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May 17, 2009

Zach Johnson


DOUG MILNE: All right. We'd like to welcome the 2008 and now 2009 Valero Texas Open champion, Zach Johnson. Congratulations, overall great week. 67 yesterday. Getting the job done today. Congratulations with the win. You pick up 500 FedExCup points to put you into first play. Congratulations on that. Just some initial thoughts about the day.
ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. First of all, thank you. You know, obviously come off yesterday -- I mean going into Saturday -- we'll go back there. That was kind of a day just to get myself in position for today. Didn't anticipate a 60. I mean who ever does?
But you know, I felt good coming into today. I know it's hard to back up a round like that, and I certainly didn't play my best today, but there was times there when I could have gone further south, and I managed to -- whether it was a one-two putt or a difficult shot or taking my medicine when I got myself in trouble, you know, I kind of just remained patient and persevered, so you know, I feel very lucky.
I don't know. I came down the stretch there. I hit quality shots the last three holes, especially, really good shots. And when you're in contention, all I want to do is trust your numbers and trust your clubs, and I did that. I really didn't show it on my scorecard, but my execution was really, really good, and for that, I'm proud of that.
James obviously played a ridiculous round of golf today. It's one thing to shoot 8-under on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, but to do it on Sunday is just stellar.
So I feel lucky. I gave myself a chance on 18. Again, had about the same number as I did in regulation and wanted to leave that one short.
DOUG MILNE: We'll just jump in for some questions.

Q. You had a couple putts you nailed from the first putt off the green. Did it feel a little bit like a fight down the stretch there?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. A little bit. I mean once I made birdie on 12 -- 13, I really calmed down. I mean I was hitting quality shots. The next -- even the last five holes I really didn't miss a shot.
I mean I had a terrible chip on 14, kind of a squirrely lie, but it was a bad shot, and I hit a bad 8-footer, whatever that was, 8, 10-footer and made par. So I mean outside of that, I gave myself a chance. That's all I was really trying to do was trying to get to 16-under, if possible, and see where things would fall.
Granted, I mean I had some help. I mean obviously Paul played great, but made a few mistakes on the last couple holes. I'm not sure if I would not have won the tournament per se, but I certainly didn't lose it and just kept myself in the game, and for that I'm proud.
It's one thing to be in contention. It's another to just hit good shots down the stretch, and I thought I really did that.

Q. Your club into 18 in the playoff?
ZACH JOHNSON: 6-iron. Punch 6-iron. They were both punch 6's, both in regulation and in the playoff.

Q. How big of advantage do you feel hitting it close and sticking it tight on 18 on the playoff?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I mean, yeah, I was hitting the first shot on the fairway. I don't know if that's an instant advantage. It could be disadvantage if you hit a poor shot. So I hit a good one. It is kind of a match place in a row. At the same time I just wanted to give myself an opportunity.
You know, hitting a punch 6 up there, I had the right number. I was one yard different than regulation, and I just hit a little bit easier, obviously, and I had 10 feet.
So you want to put the pressure on your opponent. There's no question about that. It's not like he hit a bad shot. He hit 20-plus feet. He hit a good putt. So it just kind of went my way.
Someone asked me out there if it was an advantage to maybe playing and not waiting like he did, and it very well could have been. I was certainly rested, and I was able to go to the bathroom after regulation, which was huge. (Laughs).

Q. I heard you say "sorry" about that when you walked on the tee.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. I didn't want to wait too long. I was trying to hurry.

Q. It was kind of a wild day out there. I think with four holes to play there was still like seven guys within a stroke of each other.

