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August 3, 2007

Zach Johnson


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Zach, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Bridgestone Invitational. Nice solid round out there today. Why don't you just talk about what you did well today and maybe a little bit -- if there was any difference in conditions between -- it seems to be playing harder but it's not what you did.
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, thank you. I don't know, I thought it played pretty hard yesterday. It's just a matter of -- I think this golf course is just about getting the ball in the fairway. The fairways are pure, they're running fast, clearly, so it's positioning yourself in the fairway so you have an opportunity to hit the green and give yourself a birdie putt. I know it's a bit cliché, but you miss the fairway by a yard, which I did yesterday on one yard, I think it was the only fairway I missed yesterday, and I couldn't get it to the fairway. I hit it about four feet on 14 yesterday.
I actually played pretty well yesterday. I think I got to about 2-under early and played pretty solid from there on out. I just managed to miss one fairway and hit into a divot on 16.
Today obviously my score card showed that I played solid. I hit a lot of fairways. That's what it came down to, and my putter started to work. The greens are pure. You get it on line and they're going to go in. It's just about hitting those fairways.

Q. The course seems to be playing about one shot more difficult today. Did you find that, how well you played?
ZACH JOHNSON: I can see that. I mean, the wind is probably a little more severe. I think for me it was just I hit the ball just a tad more solid today than I did yesterday, and even when I did -- even my misses today, if you will, were good misses. They were to an area that I could either two-putt from 30 or 40 feet, or I could still manage to get it on the green. I mean, I hit a couple short rough tee shots. No. 9 I hit a hook, landed on the left side of the fairway and I'm in the intermediate cut on the right. I mean, left-to-right wind on a hole like that is very difficult. I understand why it's playing so difficult.

Q. Could you go over your birdies since you had quite a few of them?
ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. No. 11, I hit a decent drive, barely out of the fairway on the left, hit a 9-iron to about a foot. That was one shot that got me going.
12, I hit a 7-iron to -- I think it was probably about 175, I hit a 7-iron to 10 feet, 12 feet below the hole, pretty straight putt, made that.
15, the par 3, I hit a 5-iron, once again, to probably about 12 feet and made that. It was pretty straight.
Bogey on 18, that was the worst tee shot I hit. I barely missed the left side of the fairway and wedged it out to a really good number, hit a good wedge in there that spun back, six feet for par, and I missed it.
2, I hit a good drive, hit a 2-iron to the greenside bunker right, almost pin high, and then sand shot to about two and a half, three feet, made that.
6, hit a good drive and I was posing on my second shot. I think I got a gust or I just misjudged it, an 8-iron that landed just barely on and came back off the shelf, so I had three feet of fringe (laughing), a 30-foot putt probably. I don't know how it went in, but it did. That one was lucky.
8, I hit a very good drive, left-to-right wind and the fairway slopes left to right. I don't hit many draws in the wind very well, but I hit a perfect one there. Left myself about 130 yards down, like a downhill lie, downwind. I hit a sand wedge that landed just on the front about like 117. Went up there to about six feet, and I made that.

Q. Did you come out today wanting to attack the course, or were you just going to take kind of a conservative approach and get more aggressive as the day went on?
ZACH JOHNSON: My approach, I think any given day, is to attack when the opportunity presents itself. I mean, this golf course you can't -- clearly I can't overpower it, and I really can't even attack it. But I can pick it apart. If I've got control of my golf ball I can pick it apart, and today I did.
You know, I think you get a score in your head, you're fixated, I want to shoot so many under or whatever, for me I go astray. I'm just trying to give myself an opportunity to win the golf tournament come Sunday, and I've still got one more day to get to Sunday, so tomorrow will be the same approach as far as getting the ball in the fairway and picking it apart from there.
If I've got a left pin, my little draw is pretty much my stock shot, then I can be a little more aggressive.

Q. Did you have a number in your head today?
ZACH JOHNSON: I didn't have a number. I don't really like to do that. You know, I saw 3-unders yesterday, and I thought, man, make a few birdies here, you can shoot 3-under pretty easily. I didn't expect to shoot 65. I mean, I made some putts. That's what it came down to.

Q. With the speed of the greens, a lot of the players have talked about how fast -- I think they were 13 yesterday, and with the importance of keeping it in the fairway to have a chance, does it remind you at all of the style you have to play at Augusta? It's obviously not the same course, but the style you have to play?
ZACH JOHNSON: Absolutely. I mean, it's -- obviously it's a very different style, like you said, but my approach is very much the same. I mean, Augusta, part of the reason why I think I did well there is I -- my game plan really was pretty obvious. I've got to hit my driver solid and get it in the fairway, just like it is here, and then putt well. I guess for the most part I tend to putt pretty well on fast greens. It's kind of what I grew up on, it's what I enjoy. A little more touch involved, a little more feel involved. I mean, there's something to it -- Atlanta is usually pretty quick, too.

