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April 4, 2008

Johnson Wagner


DOUG MILNE: Okay. Johnson, thanks for joining us. It was not long ago that were you sitting in the same seat. Only managed a 69 today. What's up with that?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Good day. I had a couple bogies. Didn't make as many putts today. It was a very good day.
DOUG MILNE: Just let's see, just take us through your mindset, if you don't mind, from yesterday. Obviously such an incredible round yesterday. Kind of what you thought about, how you prepared to go into today, and were you able to execute it the way you planned it?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. I wanted to start really well today and kind of get off on the same note that I finished yesterday. I was fortunate enough to birdie 1, but then hooked my 3-wood in the water on 3 and actually hit a really good shot in there for par and missed the par putt.
But birdied the next two holes and kind of was off and running just like yesterday. Made another birdie on 8, easy birdie, and just had a really good nine holes and hit another tee shot in the water on 11, but made a good bogey putt there and birdied 13 and just missed a bunch of chances coming in, but I'm very pleased with the round. Not that it really matters sleeping on first round lead. Hasn't happened to me too much out here. I was pleased to go out and shoot a good sub 70 round.

Q. When you say you "missed chances," just missed putts?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I hit it down in front of the green, the 15th. Hit a pretty poor pitch to about 25 feet. It was just a little too far off. Had a good putt at it on 16, lipped out, good putt at it on 17, and almost chipped it in on 18. I mean no tap-ins by any means, but some opportunities that I capitalized on yesterday that I let slip away. Not a big deal and a good position going into the weekend.

Q. Conditions easier this morning than you played in yesterday?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. The front-9, it was very calm, very little, wind and just fire at the flags, but the wind picked up when we made the turn and got a little more difficult. But just like yesterday, I was pretty comfortable out there.

Q. Do you have to kind of rein yourself in a little bit? Yesterday you shoot 9-under, getting the tough half of the draw and knowing you're playing early today and that whole "I should really light it up this morning" kind of thing?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. It was hard for me the sleep last night because I really wanted to get out there and keep playing. I started great, and after I birdied 4 and 5 to get it back to 2-under. I thought I might shoot 10-under today. I'm just really confident on this golf course. It fits my eye really well, and I just want to keep going out and making birdies, doing the same thing I've been doing the last two days.

Q. You mentioned that you haven't been in this position very often out here. What's your mindset? Do you have to corral your nerves a little bit?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I'm sure this weekend, as with every round I play though, I'm sure I'll be nervous. You have to use it to your advantage, and nerves don't have to be a bad thing. They can always be a good thing. They make you focus more, take your time a little more, and got a great caddy who keeps me under control, and I'm excited to be nervous. I've been playing so bad, I'm excited to be nervous. Hopefully a chance to win this weekend.

Q. What is it about this course that you like so much, the past two years here, something just fit your eye the right way? You played so well here.
JOHNSON WAGNER: All of the above. There's nothing about this place I don't like. From the Houston Golf Association, all the people involved with them, they treat players like gold. They treat us so well here this week. The course is incredible. I love the setup. The condition is great, and I think if I had to pinpoint one thing I would say my ability to read these greens. I just feel like I see the lines really well and am able to make a lot of putts.

Q. Did you check into a membership yet?
JOHNSON WAGNER: No, but if I ever move to Houston, this will be where I play. I don't know if I can handle the cockroaches in the summertime, though.
DOUG MILNE: Palmetto bugs.

Q. Last year you shot the 64 in the third round to really put yourself in the mix. What did you take away from that experience being in contention on Sunday?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I had a great chance to win on Sunday. I started bad but then fought it back, and I think I made double on 11, tried to go at a tight right pin with the wind. I hit it in the water with a 5-iron. There was no business me going at a flag like that. I will remember that shot for as long as I play golf. There's a time and place to go for flags. When you're one shot back or two shots back with seven or eight holes to go with water looming, that's just not the right time to get aggressive, and, you know, if I'm fortunate enough to get in that position again on Sunday, I will take my chances when I should and not play aggressively on every shot.

Q. Did you beat yourself up a lot over that? Because that's right after that tournament is when you went in the lull that you referred to last year where you missed --
JOHNSON WAGNER: I was excited. It was my first Top-10. I played well all week. I did make a couple bogies coming down the stretch, but I still finished in the Top 10. It was my biggest check ever. I took nothing but positive things away from it.
I think, if anything, I got lazy after this week and thought that I had my card locked up, and I thought it would come to me very easily. But out here, I don't personally feel like anything comes easily. You have to work very hard for everything. I've learned a lot from that week and the ensuing 14 tournaments I played after that of how to handle myself and how to prepare myself.

Q. You talked about Nationwide Tour you had like about a four-year learning curve and hoping to speed up the curve here, obviously. But how do you speed up the curve on -- where the competition -- what do you think -- how do you think you're going to be able to do that very thing?
JOHNSON WAGNER: The Nationwide Tour does such a good job preparing guys for this Tour. You know, the level of play out there is incredible. There's so many guys going back and forth, and not that you're playing against Tiger Woods every week or Adam Scott, but you're playing week in, week out on Tour conditioned courses.
I feel like I've done my time. I've -- not paid my dues, I hate that cliche, but I feel like I've experienced four years of professional golf on the Nationwide Tour, four years of PGA Tour golf. And last year was my first year out here. I don't feel like I have to relearn how to play professional golf out here because I know how to. It's just putting the show out of your mind. Because it's a bigger show out here, bigger names, more people, bigger grandstands. Just learning how to deal with that, which last year helped me a lot.

Q. Have you ever been to Augusta as a spectator?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Never as a spectator. I played out there maybe four years ago. My grandmother's brother is member, and he invited me for the weekend. Stayed right off the first hole and played 36 holes, two straight days. And I definitely know I'm going to be there sometime, whether it's next week or five years from now, I don't know, but I look forward to playing there in the tournament.

Q. Did you bring the course to its knees?
JOHNSON WAGNER: No. Pretty soft. Plugged one in the front bank on 15. The member I was playing with said that wouldn't happen during Masters week.

Q. What was your high on those four rounds?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I holed out for eagle on 14 with an 8-iron. Went up the slope and came in. That was definitely the highlight.

Q. You were just excited you didn't have to putt that green, right?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I think I 4-putted it the day after that.
DOUG MILNE: How much -- obviously weather could be an issue this afternoon. You're obviously happy you got your round in.
DOUG MILNE: Focus on Round 3. Are you the type that wonders what's going to happen in the afternoon, what other people are going to do, the other players are going to, do or just stick with what you can do?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I definitely worry about what other people are going to do. There's nothing I can do about that. If someone passes me or passes me by a bunch, if Adam Scott goes out and shoots another 9-under, then, you know, I'm way back and I've got to fight back.
Hopefully I can just concern myself with what I've got to do tomorrow and the next day. But I'll definitely be looking at the leaderboard.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. If you wouldn't mind, you talked about the two bogies. If you just run us through the birdies. Give us some clubs and yardage.
JOHNSON WAGNER: No. 1, I hit it out of the left fairway bunker from about 119, pitching wedge to 10 feet, made it.
Then 4 I went for the green in 2, hit it just short of pin high in the right bunker and got up and down.
5, I hit good driver and an 8-iron from 165. 8 I went for in it 2 and hit it in the left bunker from about 265 and got up and down there from, made about an 8-footer.
Then 13, I hit it in the right fairway bunker, laid up to about 120, hit it to about 15 feet and made it.
DOUG MILNE: Okay. Well, Johnson, great to have you. We'll see you back here again tomorrow.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Sounds good. Thank you.

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