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June 28, 2006

Zach Johnson


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Zach Johnson to the 2006 Buick Championship. Zach, a place you've played well in the past. You had a Top 5 finish two years ago. You're also a member of the PAC, and with the FedEx Cup announcement today. And lastly, you're in the Ten 10 on the Ryder Cup points right now and we have seven or eight weeks to go before that team is announced.

A lot to talk about. Let's start talk about your play coming into this week.

ZACH JOHNSON: I feel good about things. I took the week off before the Open. I took last week off, so I've had a lot of rest. So I feel this stretch, I'm playing four in a row starting this week, and that was the purpose in doing that, I was able to prepare for the Open, and I'm able to get ready for the stretch throughout the British Open.

I'm excited about my game. Things are definitely going in the right direction. I didn't hit it well today, but today was a strange one. All in all, I'm very much on a high about my game.

TODD BUDNICK: The course is a little wet out there for you today. It might not play like it did before. What is it that you like about the TPC River Highlands?

ZACH JOHNSON: I think it's one of the better TPCs that we have, for sure. I say that partly because when the conditions are nice and dry and the greens are firm, it's as good as it gets. Even still today it's fine because you have everything, you have short par 4s, long par 4s, lefts, rights, a lot of character, long, short, par 3s are long, some are short. The finishing holes out here, the last five holes are about as good as it gets. And they're not terribly long but they're good holes. It adds a lot of excitement. A lot of things can happen, especially with 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17, as we've seen in the past. It always makes for a good championship.

TODD BUDNICK: And then you're inside the Ten 10 for the Ryder Cup points. That's probably one of the reasons you set your schedule up for the next four weeks, for a chance to earn some more points?

ZACH JOHNSON: Absolutely. I set it up so that I had the necessary time to prepare for my weeks on. It's certainly my loftiest goal, if you will, but it's one day at a time, one week at a time. That's how I'm going to go about it. I'm not going to concentrate so much on the future. That kind of stuff will take care of its own if I can concentrate on the present. That's kind of my approach.

Q. I assume there's not much roll out there?

ZACH JOHNSON: It rolls, it just rolls backwards.

Q. You said it was strange out there today?

ZACH JOHNSON: I just meant my game wasn't great. It was a strange day because you get here I mean, I was up at 5:30. I didn't hit my first shot until noon. I don't like to practice in the rain. The golf course, the wind today is nearly opposite of the dominant wind. So a lot of things like that, it's not usually how the course plays. But the course drains great. There's casual water, but there were torrential downpours for an hour or two hours. It was strange in the sense it wasn't a normal Wednesday.

Q. You didn't get out there before?

ZACH JOHNSON: No, it was 20 or 30 minutes before teeing off.

Q. That's a bonus, I guess.


Q. You almost made the Presidents Cup team, pretty close. You say it's one of your loftiest goals. Do you let the play take care of it or is it something that you were really concentrating on?

ZACH JOHNSON: I think you have to let things take care of itself. If you put too much emphasis on one of those cups, one of those point systems, I think things get out of whack. It can get down to as specific as, okay, I have got this 4 footer. This 4 footer could go a long way and get me more points for the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup or whatever.

You can't be thinking that way. You have to think process over the shot, over the tournament, go about Monday through Sunday and let things take care of itself after Sunday. For the most part I've done that pretty well this year. I don't think I was inside the Ten 10 going into the year. I'm assuming I still am now.

Like I said, it's my loftiest goal, but I don't focus a whole lot on it. I kind of know where I stand just because I'm not my wife will fill me in

Q. (No microphone.)

ZACH JOHNSON: Nothing happened after last week?


ZACH JOHNSON: I'm 6 out of 10, 6 out of 12, you can kind of look at it like that. The way the system is set up now with the point system, it's so volatile. We have seven weeks left, but that's a lot of golf, and the majors are quadruple. A lot of things can happen, and because of that you have to take it one round at a time.

TODD BUDNICK: Just to give you an idea, Ben jumped from 93rd into the Top 20.

ZACH JOHNSON: There you go.

Q. The new point system, it's very volatile, as you said, are you in favor of how they have set it up?

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know yet, to be honest.

TODD BUDNICK: Are you talking about Ryder Cup or FedEx?

Q. Ryder Cup.

ZACH JOHNSON: The nice thing about it is it does put a premium on playing well late, prior to the Ryder Cup or whatever. So in essence, you can look at it as though you can get 10 guys on the list that are playing the best golf at that point. You don't want to say there is ever a lock, but there are locks. The top 3 or 4, probably top 4 or 5 almost at times are locked, due to experience and obviously their names.

There's probably a good four to six positions you're fighting for. Having that competition within a so called team for example, if I don't make a team, I still feel like based on what Tom Lehman said, based on what other captains and players of the previous teams have said, it's still a team effort.

