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June 19, 2008

Johnson Wagner


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome the winner of the 2008 Shell Houston Open, Johnson Wagner, first round 64. You've had some good first rounds this year. Just talk about what it's like and how you've been able to start a lot of tournaments off fast.
JOHNSON WAGNER: It's something I always did well on the Nationwide Tour. Starting well, it makes it easy to make cuts and get in contention quickly. I had a great first round at Houston, great first round at Colonial and a good first round here. Hopefully this will be like the Houston tournament instead of Fort Worth.

Q. Do you consider this at all like being back in the neighborhood considering all your success in the Met section all those years?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. I was thinking about it today. When we moved up to New York it was the summer of '94, I was 14, my brother was 16, and we actually drove over here and watched the tournament Thursday, Friday in '94. And this tournament has always kind of felt good to me, just got good feelings out there.

Q. Talk about the breakthrough at Shell and how you've been playing since then. Obviously a little more confidence once you get a win?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. Winning there at Shell was incredible, really put four good rounds together, held my composure, stayed focused on every shot, and something I've been getting a lot better at since then.
I've only missed one cut, haven't had really any good finishes but I've had a lot of good rounds. I've always had that one or two bad rounds in a tournament that have kept me from really getting into contention on Sunday. But making a lot of cuts and having a lot of average finishes. But looking to break through and really hoping to start playing great golf here in the middle of the summer.

Q. How about getting into the Masters? Tell us about that experience and what was going through your mind that weekend knowing that there was a shot at that.
JOHNSON WAGNER: I was trying not to think about it, honestly, at Houston. It was hard not to. I think Saturday night I was watching Masters highlights, and my wife came back in, we had traveled in an RV, so she came back in the RV, and she said, "What are you doing watching the Masters? You can't be doing that."
It was just incredible. Going to the Masters, it was just a dream come true, really. That whole tournament and the experience there was the best of my life so far.

Q. Is '94 the only year you were here?
JOHNSON WAGNER: '94 was the only year I came as a spectator, yes, sir.

Q. You were living around --
JOHNSON WAGNER: I was living in Garrison, New York, right across the river from West Point Military Academy, where my dad was a professor for 12 years. I went to high school in the New York area.

Q. You moved there from where?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Nashville, Tennessee. My dad had gotten his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt and started teaching the summer or fall of '94 at West Point.

Q. Still go back to Hudson National every once in a while?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I haven't been in probably -- I guess it's been about a year, but I'll be going back before the Barclays this year, that's for sure.

Q. Can you talk about this course today? Obviously a lot of 64s and 65s and 66s out there. Is it just because it was soft because of the rain last night?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It was soft because of the rain. It was soft yesterday because we had had some rain on Tuesday or Monday night we had a lot of rain, and the course is in incredible condition. We had no wind, and it was just kind of out there for the taking today with it being so soft.
But get a little wind and get this place firm, and it's all you can ask for, so I'm happy to get a good round when I needed to.

Q. How many times have you played here before this year?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Just last year's tournament. It was funny, when I got my Nationwide Tour card, I became a member of TPC courses, and this was one that I always wanted to come up and play just because I was a spectator here and just loved the layout and never came back, just never got through the area again. I didn't play well here last year, but I just really -- this golf course suits my eye real well.

Q. I was going to say, you probably had a mental vision of how you would play each hole just from watching.
JOHNSON WAGNER: I think I played it on an old Sega Genesis PGA TOUR Golf a few times, too.

Q. Did you break par?
JOHNSON WAGNER: All the time. I think my highest score was 61, so I've got some work to do.

Q. Do you have a lot of family and friends here because of your proximity?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I had some friends come out from high school. They came out yesterday and watched me in the Pro-Am. Maybe come the weekend. A lot of my friends unfortunately work so it's hard for them to take off Thursday and Friday, but if I'm playing well this weekend hopefully they'll be out here.

Q. Is there anything in particular you remember from visiting this course in '94?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I just remember, my brother and I, we sat on the back of the 3rd tee box and watched tee shots for a while. Then we walked over to 15, 16, 17, walked out to 13. I don't remember any shots in particular sticking out. Glen Day hit a good shot on 16 or something. He took forever, of course, to play the shot (laughter).
No, nothing too memorable, just the whole day, just the whole trip over here was great.
CHRIS REIMER: At Colonial you talked about becoming a TOUR winner out here, but then putting on expectations. You want to win a lot.
CHRIS REIMER: It's good to hear you say that, but talk about transforming from a guy just trying to get his first win to a guy that wants to be in contention all the time out here.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, my first year out here I wanted to win. I thought I could win, but it was more about playing good golf, keeping my card. And now that I've won in my second year, I'm almost a veteran -- not really, but it's nice to get in contention as many times as I can and learn from all that. It takes so much focus and so much concentration to win a golf tournament out here that just getting in the first round lead at Colonial and thinking, oh, here we go again, I'm going to win this tournament, that's just the worst thing to do. Just have to take it one day at a time and just play golf, focus as hard as you can on each shot. The more I play, the more I learn.
CHRIS REIMER: Anything in particular from today's round, any key shots? Obviously an eagle in 15.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Eagle at 15 was great. I mean, I hit a bunch of good golf shots, had a lot of good looks at birdie and made my fair share. It was maybe the best round I've played all year, just from tree to green was fantastic.
CHRIS REIMER: Talk about the clubs on 15.
JOHNSON WAGNER: 15, it was 275 front edge. I hit driver and it landed right on the front edge on the upslope and just stuck in there and trickled out to about a foot and a half for eagle. From the way the crowd reacted it looked like it really had a good chance, so it was fun. It was nice to walk up there. I was walking up, ooh, that's getting closer and closer. It's nice when you walk up closer and they get close as you get there instead of further.

Q. Have you ever aced a par-4 before?
JOHNSON WAGNER: No, that's probably the closest I've come right there.

Q. Do you have any aces?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I do, I have seven or eight. None in competition out here, but I've got a few.

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