Q. With the Masters and your other win, I know you don't maybe think about this now, but if you were able to pull it out this week, you would be in contention for Player of the Year type status with your having a dream season?
ZACH JOHNSON: That's okay. We'll let that fall where it falls. There's still a lot of golf left. It would be an unbelievable honor, but that's the last thing I'm worried about now. My rookie year, I got that question early on after I won my rookie year, and I didn't play well again.
Those things are great when they come along, but my goal is to play well each week and let things fall where they fall. You're also talking about some of the players best in the world are going to play a lot more coming up here soon. I'm just going to continue what I'm doing. If anything, those two wins early on in the year taught me I'm doing the right stuff. I'm doing the things I need to do to be successful. If there's anybody's game I kind of looked at over the last couple years as somewhat of a model as to how they play, it's Jim Furyk. We both hit the ball -- he hits it a little bit longer than me, but for the most part I've got to hit the ball in the fairway, hit the ball on the green and make some putts. I think he's as solid as they come, clearly.

Q. How much fun or just maybe how satisfying is it to be at this level now where you're in all the events, you're in all the majors, in all the WGCs, you're part of that elite group and you're also in contention in a lot of them, too. That's a lofty jump from where you would have been a couple years ago.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, playing in the best tournaments in the world against the best competition in the world, it's great. That's why I play the game. It's easy for me to sit up here and say it, but it's true. I don't play the game for what comes along with it. I mean, it's certainly not my No. 1 priority and it never will be, and that's probably the reason why I've been playing decent.
I've played in every WGC since my rookie year and every major since my rookie year, but I've always had to kind of earn my spot, whether it's top 50 in the world or qualify for this, qualify for that. Now I've got an exemption into a lot of them for a number of years. At the same time, I'm not going to get complacent with that. Once you do that, I think things -- I'm always trying to improve. I've accomplished some goals, now it's time to set some new ones.

Q. Padraig Harrington was talking about this, about a lot of pressures which come with winning a major which you don't anticipate, and he said he had spoken to a lot of first-time winners and asked them for advice. Has he approached you?
ZACH JOHNSON: He has not. I've only seen him on one or two occasions. The first, actually I congratulated him, obviously. He gave a smile from ear to ear, and he said he needed to talk to me at some point. I don't have any idea what that's about. Maybe he's upset with me -- no, I don't have any idea what it is. But we'll see.
You know, since I've won a major, I've talked to some guys, both Masters champions and major champions about what goes along with it. Some of my good friends have won majors. There's certainly a responsibility that comes along with it that can add some pressure to it, but simple as it seems, it's just one tournament. That's the way I look at it. It's just a very prestigious event.

Q. We've already seen some awfully high scores come in this morning with this heat and humidity. Does that kind of conditions bother you, not bother you, and if they do, how are you able to stay focused?
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, extreme conditions do bother me. They bother every player. They'd be lying if it didn't, whether it's 40 degrees and rainy or 95 degrees and humid. But we've seen them all. We're accustomed to them at some point. As a professional you have to know how to play in these conditions. This wasn't terribly extreme. Even the breeze certainly helped. The afternoon yesterday was I think more humid and hot and the wind wasn't quite as severe.
But like I said, we're all pros, we've been there before, done that. It's about sticking to your routine and having a system when it comes to these conditions, and certainly drinking a lot of fluid.

Q. Would you say some of these high scores that are being shot were more from not taking your philosophy of fairways and greens?
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, it's possible. I don't have any idea. It could be a matter of the conditions, it could be just a matter of being that much off on this golf course. I had a pretty good tee shot yesterday, and I'm a foot in the rough and I could barely see my golf ball. It's getting some breaks here and there, too. Any time you're in contention or near the lead or winning a golf tournament, you've got to have some good luck.

Q. This is a big enough tournament in its own right. Given the strength of the field, the quality and setup of the course, do you also view this as ideal preparation for next week?
ZACH JOHNSON: Certainly, yeah. Some of the guys were joking around at lunch, or maybe it was on the golf course, I can't remember, that this is one of those courses where if the USGA or the U.S. Open needed an emergency course, I think you could probably come here within a week's time. The golf course is the story this week. It usually is here. The superintendent, I can't recall his name, and everybody on his staff, are certainly the ones that deserve the credit. It's very penalizing if you're off, and obviously you can put a number up there if you're on. It's very difficult. Some of these fairways are hard for me to -- if I hit it a little bit longer, a little bit easier, however -- I've just got to be that much more precise, and fortunately I was today.

Q. Do you have any memories or recollections of watching the old World Series of Golf in any of its forms? Do you remember the course from TV at all?
ZACH JOHNSON: Bits and pieces. I mean, it's just like -- watching TV and watching golf, TV just doesn't do it justice. Augusta is a perfect example. You don't realize how perfect that place is. You can ski down No. 10. It's a joke. Same thing with the British Open. Carnoustie is one of the most fantastic golf courses I've ever seen in my entire life, period; character, everything. Watching it on TV just isn't the same. But you're walking down the fairways and it's perfect. There's hills there, and you just can't tell.
I remember some of the holes, but I don't remember --

Q. Do you remember the tournaments, like who won?
ZACH JOHNSON: I remember 18, some of the finishes, especially with Tiger. I don't know how many he won in a row, three or four, something like that? I remember Fulton Allem. Fultie is pretty much a neighbor of mine, good man he is. I've got some fond memories of the place. I remember this tournament being a small field, even smaller than what it was, wasn't it like 30? But obviously the best players in the world on a -- everybody talks about Firestone Country Club, you're talking about one of the best there is. I heard the other one is good, too, across the street. Pretty pure up in Ohio. Muirfield is one of my favorite courses, as well.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Zach, for joining us.

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