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 17, 2007

Zach Johnson


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Zach Johnson, The Masters champion. Zach, this is the 4th time you've played in The Open Championship, but this time you're coming as a Major winner. Has that changed your perception of the whole event for you?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, actually, not necessarily. My perception of every event, for the most part, has been the same. I think the reason why I've had some successes as of late on the golf course has been due to the fact that what I'm doing is right or something right and it's just a matter of polishing and getting better. My perception is the same, I'm just excited to be here.

Q. How does your preparation change for a British Open or links course, particularly, you don't play normally, as opposed to playing in The Masters or the U.S. Open?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think there's some minor changes or degrees you've got to -- varying degrees you've got to pay attention to. Everybody says you've got to hit the ball low, because of the wind conditions. But you've got to be able to hit it hot. The beauty of this tournament, and honestly it's hard to beat -- it's probably my favorite, just because we don't see this over in the States much. It's one of my favorites. The beauty of this tournament is that you have to hit every shot. It's you, the golf course and the conditions, which is the same anywhere else, but it's different. And then finally I think this tournament, more than any other tournament for me, magnifies my weaknesses immediately. It tells me exactly what I have to work on when I leave here. I've not made a cut here. I missed the cut by a shot twice, whether that's preparation or just playing poorly, I don't know, probably a combination of both.
I played the John Deere Classic every year, which I love, but it's just hard -- it's extremely difficult -- that's like a Major for me, almost. So preparation I think is also a part of it.

Q. Can you do it, can you prepare the way you want to? Are you checking weather reports when you're at the John Deere?
ZACH JOHNSON: No. Everybody says The British Open you have to bring your long sleeves and your rain gear and et cetera, et cetera. Last year we had 90 degree days Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So you see it all. The only preparation you can have is prepare for everything, if that makes any sense. Golf-wise and condition, clothing, equipment. I've heard some guys that have changed clubs and this and that. That's great. I haven't done that. I don't think I will do that, at least not right now. I don't tinker much. Once I find something I like I pretty much stick with it for a while.

Q. When you were at Augusta, congratulations, by the way, you spoke a lot about your faith. This was much remarked upon in this country. Can you tell what God means to you, and what does God have to do with golf?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I don't know if he has anything to do with golf. Golf is my job. My faith is very important to me. I'm not one that's going to flaunt it, but it's my foundation. It's what's inside of me. That's the way I feel my life should be lived.
Now at the same time when it comes to golf I don't really think God cares what I do. It's just a matter of how I conduct myself and why I play. It's my job, it's the way I support my family and it's my platform. That's the way I go about it.

Q. At the Masters you were on a mission, you said you're not the longest hitter in the world. How did the last three holes challenge players of your length given they're quite massive?
ZACH JOHNSON: They're good. I just saw them today for the first time. 16 is a long, long par-3 but it's, like every other hole, it's fair. You can hit a 4-iron. I can probably hit a 4-iron and get it to the front of the green. You hit it to a certain spot it's going to release. It depends on the wind, clearly. Today was downwind. It was a 3-iron for me today. Into the wind it might be a little more. But controlling your trajectory is more important than the actual club you're hitting.
Same thing with 17. 17, I hit 2-iron -- that was into the wind today. I had 2-iron, 2-iron, two good shots. I've heard downwind it's anywhere from a 3 to 4-iron to a 3 to 4-iron, 5-iron in. That hole is very difficult, especially if it's downwind because the green slopes away at the get go.
On 18 I hit a driver and 8-iron today downwind. Into the wind it's going to be vastly different. It's just the beauty of this course and the beauty of the conditions that are presented.

Q. Phil was saying he could see quite a big change in scores over those three holes, like 2, 3, 4 shots. Do you think that could happen?
ZACH JOHNSON: Absolutely. I would say for the most part every Open I've played the last 2, 3, 4, 5 holes are obviously what decide the golf tournament. And these three certainly will hold up to that. Regardless if you're in the lead or just behind it's going to be interesting. You'll have an opportunity to make up some ground and if you have the lead you're going to have to keep it in over drive and try to make some pars.
If the conditions are like this I don't know what the scores are going to be, I have no idea. This is obviously fairly benign. I think it's a predominant wind, westerly, south westerly, so the winds are probably I would say 80 percent of how it would be like this. But it could be stronger. It could be rain, et cetera. So I think coming down the stretch those holes, regardless of the conditions, they're going to be tough.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit about the history with you and Pat O'Brien, maybe how you guys hooked up a long time ago, and then how important putting is, obviously, to your game and maybe his philosophy on that?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, Pat, I met Pat through Vaughn Taylor. And Pat was actually a SeeMore representative on the Nationwide Tour in 2000. That's how I got to know him. We just became good friends and I started tinkering with the SeeMore putter and using his advice I got it in the bag in 2001. I've known him since. He's more a friend than anything else. He's an instructor of mine, but when he teaches it's brief. We don't like to do a whole lot. It's more of just kind of getting into the putt. We'll work on fundamentals, but it's not much. I like to do a lot of that stuff in the off-season.
You asked me about putting in general. Putting is big for every player. It's the most important part of the game. The driver is becoming more important as time has gone on, but putting is of the utmost importance, especially in conditions like this.

Q. I assume that the clubs you're playing with this week are the same ones that you won The Masters with. How worried were you that they might not make it over here?
ZACH JOHNSON: I was very concerned. I got a phone call when I was on 4 green -- fairway -- wherever -- from my trainer, who I'm staying with. He goes, where are you? I'm like, "Are my clubs here?" He said, "Where are you?" And I said, "Are my clubs here?" And he said yes. And I nearly cried, put it that way. Not that the clubs I was using were bad, they just weren't. I don't like to mess around. I'm very particular about my grips. They don't have my grips here. Obviously the irons were all the same. But everything is just a little different. The driver wasn't a big deal. It was more the putter and some of the wedges and the grips. But I was very concerned. And I'm very, very, very, very happy that my clubs are here.

