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May 29, 2007

Zach Johnson


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson to the interview room here at the Memorial Tournament. Coming off of a week off last week, nice to get a little bit of rest?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it was. Didn't get a whole lot. We actually went back to Iowa for the first time, so my time was pulled and pushed again. But it was good. It was good to get back and see friends and family.

Q. How is your game?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I didn't do much of anything, which is nice. I feel pretty good about where things ended. Things ended on a good note in Atlanta. I don't know why it wouldn't continue. I'm just going to have to take one day as it comes and see where it goes.

Q. Was that the first time back home since The Masters, and what did they have planned?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, yes (laughter). Got back Wednesday, Wednesday was just a family day. Thursday, we made the trip to Des Moines, and we visited the capital and the governor. We were there for about two, two and a half hours, and he read a proclamation -- I'd almost want you to look it up because I'm too embarrassed to tell you what it was, but Zach Johnson day, May 24th. Pretty neat, pretty humbling.
From there I went to one of my hot spots that I went to in college for lunch, and then off to my alma mater Drake, where the president, the AD and some of the other associate ADs led me around campus and presented this and presented that, and a couple press conferences here and there, and just an overwhelming day, an awesome day. I saw so many past teammates of mine, friends of mine, coaches, and getting back on campus was pretty awesome. It's been years since I had been back.
So Thursday was jam packed. Friday was my charity day. I'm giving you a long version answer here. That was my charity day. We visited the beneficiary of my charity this year, which was great, All For Kids. And after that I practiced a little bit, but not much.
Saturday was signing day at my club for members. That lasted over three hours (laughter). Wow, that was a hand cramp.
And then Saturday evening was a party for friends and family, kind of a Masters celebration, and there was a couple surprises there that my wife had planned out for me. Sunday was relaxing day.

Q. Other than that, you just relaxed, huh?
ZACH JOHNSON: Other than that, I just feel relaxed, yeah.

Q. How many autographs would you guess you signed, any idea, that day?
ZACH JOHNSON: There was 350 to 400 people, so two autographs per person.

Q. Did they name any streets after you or anything?
ZACH JOHNSON: Funny you ask. The street leading up into the Country Club, one of the streets, even though it's probably about 200 feet long, is Zach Johnson Drive. It's got some rocky areas, too. It's not very well maintained yet.

Q. Is the whole roller coaster thing more than you expected, and are you going to be happy to see it playing out and kind of -- so you can play some golf?
ZACH JOHNSON: Maybe a little bit more than I expected. I didn't really have any expectations because I didn't know what was going to be presented. I am looking forward to settling down, though. When that comes, I don't have any idea. I've always been told once the U.S. Open comes things mellow out a little bit, so I'm hoping that's the case. At the same time, whatever issues, distractions, problems, requests we've had, at the same time, they're all very, very good ones. It's just a matter of me learning to say no. That's been the most difficult thing.

Q. Was all that exacerbated or heightened by the fact that you just won again?
ZACH JOHNSON: It certainly made it a lot more -- I don't know. I don't know what it would have been if I hadn't won. Part of Iowa is the fact that they just cling onto their own. It doesn't matter what stage they're on. They grab hold of them and they ride with them. I don't think it would have changed regardless of if I had won in Atlanta or not. That's the beauty of Ohio pride.

Q. People forget last year you played so well here and were definitely in contention to win the tournament. Is there something about maybe those classic old-school golf courses that you think maybe sets up well for you?
ZACH JOHNSON: I hope so. I think so. I mean, this is one of my favorite places to be. Golf-wise, I absolutely love it. If you find a complaint here, it's hard. Maybe the weather, but you can't control that. Muirfield, Memorial, Jack and what he does here is awesome.
Traditional courses, probably. I mean, it's target golf I think out here. I think it really puts a premium on putting and the speed of these greens, the undulation of these greens is fairly substantial. That's kind of what I grew up on, a lot of breaking putts, so I like it.

Q. Do you do anything personally? We've talked to a lot of people about supersticians or the way people approach their game. Is there anything you personally do that you might consider superstitious or awkward or anything like that?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm not superstitious. I don't have any superstitions. I am very routine-oriented and systematic, if you will. I try to get up around the same time, I try to eat at the same time. You know, I have to do my stretching, workout routine before I play at the same time every day, and then the way I warm up on the range and the way I putt, pretty much the same thing every time.
So if that's superstitious, then I am. But I don't have to have a coin in one pocket or a ball marker here. My ball marker is very important to me, but that's just because my wife gave it to me. But other than that, there's no superstitions.

