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March 29, 2007

Johnson Wagner


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Johnson Wagner in with a 6-under par 66, bogey-free today.
Fourteen of 18 greens, 27 putts. Just another average day for you.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Pretty much. Pretty much average. I generally have 27 putts, so I'm happy about that.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Talk a little bit about the day.
JOHNSON WAGNER: I putted really well. I made a couple putts from the fringe, actually one putt from the fringe. Couple putts over 15, 20 feet. Whenever I can do that, that's pretty good. Didn't have a 3-putt.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Good golf course for you?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It is. I drive it relatively straight. It's always nice to have a little bit of lighter rough to hit out of as opposed to the tournaments we had down in Florida with the heavy 6-inch rough.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Okay. Questions.

Q. Johnson, take us through the par save on 18, just your thought process as you're going through.
JOHNSON WAGNER: When I was in the fairway bunker, I was trying to hit it on the front right side. It came out dead left. Immediately I thought it was going to be in the water. It trickled downhill. I couldn't see if it stayed up or not. When I got up there, I didn't see a ball, walk, walk, walk. It's sitting right against the red stake. I think the stake saved me a shot there.
I've noticed out here all the areas that they've mowed down, it's possible to have to stand in the water to hit a shot. So I kind of expected that. And didn't really have to get too wet but didn't want to ruin my shoes.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Take your shoes off?
JOE CHEMYCZ: Roll your pants up?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Right. My legs are a little too white to roll up.

Q. It's obviously a first round, but, you know, what would it mean to you to hang in there throughout and maybe even win this thing come Sunday?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It would mean a lot. First round means nothing. It's nice to be sitting in here with you guys, but 54 holes left, anything is possible, and I'm going to go out and treat each day like this one.
And I like playing in Texas. I've always liked playing in the Southeast, Louisiana, I'm just comfortable down here. Hopefully I can stay in every round and bring it home on Sunday.

Q. How would you describe what the first three months of your rookie season have been like?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It's been good. I've made seven of nine cuts. The two cuts I missed I played terribly in Phoenix and Bay Hill. I just have not been able to get a good Sunday round.
I've been in the Top-25 going into Sunday a lot, and I've had a chance to have some Top-10s and I've just really struggled on Sunday.
That's something that has bothered me, but other than that, I played really well this year. I'm happy with the way I'm playing Thursday, Friday, putting myself in contention. So I'm learning a lot out here, and hopefully my experiences will help me this weekend.

Q. What are you learning about yourself or your game?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Just my tendencies when I get nervous, where my misses are.
You know, the same mistakes coming up time and time again, and it's easy to tell when I keep doing the same things that I need to quit doing those.

Q. What have you done when you're nervous?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Generally I hit the ball a little left with my driver. Same with my irons. I pretty much always hit it left when I don't make a good swing. It's just really trusting my swing and ripping it down the middle.

Q. If you're in this position after Saturday, have you got any new game plans for Sunday, or how many have you been through?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Oh, no, not really. I take each day like it -- like it doesn't matter, like it's not a Sunday. Try to go in there, don't look at leaderboards, don't watch Golf Channel at night. That kind of stuff.

Q. You alluded to the course a little bit. Give us a little description of what you think of it. They sort of tried to lay it out as a Masters prep course, for lack of a better term.
JOHNSON WAGNER: I've never played the Masters, but, you know, I would find it hard to believe there is any set of greens in the country or if not the world that are putting better than these greens right now. They're phenomenal.
Fairways are nice and tight and just lush. The rough is perfect. They could have grown it to any height they wanted, it's that healthy out there. The course sets up really well for me off the tee. Lot of right to left holes. I primarily hit a draw. I'm very comfortable out there. Everything about it I like.

Q. With the way the course -- do you feel like guys are going to have to keep pushing for birdies and kind of keep the foot on the accelerator? What's your sense of what the strategy is going to have to be throughout the week here?
JOHNSON WAGNER: With not much rough, you would have to think that you're going to need to shoot somewhere around 20-under, but with the wind blowing the way it can blow out here and if the greens get firm and fast, anything can happen. Because even if you're just coming out of the light rough with a 5-iron, you're going to have trouble holding the greens if they get firm.
That's what it's going to take, no rain, lot of wind to get this place nice and firm and fast.

Q. Could you talk about -- I talked to several golfers who said the wind really kicked up as your round went on. Can you talk about that, maybe any adjustments you had to make?
JOHNSON WAGNER: After about four holes, the wind probably kicked up steadily and not adjustments so much, but you just have to be more cautious and know where the safe side is.
If there's water to the left of 18 and the wind is blowing over there, you need to make sure you hit it right of the hole and just playing to the safer side with that much wind.

Q. The entry in your media guide said you were born in Amarillo. Did you grow up in Texas?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I grew up in Amarillo, both sides of my family. Most of them have moved to Dallas now, but I still have a lot of family in Amarillo. We left Amarillo when I was eight and moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
But I've been back to Texas, you know, two, three times a year my entire life, so I definitely feel at home here. If someone asked me where I'm from, I always say Texas.

Q. Do you have a decent size contingent here? Or they don't love you that much?
JOHNSON WAGNER: They're probably going to come out to the Byron Nelson. If I play well this weekend, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few people out here.

Q. Did you get any whistles or anything when you were doing your little strip tease over there?
JOHNSON WAGNER: "Oh, your legs are white. Put them back on. Get your shoes wet."
It was pretty ugly.

Q. I know it's a different Tour. Any of your success last year helped you this year?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Without a doubt. Before last season I had -- I played four years out there, but after my third year, I almost got through Q-School and I finished, you know, way off the number, but I was right there going into the last round.
If I had gotten through Q-School, I probably would not have been out here this year. I probably would have been back on the Nationwide Tour.
I think having a good year on the Nationwide Tour last year, winning twice, it really proved to me I could play out here.
I've seen guys that have graduated like Zach Johnson was out, Vaughn Taylor. These guys are winning and playing on Ryder Cup teams, and now that I'm kind of at their level now that I finished second on the money list on the Nationwide Tour that I know I belong out here moreso than if I had just gotten through Q-School and finished 30th and won a tournament.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Take us through your birdies starting at 2.
JOHNSON WAGNER: 2, I hit 7-iron to about 15 feet, made it.
JOHNSON WAGNER: 4, I laid up in the right rough, hit sand wedge to about 6 feet.
7, I hit it in the right fringe, probably about 25 feet away.
8, I hit it in the front bunker in two with a 3-wood and hit a bunker shot to about 6 feet.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Chip in 7?
JOHNSON WAGNER: 7, I putted from the fringe.
11, I made about a 40-footer from the front right of the green. Hit wedge into the front.
And 13 I hit on in two and two putted.
JOE CHEMYCZ: 18, the only hole you were in real danger?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Yes. Fourteen of 18 greens I really missed two greens, that was No. 10 and No. 18.
JOE CHEMYCZ: Johnson, thank you. Play well this weekend.

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