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April 3, 2008

Johnson Wagner


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Johnson Wagner to the Media Center here at the Shell Houston Open.
Virtually flawless 9-under par 63. Apparently you don't take kindly to people one-upping course records. Talk a little bit about the day.
JOHNSON WAGNER: The day started great. I was playing with Shane Bertsch. We played practice rounds together this week. Had a very good feeling going into the day. Started with three pars, didn't panic. I know I can make a lot of birdies out there. The floodgates just came open, and they started rolling in.
DOUG MILNE: What does this do for your momentum? Hadn't been the ideal start to the 2008 season, but rounds like this got to really kind of -- reassert and know that you're good enough to be out here and really get to the next level.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. Not that I didn't spend a lot of time working this off-season, but in the past month I've been working really hard with my coach and really seeing some good things come in the last couple of weeks, and hopefully it's a sign of a lot of good rounds to come this year.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. We'll take some questions.

Q. Johnson, obviously last year you had a good round, and this year you follow it up. Something about this course, huh?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I love it here. I love the Houston area. The greens are phenomenal. The setup of the course of getting guys ready for Augusta fits my game really well. I like fast greens. I don't mind no rough. My sprayed drivers I can have a chance to make birdies. I can't say enough about the course. I think this is going to be a place that I'd love to return every year I'm out here.

Q. How did you contend with the wind?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It was -- it was pretty consistent, coming from the same direction all day. It was very easy to read. I've been striking the ball pretty solid. The wind maybe three weeks ago, that kind of wind would have hurt me. I've got some confidence in my swing and game.

Q. What were your thoughts staring down that eagle on 8?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I didn't stare it down for long. About a foot and a half. It was nice. The shot came out a little bit right of where I wanted it. Trying to go to the center of the green. Came out just perfectly, landed on the front, and rolled all the way up there. Heard my mom whistling. She's got a loud whistle.

Q. What club was that you hit?
JOHNSON WAGNER: 18-degree hybrid.

Q. Did you have any flicker during the day when you're look at the leaderboard, "That is my course record"?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I looked online this morning, I saw he was 5-under or 6-under through 8. Said, "Oh, boy, there it goes."
Walking down our first hole No. 10 today, I looked over at my caddy, we saw the board. He was 9-under with one to go.
I said, "There it goes, it's gone."
He said, "Well, the day not over yet. You still have a chance."
I didn't think I would need eagle, birdie to do it, but pretty happy it happened.

Q. Who is your caddy?

Q. Holes going into the wind, one or two-club wind?
JOHNSON WAGNER: There's a lot of crosswinds with this kind of wind on this course. The only dead downwind or into the hole is No. 18 and No. 1. No. 1 was at least a two-club wind. I hit a 7-iron from 135. It was definitely blowing pretty good at this point. The rest of the course is protected pretty well with all the trees. You keep it down the wind, doesn't hit it too much.

Q. Can you kind of talk about the state of where your game and mind was when you missed six cuts in a row and obviously been working on some things.
JOHNSON WAGNER: You know, I was getting frustrated more than anything, because I didn't feel like I was playing that bad. I was just making doubles or untimely bogey and just costing myself a round, getting down on myself instead of just trying to make birdies to make up for it.
I went through a stretch last year, I think I missed 13 of 14 cuts and still kept my card, finished top 100 on the money list. I know how long the year is out here, and missing six cuts at the beginning of the year is not a big deal. That's kind of what I keep telling myself, that there's -- I got 30 events left to play if I want. I'm really not worried about it.

Q. Interesting kind of transition you had to make because your last year at the Nationwide Tour were very consistent, you know, and it's been a little bit more boom or bust?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It has been. The courses out here are a lot tougher. The competition is a lot deeper. The fields are world class every week. Not that the Nationwide Tour isn't. That was after four years of playing out there, my last year I only missed three cuts. Hopefully my learning curve will be a little shorter time out here, and hopefully the rest of this year and for the rest of my career, I'll be a more consistent cut-making player.

Q. What do you feel better about with your -- you talk about three weeks ago the wind would have really had you out of sorts. What are you doing better?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I'm not curving the ball as much. I generally play a pretty big draw, lot of right to left, and I can get in trouble with that in the wind, especially left to right wind, trusting it, drawing it back in. I hang a lot out to the right. I hit the ball straighter now. It's a lot easier to judge the wind.

Q. Do you have any other course records that you still hold?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I don't think I've ever held another course record anywhere other than this place.

Q. Not even junior high? High school?
DOUG MILNE: 63 your lowest?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Yes. On the Nationwide Tour.

Q. Do you have any Australian descendents or anything?
JOHNSON WAGNER: The Aussies play great here. Hopefully, I can take one of them down.

Q. What did you take out of your good finish at Mississippi last year which kind of capped your season? You talked about that earlier, really, it's a boom or bust tour. You hit a couple home runs and can strike out the rest of the reason.
JOHNSON WAGNER: One good week out here can make your year, and, you know, that was a week where I started slowly that week. I had one great round and played okay the other two, and I ended up finishing second. It was a lesson in patience because you don't have to shoot 8-under every round to win out here. You have to play solid and consistent. Let me know that patience and consistent play is the way you get it done.

Q. Did you have a chance in the last nine?
A I did.

Q. What's it like?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It was good. It was exciting. That golf course is a pretty tough coming in, lot of water and demons out there. Chad Campbell played great coming down the stretch, birdied 16 and 17 to kind of seal the deal, but it was a great week, and it was nice to secure my card there.

Q. Any thoughts about what they might try and do to Johnson-proof the course?
JOHNSON WAGNER: No. No. Grow the rough up real high? Maybe.
DOUG MILNE: If you wouldn't mind taking us through your birdies and eagle. Give us some clubs.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Okay. 13, the par-5, I hit driver, 3-wood about 50 yards short of the green, and hit a little lob wedge in there to 10 feet and made the putt. 14 hit a 4-iron landed perfectly. Rolled up. Almost went in. I think it was about 8 inches to a foot just right of the hole.
18 made -- hit wedge into the green, made about a 35-footer from behind the hole. 1, 7-iron in to about 10 feet. 5. 5 was an 8-iron to about 10 feet. 6 was a wedge to about 15 feet. 8 was a hybrid, 2 feet, foot and a half. And 9 was a 4-iron to about 5 feet, 6 feet.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Anybody else?

Q. Any good perks from your sponsor, Geico? Do you get free insurance?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I can't comment on that. I get unlimited Geico headcovers for my driver which I like.

Q. Johnson, I was out doing another interview. This kind of round and these kind of conditions, did you take any what you thought were risks to make this happen or all as routine as you make it sound there?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It was pretty routine. The course is in such great shape if you can just drive it in the fairway. The fairways are the best I think I've ever played. The greens are the best I think I've ever played. If you can put it in the fairway and give yourself a look from 15, even 20 feet, I felt like I had a great chance to make everything I looked at and I hit it very good today. I putted even better and it was just -- everything went right for me today. The putts all dropped.

Q. I came in from Charlotte because I heard you might play well.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Johnson, thanks for joining us. Congratulations on a great round. Good luck tomorrow.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Thanks, guys.

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