Q. You talked earlier, I think, about having some emotional, mental breakdowns there in the time since The Masters. What exactly was that like and how have you gotten over that, I guess, enough to obviously win again?
ZACH JOHNSON: Emotional breakdowns?

Q. Yeah, I think I've seen some quotes that you had some trouble handling some of that.
ZACH JOHNSON: Emotionally, I don't think I've had any trouble. Maybe I'm mistaken. If I said that, I don't recall, and I don't know what it would be. But as far as being inundated with stuff, yeah. The way I've gotten through it is just -- well, we've met everything head-on, first of all. Everything pretty much goes to my agent and is filtered through him, and then my wife and I make decisions based on our criteria. We've got a list we go down, and if it meets some of the big ones, then we'll think about it and try to make a sound decision.
The one thing -- there's two ways to approach these things that come into us, and one is does it add value to our priorities? If it does, then that's a good thing to really pay attention to. Does it take away from all of our other priorities, time, family, et cetera, et cetera? It's just a matter of weighing that out. So it's been very difficult, but everything has been awesome and everybody has been understanding. If I said yes or said no -- in the past I've had a hard time saying no and I've had to as of late, just because it's so difficult.

Q. Did you see anybody in Iowa that you haven't seen for like ever?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes. I couldn't even begin to tell you who.

Q. Hundreds of people?
ZACH JOHNSON: Tons, yes. My wife -- I saw a bunch of the capitol, a bunch of former teammates and friends and coaches, and then my wife flew in pretty much all of the Drake golf team and their spouses or significant others Saturday evening for our party, and my coach back in college and his wife. Well, some of them were already there, but they came to party and surprise me.
Speaking of emotional breakdown, that was an emotional breakdown. But she has a way of doing that, gosh. So yes, I saw a lot of people I hadn't seen in so long. Pretty cool.

Q. Has anybody said anything like really touching or funny or --
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think the -- nothing too funny or outrageous. It's just been the fact -- whatever they've said has been very sincere and from the heart. You know, knowing -- these are some of my friends and some of my closest friends for years. I just don't get to see them that often. It makes it that much more special.
You're talking about the pro that started me on the game, the coach that recruited me, all my teammates. That was unbelievable.

Q. Who came the farthest?
ZACH JOHNSON: One of my really, really good friends from -- he was actually my roommate and teammate in college. He was the No. 1 man on the team, Ben Pettitt. He lives outside Phoenix, Scottsdale, so him and his girlfriend flew in. That was pretty cool to say the least.

Q. Since you've got the U.S. Open coming up, has it dawned on you that maybe you're the only one that can win the Grand Slam? As goofy as it sounds, it's realistic, and are you approaching the Open maybe a little bit different than you would have before?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I've been asked that question a few times. It has dawned on me, but, you know, in reality that situation is -- I'm still not supposed to win. So let's go out and see what we can do.

Q. You were talking previously about this event, the popularity with the players, that kind of thing. How much of that is Jack himself, that it's his event, that he's here, and how much of it is the things around the course?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think it starts with him and ends with him. How much of it is him? All of that stuff you just mentioned is him. He's hands-on as far as, you know, how we're picked up, how we're dropped off, how we're escorted to our locker, the food, the golf course. Obviously it's all him.
Being a player, as he is, he knows what players want, and as a result he provides one of the best, if not the best, arguably one of the best tournaments in golf. I mean, it's very prestigious. It's an unbelievable -- it's one of the higher echelon tournaments in the entire world, and it's because of him, his name.

Q. How much knowledge do you have of Oakmont?
ZACH JOHNSON: As far as the history or the actual golf course itself?

Q. The golf course.
ZACH JOHNSON: I've played it once. I played it last fall. I mean, so not great, but I played one round there and I soaked it in pretty well, a couple four-putts.

Q. Are you going back before --
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm planning on playing next week sometime, yes.

Q. What's it like having Zach Johnson Day for the entire state that you grew up in? And also, do you enjoy playing in the Midwest more? You kind of seem to take pride in the Midwest.
ZACH JOHNSON: From a golf standpoint I do. I like the way the courses are. I like the tree-lined, fast greens, thick rough. It's just what I'm accustomed to. Plus living in Florida I don't see that that often.
Zach Johnson Day, like I said, it's very humbling. It's a privilege and an honor. I really don't know what else to say. I don't feel worthy of it, that's for sure. But I understand it just because I know -- the best way to explain it is if I wasn't Zach Johnson the golfer, I would be the one outside the ropes or watching on television back home in Iowa, cheering whomever and whoever is on from Iowa. That's just the way it is there. There's no professional teams to grab on, so they grab onto their own and they ride with them. It's pretty awesome. It's an unbelievable honor. That's all I can say.

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