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May 13, 2009

Zach Johnson


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Zach Johnson to the interview room. Zach is the defending champion and just finished with his Pro-Am round. If you'd talk about your thoughts on coming back, even seven months later and how the course played today, and we'll take questions.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. I love coming back to places where I've got good feelings. You know, granted, it was only seven months ago, so it's going to be even more fresh than a year.
I thought today was great. I mean obviously I got to tee off really early, so early on in the day there was probably more wind than I even anticipated. You know, a club at least, probably about a club, and as the day progressed, it became two clubs of wind. It was pretty intense. So trajectory control in winds like this was certainly paramount.
The golf course really isn't a lot different than what I saw seven months ago. It's rolling nice on the fairways, and I think the heat got to the greens a little bit, but if you hit it on line, it's a pretty good chance they're going in. A little slow, but it'll get quicker as the week goes on. Humidity and heat probably play a part in it. But they're still pretty good. Best putter and ball striker should come out on top.

Q. When you look at a guy like Justin Leonard who has not only won here, but had a couple runner-up finishes, been in the Top 10, 50 percent of the time he's been here, what is it about certain courses that meet the eye of certain players?
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, I think part of it is just what he's accustomed to. Growing up in Texas playing most of his amateur and a lot of professional golf in the state, he's familiar with these elements, specifically the wind.
This course has other elements. You have the elevation change. So I think, like I said, trajectory control and accuracy off the tee, especially, is important. And our games aren't a whole lot different, Justin and I. His resume is a bit different. But other than that, our games are pretty similar in the sense that fairways are premium and after that we rely on our short game.
So it isn't surprising that he's played well here, and once again, get maybe one good week, two good weeks here in a two or three-year period, that confidence can carry over to year after year. So I think that's also pretty evident with his game.

Q. Do you have a place, a course that meets your eye to that degree?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I've had a lot of success at Sugarloaf, but we're not playing there anymore, unfortunately. Couple wins and second places there, so yeah, there's certain courses I feel like my game -- Bay Hill, I've had a lot of Top 10s. Granted, it was my sixth year on Tour, but I think I've finished the Top 10 at least three or four times. Never won.
It's one of those things where certainly depends on how I'm hitting and striking the ball, but yeah, there's certain courses that lend itself -- I love tree-lined yard courses, Midwest-style golf courses. I certainly love TPC Deere Run, the John Deere tournament. It's fantastic. And a couple others, Muirfield, Lake Jackson. I've had some good weeks there. I try to play the ones that suit my game.

Q. This tournament moving to the spring maybe will get a little more attention now. When it was held in the fall all those years, what was the reputation of this tournament among players?
ZACH JOHNSON: It's hard to say because you know, last year was my fifth year on Tour, so for me to get into the reputation of it, I really don't know, but I can tell you based on having the Texas Open behind it, the history that's behind that, the tradition that's behind that carries a lot of weight.
The fall, there was a period there where this tournament was kind of questionable, and certainly Valero stepped in, San Antonio stepped in, Golf San Antonio specifically really stepped in. I mean from a charitable standpoint this tournament is No. 1 on the Tour.
I'm not trying to give attention here, but that is amazing. Year after year, top one or two every year. So the tournament's elevated its stature here in San Antonio.
Now, dates wise, it hasn't been great. Granted, Fall Series, I played last year for the first time. But I thought the tournaments were fantastic, specifically this one. I'm partial.
This year, having the FED EX, being part of the FED EX schedule adds an element to it, too, so I think it's just going to increasingly get better year after year.
I love La Cantera. I know we're changing venues next year. Whether that helps or doesn't help, I don't know. That's too hard to say, but I know with the support of Valero and what they want to do as a partner of the PGA TOUR, we're going to see bigger and better things in the future.

Q. This tournament, it's interesting that you won here last year, and then it really kind of sparked you.

Q. I know confidence is a big part of that. But you look back at Bart Bryant winning and then just won Memorial, won THE TOUR Championship. You look at what Justin did. Is it because this tournament was late in the year and then you were able to carry it over?
ZACH JOHNSON: That's probably part of it. At the end of the year -- you certainly want to win at the beginning of the year, but you also want to kind of cap it off and a little icing on the cake.
My year last year was kind of lag from '07, I think. '07 was unexpected, but a bit of a shock to the system with what I did. So my expectations going into '08 were pretty high. And looking back on it, I probably had too much expectations. I don't really like expectations, period.
So you know, I took a good period off before the Texas Open, and came down here refreshed, and you know, seeing clearly and feeling physically feeling very good. And you know, it was just one of those things where I kind of got on a roll early on in the week and just let it ride.
So yeah, I mean you want to end on a good note, and for me that confidence certainly led into '09.

Q. I know you said that you don't know whether moving venues next year is going to help this tournament or not, but just between that, though, going into the spring, do you see the stature of this tournament?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. Absolutely. There's more at stake. You're talking about, like I said, FED EX points, that's huge. That's a lot at stake. I mean when we get to the FED EX playoffs, these type of events hold just as much weight as the other events. Outside a major, of course, or end of the season. But it's just going to elevate this tournament more.
Now, also, I think you look at the fact that it's in a nice three-week stretch in Texas. That's another ingredient that's really attractive. And you know, who knows? I mean you're also talking about this event sitting in between some majors. So guys are really trying -- my schedule isn't entirely based on majors, but at the same time I'm trying to prepare for those the best way I know how, whether it's an off-week here, two weeks off or three weeks on.
Guys play certain weeks, and there's not a bad tournament in our schedule, period. And the ones that really this time of year have really elevated their stature, it makes it even harder to take weeks off. So I think you're going to see this tournament get, like I said, bigger and better as the years go on. And once again, tradition certainly doesn't hurt, and Valero is doing all they can to make it better.
Once again, the charitable giving that this Golf San Antonio and the Texas Open is a part of is -- as a matter of fact, I got to see it firsthand yesterday. It's fascinating.
MARK STEVENSON: We good? Okay. Thanks a lot, Zach and good luck this week.
End of FastScripts

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