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September 16, 2007

Zach Johnson


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thanks, Zach, for joining us here in the media center. Nice effort this week. Great round yesterday, played well today. Just talk about the week and the year.
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, yeah, it was good. I mean, today was really a lot more positives certainly than anything. I had a couple hiccups out there. I probably shouldn't have made a bogey, but what do you do. It was encouraging because after a 60, after a ridiculous round, it's hard to come back. I had a lot of opportunities. I hit some putts that didn't go in. I hit some putts that I didn't think would go in that went in, so it probably evened out.
All in all, a lot of positives. The first round is what killed me, shooting 1-over. That was frustrating, but I recovered nicely. I feel good about this week and the year in general. Someone told me just to grade it. Obviously the beginning of the year was really good, the middle of the year was really darned average. I'd say all in all, B+, A-. Pretty good.

Q. The 9th hole you were making a little run there and he hits into you and you three-jack. I don't know if I'm putting two and two together to make four. You were kind of lining up a putt, getting ready to pull the trigger, and here comes a golf ball.
ZACH JOHNSON: I really don't think -- I don't remember thinking about it. Frankly looking back there's so many darned red shirts in the fairway I didn't know what it was. I didn't know if it was him or Calc. Maybe it was a sign for us to pick up the pace (laughter), I don't know. We were a little behind, but I missed the fairway. Sergio missed a lot of fairways, so we were kind of behind the 8 ball. It had nothing to do with it, in my opinion.
I had a good read on the first one, I just got overly aggressive, and then the next one went way right and it was a misread.

Q. Tiger shoots the lowest score in TOUR history, lowest aggregate score, just your take on his whole performance this week?
ZACH JOHNSON: Obviously that's very impressive, especially on a golf course of this stature.
You really can't because if you're ahead, he's going to catch you; if he's ahead, he usually widens it. He never ceases to amaze me. I'll put it that way. He's hard to describe.
You know, I mean, shooting the aggregate score he shot obviously is very, very, very impressive. Surprising? Maybe not so much, only because the golf course -- the greens were -- you could fly a 4-iron at the pin and it's going to release all of -- for the most part, all of two or three yards. Typically this golf course we're hitting 8-iron and you're trying to play five or six yards of release.
I mean, the golf course is lending itself to those scores. What were his 18s? 66s? Yeah, that's pretty good. So if I shot -- how many shots did I lose by? Eight? Forget it.

Q. You still would have needed 63 on the first day.

Q. Don't sweat any missed putts or anything when you go home.
ZACH JOHNSON: Wasn't it 8-under, 1-over?

Q. You were one back from him the second day on. Look at it that way.
ZACH JOHNSON: There you go. I still say it should be 54 holes, nine holes starting Thursday, beer afterwards.

Q. Does it seem like in many ways this whole FedExCup thing was one more way to prove Tiger Woods is better than everyone else?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know when I was thinking about that, but the man has got goals. I don't know what his goals are. Obviously he's trying to improve, but obviously 18 is his number, trying to catch Jack in majors. Winning golf tournaments would probably be next. You throw another thing at him, it just makes it even worse for us (laughter). Why give him another thing to try to achieve? I mean, really. It's a carrot, you're right, and he's very impressive. He's a very driven man. When you add another element to the drive, I guess, it just -- what do you do? But it makes us want to be better. I guess that's a positive. Every time he wins it's a good thing.

Q. You beat Tiger at Augusta, Cabrera beat him at Oakmont. Do you have a sense when you can give and when you can't, or do you look at this tournament and that's that? At the same time, do you all feel when he's beatable?
ZACH JOHNSON: That's hard to say. He had some things going on with the pregnancy and the baby. That stuff adds a little bit -- I don't want to say stress, but it adds maybe a little weight at times. I don't know why he didn't perform the way he is now then. I have no idea. He's swinging really good at it right now. I mean, when the man hits fairways, see ya.
Yeah, you've got to take -- to win a major in his era, that's one thing that I'm very, very proud of, let's put it that way. The man is a freak of nature. I mean, he's a normal person but he's so not normal.

