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December 6, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Zach Johnson into the interview room. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yep.
THE MODERATOR: Your first appearance here at the Merrill Lynch Shootout, so just comment a little bit on your thoughts as we're getting started tomorrow.
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it's one of those events that -- I mean, even as a kid I watched it every year and I knew about it. Heck, even back then I thought it was an official Tour event because it's such a big event, even though it's on the outside of our full season.
So it is an honor and a privilege to play in this. I'm glad it worked out in my schedule, especially when you have a personal invite from arguably one of the, whatever, top golfers of all-time in Mr. Norman. It's hard not to take advantage of it. So I feel very fortunate to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously a season that you'll never forget. Comment about the win in Augusta and the season since then.
ZACH JOHNSON: It's been good. Hard still to look back and put things in perspective, but it's been a very nice 2007. Obviously a great start and I ended on some good notes towards the end of the year, too.
Middle part of the year, that was getting used to the whole winning a major thing, I think. My game, I don't know if it suffered, but it just lacked and I got sick and things of that nature.
All in all '07s been fabulous for my family and myself. A lot goals that we set and a lot that were achieved, so '08, you know, looks exciting.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Questions?
Q. You and Stewart are 1-1 I think together in President's Cup/Ryder Cup, and then I think --
ZACH JOHNSON: 0-1 -- you're right, 0-1 and 1-1.
Q. And both of you got into the World Cup, too.
ZACH JOHNSON: 0 and a lot there. I was hurt, I was sick, and I was not feeling good.
Q. What's the outlook going to be for the two of you this week?
ZACH JOHNSON: This is one where obviously we've got some of the best players in the world playing, and we're playing our own ball here and there and relying on our partners here and there, but we're going to have fun. I mean, if we can't -- and we will because we're good friends. If we can't have fun we're not going to play well.
I mean, I don't know. I'm just excited to play. To have a buddy as my partner and our two caddies get along great and we're all good friends. You have some positive energy like that hopefully it can lead to positive shots.
Q. You said middle of year you started to sort of appreciate winning the Masters, winning the major. It started to sink in more for you?
ZACH JOHNSON: No. I think it was just -- no. Well, I mean, yeah, I appreciated from the getgo and it was overwhelming from the getgo. But it was everything that comes along with it that kind of wore on me. I didn't anticipate it and I didn't know about it. I mean, how would I?
Appearances here, things of that nature kind of got to me and I got sick. I was sick for three weeks. That took a lot out of me. I couldn't play for three weeks, and that takes time. It lasts more than three weeks.
Q. The season that being the length that it's been, has there been a point you've been able to step away and look back at, A, the week, and was there some point where it really just started to sink in? And secondly, when you do look back at that week, is there a single memory that stands out most for you?
ZACH JOHNSON: Wow, it sinks in every now and then all the time. A lot of things put it into perspective pretty quick. '07 has been unbelievable. Certainly by my child first and foremost, and then I won a major on the golf course makes it extremely special. So every time I'm around him that just makes -- I mean, it can't but put a smile on your face.
I think it had a lot to do with the victory to be perfectly honest with you. All the preparation that I put in for Augusta was in the off-season, and I had to stay home because my wife was very pregnant. I was able to practice. I never did that in the off-season.
So, you know, there's a lot of things that just enabled me to look back and reflect on it, and certainly he's the one that stands out.
What was the second part of question?
Q. It was a little bit at a time then I guess. Well, did it sink in at any particular moment?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, little things at a time. I mean, yeah, the media requests and the opportunities that have been presented to us as far as traveling and playing, never had that stuff before. At least not to this level.
You know, professionally speaking, those are great opportunities and hard things to turn down, but you got to -- I did what I did for a reason, and I don't really want to stray away from that.
In saying that, I mean, it's hard to say no. That's the bottom line. So many things come -- and they're all worthy. Whether it's an appearance, playing here, playing there, so hard to say no, because you want to do it.
Hopefully sometime I can do it again. But with a young boy that's not conducive to traveling yet it's hard.
Q. And then the thing was was there a single moment about the week that stood out the most for you?
ZACH JOHNSON: During the week?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, I'm sorry. Well, there's a lot of moments. To find, pick, and choose one would be very difficult. I don't know where I'd start frankly. It seems like a blur, but yet it seems like I remember every single second. Does that make sense? It's just surreal. We use that word a lot.
Q. You don't want to get ahead of yourself, but have you had a chance to think about going to Augusta next year as the defending champ and all the different things that you're going to experience, a different locker room, hosting the champion's dinner, all the things that even has as a kid you could probably never imagine?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I thought about it, but nothing more than that. I've tried to pick the brain of some of the other champions of the Masters, you know, as far as the dinner and this and that.
But I'm going in as a rookie in that respect. I'm not going to know what to expect, and that's fine. Anything that relates to that club, that tournament, I mean, I just get chills about, so I'm very excited to go back there and defend.
Just hope my game is ready, which I anticipate it will be. But, you know, that's going to be an awesome week. That's an awesome week, win or lose, miss or make the cut. It's fabulous.