Q. The other thing is you play the Deere every year and it's important to you, it's at home. But coming over here very late, maybe getting two rounds of practice in on links golf before this tournament, are your expectations very high here and can you get prepared in that short period of time?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I haven't played well yet. Like I said, I think the preparation is maybe one of the things that's lacked. I don't know if it's the preparation on the golf course, it could be the fact that I'm trying to get adjusted to the time zone, I'm trying to get adjusted to going from 95 and humid to who knows what and who knows what. That's the adjustment. Given that, as a professional I play one or two practice rounds on courses I've never seen before and I've done all right. It shouldn't be that big of a difference. You throw the magnitude of the event in, that could play in it.
I think one thing my dad kind of mentioned to me this past week. I didn't play great at the John Deere, I missed the cut by a shot. I was very rusty. I feel a lot better now. One thing he mentioned to me is that Chris DiMarco missed the cut at the John Deere and pretty much almost won the tournament anyway. It can be done.

Q. I was just going to ask you a question about him. He was one of the two big story lines here last year. In the 12 months since has really been kind of searching for it. I'm wondering since you guys play so often back home, is it as simple as the putter or the variety of injuries? Where is his confidence right now? It's not like he's missing cuts.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, he's not missing cuts, you're right. I obviously know him very well. I think there's a lot of factors involved. I think the first and foremost as a golfer we go through slumps. That's one of those things. I'm not saying he's in a major slump, but for Chris DiMarco he's in a minor depression. I think there's a lot of factors involved. You lose one of your family members, that's obviously huge. I don't have any idea how long that takes, but that's a factor. Certainly the injuries, I think that's probably the biggest factor, unfortunate ones, for sure. Outside of that, he's got kids, he's got three kids that are young that take up a lot of his time.

Q. Building a house?
ZACH JOHNSON: Building a now house, exactly. Those are the things that people aren't really aware of outside of the ropes that play into it. Those things add up, and there's things like that that really just take a toll. I know personally for me if I have issues with my bus or whatever, minor stresses just add up. But Chris will find it. His golf swing is very unique, it's very individualistic, if that's even a word, I don't even know.

Q. It is.
ZACH JOHNSON: Okay. But it's very much him. And when timing gets a little bit off, I'm sure, he's got to try to get back to where he was. There are probably some fundamental issues. He's a great putter, he always will be. It puts more pressure on the putting.

Q. Tiger would come early to play golf in Ireland. And Mickelson came two weeks ago after missing the cut at Congressional, and obviously it was tough for you because of the Deere. Could you see a scenario where you come in April or May for a week to play early or would that be too difficult?
ZACH JOHNSON: If someone gives me a plane much like those two, I can foresee that.

Q. You're through with Delta, now, aren't you?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm definitely through with O'Hare and Heathrow. Yeah, I would like to come over early. I love being in the UK, period, whether it's golf or not golf related. I think at some point there's a chance I might take the John Deere off, which might help, especially if that's the week before. I don't want to do that because that tournament means so much to me and done so much for me. But I know that -- they've even mentioned to me, they're very understanding. They know. They get it. So, yeah, preparation is great. I've done that for a lot of majors. I haven't been to Tulsa yet, but I hope I can get there earlier. Augusta is unique, if I can get there, great, but it's not a big deal because I play it every year, the other one not.
It's difficult for me to get here a month prior, go back and then come back for the tournament; however, if I'm here Friday night or Saturday of the week before that could help, especially with my rest and adjustment.

Q. For the last dozen years American players have come here and said how alien links golf is, then one of them won the tournament anyway. What do you put that dominance down to, and do you think there will be an American winner this year?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know, maybe just the fact that we don't see it that often so we shouldn't have high expectations. Sometimes when I don't have high expectations I play very well. There's no pressure, why not, that kind of attitude, which is a good attitude to have. I had that at Augusta, why not make it? If for me it's the most enjoyable tournament of the year, because we don't see it. If you're having fun, that can also add to good golf. You should have fun. It's a job, but you should have fun. It's the conditions, it's the roll of the land, the way the ball bounces. You just know why the game was made the way -- this is the way it's supposed to be played.
American golf is totally different, however I love it, especially old traditional courses of the U.S., but it's hard to beat here, very, very difficult to beat.

Q. You're getting used to being received as The Masters champion since you've won. What's your reception been like this week to come to another major overseas and be The Masters champion, as opposed to maybe how you were received here last year?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, very, very good. I haven't been here very long. I've only been here for about 24 hours, but I got right to the front of the line at Heathrow airport, that was nice. I signed an autograph, and just the green jacket carries a little bit of weight as far as queues go. Fan-wise, it's phenomenal out there. I was at Hoylake last year and St. Andrews, there seemed to be more people on Tuesday. This is more remote, that's probably why. We're pretty much out of the way for a lot of things. At the same time the people that were out there were great. I couldn't sign enough autographs. It was very, very nice. I'm seeing Masters flags and brochures and booklets and whatnot. It's pretty cool.

Q. How much more recognized are you this year versus last year?
ZACH JOHNSON: A lot more than I anticipated. It goes with the territory, I guess. I don't particularly like that at all, the limelight, but it's a responsibility. Like I said, part of what comes along with something of that magnitude, I guess. It is what it is and I'll deal with it. Like I said, I'm not changing. It's just a matter of getting used to things.
STEWART McDOUGALL: Zach, thank you very much.

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