Q. You were playing with Justin Leonard, three-time winner. Did you half expect him to, you know, make a charge at the end there?
ZACH JOHNSON: Sure. He's a world-class player. His resume is obviously extremely deep. I mean, yeah, you expect anybody on the board to make a push.
I really didn't look at the leaderboard until probably about the par-5, 14. So I knew -- I didn't know if I was tied for the lead, two back, whatever. I had no idea, but I knew I was around and I could kind of feel that I was around the lead.
You know, once again, I was just trying to keep myself in. Early on in the day I was probably playing a little safe and a little too, you know, outcome-oriented, but I managed to right the ship again and hit good shots coming out. I was hitting a lot of shots left, but it was just an alignment thing. I figured it out and I really didn't miss a shot the last five or six holes.

Q. What did you know about James Driscoll before today?
ZACH JOHNSON: I played with him a couple of occasions. He's been out here for a number of years. He's a strong player. He's a young guy. I mean he's very fit, obviously. He's kind of your typical 30-something that's going to be out here for a long time, I think.
He's a great guy, first and foremost. I hope it's kind of a way to catapult his career. Obviously his career's been great so far, but I mean I hope it -- he could take it as a learning lesson. It's not like he lost the golf tournament, by any stretch. I mean he for the most part went out and tried to win it. So I think he'll learn a lot and I think you'll probably see him in the winner's circle or in contention a lot more often.

Q. I can't imagine you were thinking about Wachovia when you walked out on the tee today, but now, looking back on it, how important was it to get this win given what occurred at Quail Hollow?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. That's a good point. I think it was big. I mean, yeah, my confidence, I don't want to say it was shattered, but it was a shock to my system, that Sunday in Charlotte. I mean I was obviously playing good golf, and that Sunday didn't go my way. I felt a little rushed, had kind of a stressful morning.
And today was great. I woke up, had a lot of sleep. Fortunately getting done yesterday was big. And you know, just tried to rely on what got me here. There's no reason to change things or fix things. I'm not going to go out there and try to manipulate my game for some reason. I can only do one thing and that's hit fairways and greens and try to make putts.
Yeah, struggling was a good learning lesson. I was a little rushed in Charlotte and today I remained patient and good things happened.

Q. Can you say why you were rushed?
ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, no. We have a bus, an RV coach bus, and I had some issues early on in the day that kept me longer than normal at my bus in the morning. And I'm not superstitious, but I'm a very routine-oriented guy. I like to get there at a certain time, do my workouts and eat, and everything is kind of not to the second, but certainly within a few minutes of doing the same thing every day. Just kind of keeps me in that mode, keeps me in a good rhythm. And I didn't have a good rhythm, I think that morning. I think that's really what kind of got me off to a bad start.
Not that you're going to notice, but if you were to go back and look, every shot I missed, for the most part I missed right. I was out in front of it. I was out in front of myself the entire day. It's unfortunate, but I think everything happens for a reason. I think that was a good learning lesson for me, and today I was able to, you know, like I said, stay in the present more, and continue to fight.

Q. Was the course a little tougher today?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, the scorecard shows it. You know, yesterday is just kind of an anomaly. I don't really know how to explain it. It was one of those days I'm getting ready to tee off and they blow the horn, and when I'm getting ready to play, it was the same conditions as it was Thursday and Friday. And then the front came in and it was totally, totally different after that. It was two systems colliding. The wind did a 180 on us. So I didn't know what to expect on the golf course. But I putted really, really well yesterday.
I mean aside from the 20-footer that I missed on 8 and probably about a 15-footer that I missed on 9, I didn't miss a putt. So it was one of those strange occurrences that, you know, things just kind of happen.
And I don't know. It was just -- it was one of those zone rounds, I guess you would say. Today was about the same.

Q. Was the wind a factor today?
ZACH JOHNSON: The wind was a factor today, absolutely. It was a full club, almost two clubs at times depending on whether it was straight on or straight into you. Crosswinds, probably half a club maybe depending on the shot you had.

