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December 13, 2007

Zach Johnson


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Zach Johnson into the interview area. Zach with a 3-under par 69, 10 of 13 fairways, 14 of 18 greens, 28 putts, not bad for your first trip around, I guess, and welcome to the Target World Challenge.
ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you. It's one of those things, I guess I really didn't have any expectations. It's kind of they call it the silly season. If this is a silly tournament, then we've got to recheck our tournament protocol because this is as good as it gets as far as I'm concerned.
But yeah, I'm very pleased with today. I hit a lot of good shots. I made some putts, missed some putts, pretty much evened out, I think.

Q. Obviously a fantastic year with the Masters. Can you look back and review it at all, and can you still believe you're playing that well throughout this long period of time?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, the first part of your question, yeah, I mean, look back and reflect on that. Those are positive thoughts right there, I mean, thoughts that certainly just give you confidence and give you the realization that you can perform at a high level in a high arena. I mean, -- what was the second part of the question?
Oh, yeah, that's what I'm supposed to do. I don't expect to play well every week or every day, but I mean, yeah, I expect a lot out of myself. Scores, you know, I don't really look at that a whole lot, but I want to keep improving. That was one of the most encouraging things about Augusta or the whole year is I know I can improve. I won after Augusta, which certainly helps my confidence and my momentum, but I know there's still a lot of room for improvement.
I can certainly get longer, that's very evident. I mean, somehow. Titleist has really helped me out and they're really trying to figure out how to do that with technology. I've got no complaints there. They've been patient, I've been patient.
Physically I can get stronger, so I'm working out. The whole year has been good. And I've got a baby.

Q. Do you go places now and do they know who Zach Johnson is?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, that happens more often than it did prior, without question. I'd say once the Ryder Cup hit there, too, there was a change, as well. Augusta certainly did. Any time you do something like that and that's sort of a spectacle, I mean, things are going to change a little bit as far as notoriety and whatnot.
I mean, look at DiMarco. He finished second at Augusta and he finished second at the British Open. I'm around him all the time, and he's a good friend. That guy, I think his face is more known than mine now, and that's good because that's the way Chris is.
If you play well in contention like that and you perform well in an event like that, things are going to change like that. But I don't want it to be much more than what it is right now.

Q. Obviously the attention and the demands escalated after you won. Have you had any chance to just sort of decompress from it all, and have you sort of developed a game plan to deal with all that going forward, and has any of that been difficult?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, I've had that question a bunch. My best response is yeah, it's been very difficult. The difficulty lies in the fact that we're just inundated with stuff. Some of it is chaos and you've got to control that, of course, but a lot of it is just stuff. It's just substance that you've got to go through, whether it's requests or mail or signings or -- I'm on the phone with my agent at least once or twice a day, minimum, just trying to figure out a game plan and scheduling, things of that nature.
Decompressing, yeah, I mean, I've taken time off. I feel like there's no reason why I can't keep going the way I'm going. You've got to take time off. I put just as much value on time off as I do playing. Clearly the best player in the world takes time off and comes back fresh for a reason. I know I should do that, too.
It's understanding your limitations, it's understanding kind of how you perform best, and I think I did that pretty well after Augusta. I got sick during the middle of the summer, so I learned a little bit there, for sure. But just worn out. But all in all, I think we're going in the right direction, and I've got a great team to help me.

Q. (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes, all the time.

Q. When you said early on about silly season and your checking the protocol, does this not feel like a silly season event to you?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, it does not.

Q. Why?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I mean, it's set up -- we've got a dining area. Everything from the locker room inside to registering to the rules officials on the golf course. I mean, last week wasn't, either, but it was a team event. That was a little bit different. This week just feels like another week. It's just nice being in twosomes with 16 guys. And the purse is phenomenal, and the sponsors here in Target and Williams and Dole or whoever, they've made it into an event that -- it's a PGA TOUR event. It's almost like a World Golf Championships without a full field. It's awesome.

