood off the tee go on the green.

Q. So that means technology gives you a big advantage?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, since I've played that hole, technology hasn't done a whole lot (laughter). But yeah, technology has helped a lot. Guys are hitting it a lot further as a result.

Q. Because an amateur like me, five or ten yards different, but you, 50 or 60 yards. Ten years ago if you hit it 300 yards it's a great shot, but now 300 is nothing.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, you're absolutely right. That is technology. The other thing that's attributed to that is fitness is starting to become a big issue out here and trainers and flexibility and things like that. There's a lot having to do with technology, but fitness would certainly be the biggest factor. Fortunately I think some of the standards that they've implemented with the USGA and R & A are going to regulate that.

Q. What is J.B. going to hit at 14?

ZACH JOHNSON: He'll hit driver. Today he'd probably fly it to the front of the green. If it's dry or normal conditions or downwind, yeah, he could probably hit a 2 iron. I mean, I can hit it on the green. I don't know what my driving average is, probably 285.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you very much, Zach.

End of FastScripts.

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297