Q. Zach, we joked about it when you came in, but your winning percentage at LaCantera is very solid. You've had two wins here and now you transition to the Norman course next year. Must be kind of bittersweet for you.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. It is bittersweet. Exactly right. Bitter in the sense I like this golf course. I love the character that it presents. It's got left, right, up, down, short, long. Wind is always the element that plays a factor. And I love all that.
The Westin is fantastic. Obviously everybody here that works here at LaCantera has been great, so bitter in that sense, but sweet in the sense that I know Valero and I know Tony and Golf San Antonio wants a new chapter, and this town probably deserves it. This tournament deserves that and the Texas Open deserves that. They're excited. There's no reason for us not to be excited.
When it comes down to it, yeah, we're staging a golf tournament on a venue, but this next venue is supposed to be fantastic. It's supposed to be more fan friendly, which is a big part of why we showcase. So I think there's a lot of positives for next year and years to come. So it's going to be an awesome facility. I heard the hotel is meticulous. So I'm excited.
It's a bittersweet, but can't live in the past. I'm looking forward to the future.

Q. Were you surprised that you were able to win with a 70 today?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes and no. I mean, you know, Sunday is a day where you see good rounds, which we saw. And it's also a day where guys, you know, might get too ahead of themselves, which I've done and maybe I did a little bit today, too. So the conditions were not easy.
Like I said, there was a lot of times when there was two-club winds. When you have two-club winds, it's never an easy task. Making putts, every putt is crucial. That plays a factor in it.
So I'm a little surprised, but in the end, 16, 17, 18 were holes were if you're a little bit off, they'll bite you. So I think they're great finishing holes and that's what we saw. Even 15 for that matter.

Q. How big was 8 in the scheme of things at the end of the day?
ZACH JOHNSON: Obviously it was huge, yeah. That one really could have deflated me. I missed a makeable putt the previous hole for eagle. I don't know what that was. About 10, 12 feet, and I three-putted the previous hole before that on 6. Missed probably six, seven feet there, and missed a makeable birdie putt on 5 that was probably 10 feet. So yeah, that par putt was big.
I had a terrible chip, once again. We know what I need to work on, which I guess is a positive.
But yeah, that was a big putt. Just kind of kept me in the game.

Q. That birdie's got Phil's name on it.
ZACH JOHNSON: You know, I've heard a lot of guys have bought that, actually. And he's ridiculous around the greens, ridiculous. Looks like he's putting. I don't know if I'll buy it. Maybe I'll just go straight to the source.

Q. When did you tell the parents to cancel the trip?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it really wasn't my decision. I'm not going to try to persuade them -- well, I shouldn't say that. I did persuade them, but I'm not going to try to be a major influence in that decision.
My dad's seen me win I think three times. So my mom has not. She has a little bit of an anxiety streak, if you will. That's just being a mom. She just worries.
It was a little convincing just to keep her here, and quite honestly, they've seen me play golf a lot. They watched me a little this week. My dad watched every hole with the exception of flying back today.
They didn't come down here to see me. They came to see my son. I was chopped liver relative to that. I'm just glad my mom was able to come down and witness a win. They canceled a trip to Mexico to be here, an anniversary trip at that, so yeah, that's pretty awesome.
They're the two that kind of got me going in the game in the first place. So it's nice, nice to share it with them.
DOUG MILNE: Real quick, if you wouldn't mind, your birdies on 7 and 13. Just give us some clubs and description.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. Sure. 7, had never gone for the green, never thought there was any reason to, but it's downwind, obviously and kind of in between a driver and a 3-wood.
Decided you know what, short's really bad. So let's just hit a smooth driver. And you know, it landed barely right of the green, just on the fringe there and must have taken some speed off and rolled up and rolled down there to probably 12, 15 feet. I don't know what it was. Two-putt birdie. It was a pretty easy birdie obviously with the tee shot.
13 was a sand wedge. I think the hole was probably about 125, but I was only trying to hit 100 yards because it was straight downwind, downhill, and made about another probably 15, 18-footer, I think, there for birdie. Yeah.
DOUG MILNE: Zach, congratulations. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes.
ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you very much.

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