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April 29, 2008

Johnson Wagner


DOUG MILNE: Johnson Wagner, thank for joining us here for a few minutes at the Wachovia Championship. Let's take you back a few weeks. It was obviously a long time coming. You got the first win at the Shell Houston Open a few weeks ago, and you and I were sitting just like this pretty much every day after each round. Just a couple comments on more or less how your life has changed since getting that first PGA TOUR win.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely it's changed. I'm now a winner on the PGA TOUR. I played in the Masters. I've got a lot of experiences that I didn't have two weeks ago, and my confidence is sky high and my game is great, so I'm very excited to be home this week and looking forward to a great week at Quail Hollow.
DOUG MILNE: Talk about going into this week and as it relates here, your confidence level and your ties to the area and so forth.
JOHNSON WAGNER: You know, it's never easy playing at home, but I love the golf course. I've played it a number of times, and just very excited to be here.
Confidence is high. I've had five cuts made in a row, which is good for me, especially the way I started the year, coming off a win. And I'm staying in my own bed this week, so I'm very excited.

Q. Have you been out there, and if so, how wet, or did it change the golf course from what you saw the other day?
JOHNSON WAGNER: The greens were perfect today. They were a little softer than to be expected, but they were great, rolled fast, and I think they'll firm right up.
The fairways were a little soft, but really no casual water out there at all, and it was beautiful. It was in great condition after all that rain yesterday.

Q. What do you make of this run of 20-somethings winning this year, Trahan and Holmes and -- seven maybe?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I think it's a testament to the Nationwide Tour. I know most of those guys you named won on the Nationwide Tour, and it's just -- you know, you're better prepared when you get out here, better prepared to win. I know I've heard so many times about how 20-somethings, especially Americans, aren't winning, and they're not winning enough tournaments. But I think that's going to turn around. DJ, Brandt, there's just so many good young players that are going to start winning multiple times, myself.

Q. The Nationwide Tour sort of prepares you with the familiarity of travel and all that is required?
JOHNSON WAGNER: You do everything the same way. The crowds are a little smaller, the grandstands are a little smaller, but the courses are pretty much prepared the same way and you register the same way. Everything is spot-on.

Q. And talk about winning. How much does winning change the way you approach -- you said now you expect to win.
JOHNSON WAGNER: I get to try a whole bunch of new shots that I was maybe too scared to hit under pressure, and I just don't have anything to lose anymore. I've got nothing to lose, nothing but good thoughts going through.

Q. Because you feel like you're playing a little more with house money now because you've sort of arrived and you've got a little bit more wiggle room?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Exactly. Even in the Top 10 coming down the stretch on Sunday, and I go at a couple pins because I need to make a couple birdies to get close, you know, and then I hit it in the water, let's say, and I finished 25th, it really doesn't matter. I've got my card secured, and it's not like I needed the Top 10 finish to keep my card. Now I just want to go out and win and try to win every tournament I play and try to collect trophies.

Q. Presumably this will be your first time in this tournament?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I played last year.

Q. They exempted you last year?
JOHNSON WAGNER: They gave me a sponsor exemption but I ended up getting in on my own merit.

Q. Do you get the chance to play here much when you're home just cooling your jets?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I do. My brother works for Wachovia and knows a bunch of members out here, and I know a bunch of members, as well. So I've been fortunate to come out quite a bit, and the head pro Scott Davenport lets me come out and play whenever I ask, so I try to come out here as much as possible.

Q. The reason I ask is statistically these are the toughest three closing holes on the PGA TOUR. The only one ahead of it last year was Oakmont, which isn't in regular use, of course. I wonder if you could maybe go through those three holes in your mind and talk about what makes them so brutal.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, 16, depending on the wind you're either going to have 16 or 18, they're going to play opposite, so you're going to have one long par-4 playing into the wind.

Q. No matter what?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Unless it's a crosswind, and even a crosswind, I think 14 is 490 from the back edge of that tee, and it's brutally long. Downwind today I hit driver, 5-iron.
17 might be the hardest green in regulation to hit that I've ever played. There's only a couple spots you can hit to hold it on the green when the green firms up.
And 18 is just one of the most intimidating shots off the tee, and then the second shot the creek continues to go up there, and if you miss that green it's a tough up-and-down. You really have to hit perfect golf shots on those holes.
Q. 18 is kind of uphill, too?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It is. Second shot plays ten yards uphill, and if you -- I killed a driver and killed a hybrid today to that green playing into the wind, so it can be a beast.
DOUG MILNE: You had mentioned a minute ago, nothing left to lose and you got that win. How important is win number two? Will it be kind of a validation? Do you know where I'm going?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. I don't feel like I need to validate my win. I don't feel like I came out of nowhere to win; I won twice on the Nationwide Tour. Sure, maybe number two would validate it to everyone else, but to me it doesn't matter. Number two is going to be followed by number three and so on. I'm just ready to win and rack up some titles.
Q. Do you play much with Ryan Moore?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Never. No, I've never played with him.

Q. Speaking of 20-something guys, he's one of those ones we've been waiting on for a couple years since that pedigree coming out of college is pretty unbelievable.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Wins the U.S. Amateur, Pub Links, the Western Amateur, everything.
Q. He's had some injuries.
JOHNSON WAGNER: He has, but he's a great player, and I was happy to see Adam Scott win, but obviously it would have been great for him to win last week, as well.
DOUG MILNE: Johnson, thanks for coming in. We appreciate your time. Best of luck this week.

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