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October 16, 2008

Zach Johnson


NELSON SILVERIO: Welcome Zach Johnson. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us. Bogey free 62. I'm assuming you're comfortable with that start.
NELSON SILVERIO: Talk about conditions out there. Guys were saying it's pretty good for scoring, as your score shows.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes. We were just talking about that on the way here to the media center. It kind of feels like you're playing in a dome. I mean, you throw some grass it might fall to your left foot instead of your right foot. It's pretty benign.
Course is in great shape. Obviously there's some -- really the only thing you got to pay attention to is where the stratosphere is and the roll in the fairway. You roll out because it's a -- that's -- the fairways are rolling pretty significantly.
So I think that, you know, you get the ball on the correct side of the hole and you have some rhythm going that the greens are perfect, so good scoring conditions.
NELSON SILVERIO: All right. Questions.

Q. Two things: Yesterday when you said you're playing better now because you're putting better, was there a time maybe in the last year, a tournament, something that happened with your putting that switched it back on? And two, when you're standing on nine on the par-5, obviously you're playing real well, but it looked like you were a little upset that you had left two back in the last two holes. Is that the intensity you're talking about in terms of, yeah, you like being 9-under at that point, but you probably thought, I should've been 11 or 12?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. When did it click? I would say Saturday of last week. That's when it really started to click based on the fundamental changes that I implemented in those six weeks prior to San Antonio. I just started to get more and more comfortable. I mean, visually over the putter it felt, good and seeing my line was more prevalent.
Second part of the question, yeah, 7 and 8 were just frustrating because, I mean, you get hot and you're in a good rhythm, you know, you kind of -- I had instances where I've done that and I'm like, Okay just a par. That's okay. And I hit it close or had an opportunity.
I think on the course like this you really can't think that. You got to put the past behind you even if you did just make an eagle or a birdie. You have to stick to the present, because you never know what tomorrow or the weekend will bring. You know, even though you're so many under par, you have to try to keep fighting for more.
You know, given that, I mean, they weren't like they were four-foot putts. I was frustrated on 8 because I had a great line and a great read on it, and I just -- I don't know if I just decelerated -- I just didn't hit it hard enough, otherwise it was in. So that was frustrating.
But, you know, I hit a good drive on 7. It just went too far and I didn't have a full enough shot. Difficult to get it at the pin. All in all it was a pretty boring round.

Q. You made a bucket of birdies last year on the Bermuda greens in Texas. Was it a big transition to come here and play this desert course? You were bogey-free again today. Did it take you a couple days or did you just keep playing?
ZACH JOHNSON: Great question. It did take me a couple days. You get six feet and in and you kind of see where it's going and you can just get it online and it's going to go in.
I think out here the most important thing is speed, because there's a number of ways to make a putt, first of all. But when you get outside 10, 15 feet, it's all speed. It did take me a couple days to get used to it. I did some speed drills on the putting green, and fortunately I got it down going into Pro-Am yesterday. Right about that time I felt a lot better over those 20-, 30-footers.
You also got to read, because they're faster than last week, you got to read a little bit more break, especially if it's downhill. But I love that. For the most part, the courses I played well or had good finished on have been greens where they're pretty quick, obviously Augusta being one of them.
But other events I've played well. That's what I grew up on. If it's a six-foot putt and have to play two feet outside, that's fine. I enjoy that challenge.

Q. I'm a little taken aback by your comment to Ed a minute ago that you categorized your round as boring. How is 62 boring?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, yeah, I probably should have expanded on that. I feel boring golf is one where you hit the ball on the fairway, hit the ball on the green, and give yourself a chance at birdie.
So it was boring as far as that goes. I hit a lot fairways. I missed one on 7 just because I just hit it too far. I don't think I've ever said that. Then I think I missed a fairway on 11, but that was it.
So all in all, I hit my driver. Didn't hit a 3-wood either. No, I hit a driver every hole, every par-4 or par- 5, obviously. So it's just one of those where I picked my target out and swung at it and it was pretty close and dun, dun, dun, da, da.

Q. Will you take boring for the weekend?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'll take boring for three more days.

Q. I wondered how much carryover from your play at San Antonio do you think was the result of your round today, especially with your ball striking?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I think it's just the confidence. You know, confidence in that my fundamentals are going the right direction, and confidence in my execution has been good, especially down the stretch.
Today's Thursday. Let's just take it at that. I still got three more days of golf. Tomorrow I'm even par. That's my outlook. I'm going to try to keep the momentum going because I think that's important, but like I said before, you got to forget about the last hole, the last day, and I'll just be confident.

Q. What are you thought in the absence of Tiger, as other guys, like yourself who won last week and you're leading here, could win this week. Not that you didn't have a name before, you won the Masters, but can you talk about what his absence has done for the TOUR, and then someone like you who is even more so now in the spotlight?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'll preface my answer by saying I think it stinks that he's not playing. I understand obviously. Having Tiger Woods out of golf, who's the most recognized athlete, certainly the most recognized golfer, but most recognized athlete out of our sport for a certain period stinks. He elevates not only the game of golf, he elevates us as far as trying to be better. So in that regard I don't -- I wish he was playing. However, obviously I understand.
Now, what that does is gives other people an opportunity, and I think that's great. I mean, the individuals that have stepped up since he's been out, we've all known they're world-class players, phenomenal players, it's jsut now they're really starting to surface.
Obviously Vijay has been around for years and he's arguably one of the best players of all time. You get the likes of Anthony and Camillo and those young kids right there that are great talents.
Even like a Dusting Johnson whenever that was, I guess two weeks ago. I mean, we've all known. We've seen it. Inside the ropes, his peers, we know what they can do. We know what he can do, but now you're starting to see it.
You know, I don't want to get too obvious here, but Tiger wouldn't be playing now anyway. But, you know, right, since the U.S. Open, yeah, you know, you're seeing some great names surface that are great for the game of golf.

Q. When you're playing well like this, does your interaction with Damon change at all? Do you spend more or less time, or is it just the same as some of those days when you grind it out?
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, I kind of -- last week, for example, I got a little nervous after the first hole on Sunday. I made a birdie.

Q. (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON: I know, but I got a little knee jerk, just a little jittery. I just started bringing up random conversation with him. We have random conversation occasionally, but I brought it up on purpose, and I rarely do that. We had a little bit more of that going on that day.
Now, the back nine I was pretty much in my game and trying to stay focused, and he allows me to do. The things he does say, if he does speak, I know he means it. It's important. He's a pretty docile individual, I guess, if that's the correct term. I don't know. Which is good for me, because I can get jittery.
Today, no, it wasn't any different. It was just business. Same, same, same. I could have shot 75 and probably wouldn't have been any different.
NELSON SILVERIO: Okay. Thanks, Zach.
ZACH JOHNSON: Thanks, appreciate it.

End of FastScripts

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