Q. Do you take yourself seriously out there?
ZACH JOHNSON: Absolutely.

Q. As much as you would at the --
ZACH JOHNSON: I didn't make any cheese at the Skins Game. I've got to make some cheese this week, baby.
I mean, here's the thing. Can you take it not seriously at times? Absolutely I can, but every time I do that my game goes astray and it's a little harder to get it back. Even if I'm playing poorly, I've still got to give it a shot. I'm obviously not going to give up, but I'm not going to take it lightly because you can't do that. I don't know how to compare it, but you can't take your job lightly for one week. You know what I mean? It's not something I tend to do.

Q. Also I wanted to ask you, I don't know what your schedule has looked like the last two or three years, but winning The Masters and going through this first year of a new schedule, does that cause you to rethink things for next year?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. You mean as far as the opportunities in '08?

Q. Any kind of appearances or anything or opportunities, but whatever your schedule has been, your TOUR schedule has been, does it change now that you've --
ZACH JOHNSON: No, I don't think so. I mean, it's going to be pretty similar. I mean, the FedEx obviously has changed everybody's schedule to an event. You're playing a little heavier in the summer, some guys not. You're playing a lot. I mean, '08, I don't play a whole lot on the West Coast. I typically, if have the luxury of going to Mercedes, I'll play both of those and I might play two or three after that on the West Coast and then get ready for the East Coast, which is typically when I start to peak a little bit.
If things are going the direction they should, there's no reason to change it I don't think. As you're aware, there's one more week now before Augusta, so that's the only difficulty because of the timing.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about today's round and what you like and don't like about this course?
ZACH JOHNSON: Today's round was great. I thought I covered that. I hit a lot of good shots, hit a lot of greens, hit a lot of fairways, made some putts, missed some putts, pretty much evened out. I made a sand shot, so that evened out some of the putts I made for sure. All in all, a lot of positives.
The golf course itself, what do I think about that? I'm trying to think of a bad hole. I mean, sure -- I can't find a bad hole, first of all. I like the fact that there's five par-3s. That's not normal. I think that's nice. The rules officials can tweak it a little bit and put tees in different spots, and it's different every day. There's a lot of character, and there's not one hole similar to the next. A lot of elevation change, it's great, and the houses aren't shabby.
16 I hit one of the better drives of the day, and I'm sitting there perfect, I've got a perfect yardage, just a normal 3-wood. It's going to fly to the front of the green if not further. It wasn't easy, the ball was sitting a little bit down in the fairway and I kind of chunk pushed it -- well, I didn't kind of, I pushed it big-time into the water, and now my options were to -- my only option was I had to drop it on the clippings, whatever you call those, like bark shavings. What do you call that stuff? Whatever.
So I cleared like a drop area because I had good yardage because I could clear that stuff out without touching the dirt, dropped it on it, and it literally bounced probably three or four feet forward, it's sitting up on top of this bark, and I slid underneath it, in the bunker, made a bunker shot, 5. I had to do that myself. I had no idea. I was just trying to get up-and-down.

Q. While you were out on the course today the Mitchell report came out, and 85 Major League players were named. As a fan of sports in general, does it sadden you a little bit?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, any time something like that happens, it's obviously not a good thing. I'm not a huge baseball fan per se, but I haven't seen the Mitchell report yet. I've heard some things on ESPN Radio prior to getting here, but does it surprise me that things keep coming out like this? Absolutely not. It doesn't surprise me. I don't know anything about that stuff frankly, but those type of athletes, whether they're football, baseball, basketball, what have you, are playing at a very high level, and their bodies are certainly taking a toll. I don't have much opinion on that. I don't understand it. Giving an opinion on it would probably be completely ignorant because I don't know anything about it.

Q. Given that, do you think the fact that the TOUR is bringing in testing next year is necessary?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I appreciate you calling us athletes (laughter). You know, necessary? Probably, just because I think to date we're the only sport that didn't have any sort of testing. I don't think it's going to be much of an issue, and I say that because I haven't heard any rumors, I haven't seen anything, I don't know anything. Is that naïve to think? Potentially. I don't know.
I think the TOUR is just touching all the bases to make sure that our sport is held in high regard. There's a lot of integrity involved, a lot of -- it's a gentlemen's game. This should or could help maintain that even more than what it is, which is pretty good. Our product is awesome. The most recognizable athlete in the world is playing our sport. That's pretty good.

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