Just because I wasn't on the Presidents Cup team, I felt like I'm still a part of the team, because it's a competition within the competition on Tour to get those points, to get that amount of money for the Presidents Cup. You want to be on the team and you want to play your best leading up to it, thus the point system really favors the guys playing well late.

Q. The last you played was the U.S. Open, right? Does this kind of look like boulevards now compared to

ZACH JOHNSON: In essence, it kind of does. Plus the ball is not rolling. Wherever you hit it, it's going to stop. It's fairly open right now. The wind, you can hit a shot here and mis hit a little bit and you can get a gust and it's gone. The wind has been like this the last two days. I don't know the forecast for the rest of the week, but it was a two club wind with my irons today. It was pretty severe. It's still going to be a test.

The greens are rolling well, but there's a lot of grass on them. And the water, unfortunately, has kept them so they can't mow it down too fast, and obviously the wind too. If they get them fast, the wind can take over pretty quick.

But relative to the U.S. Open, they're similar in the sense they're both far. The U.S. Open is very fair.

Q. Graduated rough?

ZACH JOHNSON: I have no complaints. The greens were slow, very slow. I didn't make the weekend, but from what others were saying, extremely slow on the weekend and bumpy. You're going to get that with poa annua. You can't help that. What you see is what you get. It's pretty simple because you stand on a hole and you know you have got to hit it in the fairway, you know you have to hit the front third of the green.

It's unfortunate that there wasn't that many pin placements. But when that course was made, the greens were rolling at 6, 7, now we want them at 11 or 12. If they want to get them to 12 plus speed, they have to change the contours. That's why you saw the pin on one move a circumference of 20 feet maybe. Some of the greens had the same pins for the practice round as the tournament did. They're close, within three or four or 5 feet. But that's the way it is.

Q. 1 was impossible.

ZACH JOHNSON: 1 was brutal. The tee shot doesn't seem like it's much. It's normal. Then your next shot, it doesn't look like it's that much, but it is. It was a hard hole. They're all hard.

Q. On the FedEx Cup point system coming out today and how everything is done, the impact it has next year?

ZACH JOHNSON: I, for one, am very excited about it. It's going to provide a lot of things. It's going to be a domino trickle effect, if you will. It's great for us players because the incentive playing well obviously towards or late summer, early fall, is huge, financially speaking. I think the other nice thing is you're going to get a lot more of the better players playing more often and together, thus it helps us players, too, us other guys, because if we play well, we're showcased too.

So there are a lot of benefits for us players. I think the biggest benefits the best benefits is for the fans, in general. It's going to be great for the media, too. They're going to probably love it because there's going to be so much drama involved, having this splash at the end of the year. And the fans will love it, once they understand it, because of the reasons I stated earlier, they're showcasing the best talent, more often, having this so called Super Bowl, if you will, at the end of the year, or playoffs, if you will, is only going to add more excitement to our sport. We lack the Super Bowl, we lack the World Series, Final Four, whatever you want to call it.

The first year, it's go to provide a lot. And I think it's only going to get better in years to come.

Q. Better understanding, do you mean the point system itself or the entirety of the FedEx Cup?

ZACH JOHNSON: We have announced FedEx is sponsoring the FedEx Cup. And today they're giving all the other information, information that's available, there's still stuff to clean up. Just like anything else, I'm sure worlds change and things change in other sports, you have to fill in the fans and the public. It's just a matter of getting the fans acquainted with this system. We have got the World Golf system, we have got the Money List, we have got the Ryder Cup points, we've got Presidents Cup points, there's so many things go on, and this is one more thing to throw in the bucket with all that.

I don't think it's going to be very difficult, I think it's just a matter of the fans understanding it. It's not hard to figure out, it's just a matter of getting them acquainted with it.

Q. With the FedEx Cup, how do you think it's going to change how you prepare for tournaments next year? Have you thought about that at all?

ZACH JOHNSON: A little bit. Not much. I'm going to do more of that evaluation at the end of the year or towards the end of the year. The schedule changed a dramatically, as far as tournament to tournament. The West Coast, early on, I don't think it's changed much at all, if any. But there's new events, there's events taken out, there's new sites for new events excuse me, same sites, different events. And then things like Tampa used to be in the fall and now it's in the winter. Dallas and Fort Worth are always back to back. That's not going to be the case.

So the traveling is going to be the thing. I think aside from the traveling, it's just a matter of finding I specifically like to play two to four on and then take one to two weeks off, so I'm going to have to arrange that such that's when I play my best.

Looking at my previous tournaments, my first week back is at times was pretty good, but it's the second week and third week that I play my best, so it's a matter of finding myself on a golf course that I play well at and it lends myself to having decent finishes.

It's going to be difficult, but you learn as you go and everybody has got to play, so I don't see any problem.

TODD BUDNICK: Thanks for your time.

End of FastScripts.

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