Augusta National is unbelievable. History, tradition, and the Master's tournament itself. What the people and the members there have done is arguably one of the best things in sports.
Q. Do you have any idea what your dinner is going to be?
ZACH JOHNSON: No.
Q. (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON: No, no, no. I am American. I eat anything. That's part of the problem. I don't have a favorite food. I literally would eat anything. I'll figure out something. Probably go with a Midwestern/southeast combo. My wife is from Florida and I'm from the Midwest. We'll see. I don't know.
Q. Has there been one maybe favorite thing where you've taken the jacket, an appearance or something like that?
ZACH JOHNSON: Have I taken the jacket anywhere?
Q. A favorite where you just had the most fun.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I'm trying to think. Well, we had a little bit of a small party back at home in Iowa and I took the jacket back obviously and wore it. A lot of friends and family and a lot of guys and their spouses that sponsored me from the getgo. So that was pretty cool, walking in, because they take pride in that too. They started me out in it and supported me from day one.
I also wore it to my charity visit up there. That was pretty special, I think. Just any time you're able to give back and then obviously more or less show something off like that to those people and those kids was awesome.
Q. How many of the guys got try to on at the party?
ZACH JOHNSON: That's confidential.
Q. Where is it usually?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I have it for one year.
Q. Where is it usually though? Like in your house somewhere?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yep. Somewhere in my house.
Q. What was wearing it like?
ZACH JOHNSON: It was fine; it was good. Yeah.
Q. (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON: I'd rather not. Thanks, John. I got to meet Halle Berry.
Q. What was that like?
ZACH JOHNSON: That was fabulous. That was nice. And Mr. Obama, too. So it was -- what did you say?
Q. (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. Yeah, my wife and Brad and my agent, we were there. Miss Berry was appearing on the show. I did a top 10 list and Obama and Halle were obviously the two key guests, so I got meet them both.
Mr. Obama is a huge golf fan, and Halle's boyfriend is a huge golf fan as well I guess, so we chatted about that a bit. She invited us to one of her premiers, but I had to go to Hilton Head and play. My wife was not happy about that at all. At all.
Q. How did you and Stewart get to know each other? Talk about having a friend like that.
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, I couldn't tell you the first time we met. I'm assuming it was probably when we were paired together. We got paired together a lot during my rookie and even my sophomore year. Our personalities just mesh. We had the same trainer.
Actually, I talked to Stewart about our trainer, Chris, and that's kind of how I got affiliated with that. Our wives get along great. They're kind of cut from the same mold as well. Just good friends.
Yeah, he's just a laid back guy and so am I. Got the same kind of perspective on things I think.
Q. I wanted to ask you, we were talking to Greg and asked his about how as a Master's champion you've flown under the radar. Obviously with a new family some of that has been choice. How much is by choice and how much is you're not a huge name like Tiger woods and your not recognized as much?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think it might be a combination of both. I mean, do you want the recognition? Sure, absolutely. But at the same time, I don't want to say I try to avoid the limelight, I just don't need it or necessarily want it at times.
That stuff is certainly not important to me. I just want to be the best in golf that I can be. If it means being No. 1 in the world, well that would be great. One, that's going to be close to impossible considering who my competition is.
And, two, with what comes along with that I don't know if I really want all that. The day-to-day and what Tiger goes through, I don't -- granted, if I get in that position I'm sure you get used to. It I just don't think I could do it.
I respect that man immensely for what you has to go through, and I think he does a remarkable job. But, yeah, part of it's been choice, too. This is a time of the year or time of my life where I certainly want to be with my family, when you have a newborn and other factors, too. I put a lot of weight on time off and practicing because that's what allows me to be refreshed and play well during tournaments.
I try to take November off, about three weeks. Last year I had seven weeks. A substantial difference there. Yeah, a lot has been choice, but a lot, like you said, has just kind of flying under the radar. By all means, that's fine with me.
Q. Family here?
ZACH JOHNSON: No. They went to see my in-laws.
Q. And goals moving forward?
ZACH JOHNSON: Much of the same actually. I mean, consistency is certainly one of the key words with me, and then improving any weaknesses, if you will. Those are the two vague ones. Specifically I want to win more golf tournaments. I want to be in contention and win more majors. You win one and it's -- well, I would assume it's like a drug. You just want more of it.
You just want to be in that. That's why we play the game. That's why we work so hard. You just want to be in that all the time. Majors are big. Winning golf tournaments are big. Then I remember two years ago a big goal of mine was the Ryder Cup. I don't know if that's necessarily something I'm going to put on the list.
To date, that probably is arguably the best thing I've ever been associated with that's professional. I mean, winning a major is a total individual thing, clearly. But being a part of a team like that, it was the best thing I've done professionally with other guys and family and friends.
I want that really, really bad. But if I put too much emphasis on it -- I barely made the team. I faltered towards the end of the year. If I just go about my business they take care of themselves. I think that was evident with the President's Cup last year. It's not a goal, but it's huge. I want to be on the team.
Q. (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON: Absolutely.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming by.
ZACH JOHNSON: My pleasure.
End of FastScripts