Q. With scores this low, how does it reflect on the course and this tournament? Is it an aberration, or is it -- can this be considered a tournament when 23 or whatever under wins?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, some of the fairways were even tight this year, I think 4 was tight, 3, a couple others were tightened and brought in. So off the tee maybe it was a little bit more difficult, but easier -- it's all about approach shots into the greens. When you don't have to think about release or where it's going to bounce -- when the greens are firm and fast, it just brings everything in significantly. But when you can hit a high, towering 4-iron and it plugs, that just makes things easier. The course is fine. Once they go to Bermuda, which will be in place probably next year, they're saying, it's going to be firm. The first year, two years, it's really, really firm, and then they'll roll fine. After that they get to be somewhat normal. But this course is going to play a little different next year. You can't shoot 23-under.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Can we go through your birdies and bogeys real quick? You birdied 6.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, 6, I hit a smooth 4-iron to about six, seven feet -- not quite seven feet. That one hit a spike mark and went right in the middle of the hole but kept on the same line. I mean, it bounced so high.
7, birdie, I hit a good drive, a sand wedge to about four and a half, five feet, straight putt, made it.
8, hit a good drive, hit a wedge to about 15 feet and hit a great putt there.
Bogey on 9, decent drive, good layup shot, horrible wedge, three-putt from 30-some feet.
Birdie on 15, good drive, hit a solid 2-iron, misjudged a shot there, probably should have hit 3-wood because it was into the wind, and hit a flop shot up there to probably about six, seven feet and made that. That was nice.
Bogey on 17, pushed my drive, had a flier lie, had 192 yards to the hole, should have hit 8-iron, 7-iron, horrible chip, good putt, lipped out.

Q. You're 31, right?

Q. Same age as Tiger, so obviously you can't hope that he ages faster than you?

Q. Do you hope he gets bored at some point?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, that's not even in the realm of possibility. No, I'd honestly say no. One, he doesn't play every week. He plays, what, 15 to 20 events with us. I'd say when he wins it's good for us, it's great for the prize. When he wins it's good for us because it makes us want to improve, as well. I mean, I get sick of this game as much as the next guy, but it is my job and I still want to continue to improve. He's kind of set a bar and it continues to obviously go up. There's not a ceiling, put it that way. I admire the guy, there's no question about that. Anybody that says they don't has got to be pretty foolish.

Q. What are your thoughts now, you've got -- in two weeks you've got the Presidents Cup. What are your thoughts about playing in that?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm excited. I love the team atmosphere. I love everything that deals with a team, and when you're representing your country it makes it that much more special. The Ryder Cup, outside of Augusta, was truly one of the best professional experiences I've had in my life. Probably is. Augusta was one turning point, but Ryder Cup is special. They're two totally different events. I wouldn't say it's more special. I'm totally excited about that. I know most of the guys on the team obviously, get to know them even more. It's great for the wives. The wives have probably a better time than we do. As a matter of fact, I know they do.
So it's great, and having Mr. Nicklaus lead us is -- you can't -- it's like a story.

Q. When you see Tiger play like this, does this give you a greater appreciation for having been able to out do him at Augusta?

Q. To know that you did that against a guy who can do --
ZACH JOHNSON: I mean, when he's playing good -- I don't have any idea how he played at Augusta. I didn't see any of his shots except for 17 and 18 on Sunday. I hope he played good (smiling). I doubt it, but I hope he did (smiling). He can play average and win golf tournaments or he can play poorly and win golf tournaments. He's got that innate ability to -- part of it is he putts good quite a bit. His bad days are still pretty good or average, and his short game is ridiculous. Obviously everybody talks about his drives and this and that, but I'd say he's one of the better iron players out here and definitely has the best short game out here. Then you throw the mental side into it, and it's an ugly combination.

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