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October 7, 2009

Zach Johnson


Q. What's it like having Michael in the team room?
ZACH JOHNSON: Playing on this team is an honor and a privilege and having Michael makes it that much more special. The best part about it, you can tell just in candid conversations or just normal conversations, he's just a normal guy, he really is. It just happens that he's the best basketball player of all time.
It's just awesome. He's going to be great. If it's just a pat on the shoulder, sometimes that's all you need, but some of the guys are picking his brain, too. There's a list of questions. If there's one -- I wouldn't even know where to start or where to end. There's so many.
The guy, it's Michael Jordan, come on. If I ask him one question, it's, would you take me on in a three-point contest -- no, that's not true. But if he did shoot left-handed.
I think he's a team motivator. You talk about the best basketball player of all time, but you're also talking about one of the best team players of all time. When you add that ingredient into it, this sort of entity, I just think it's a positive.
He's a great athlete, obviously. He's a better competitor, which is a sick combination, and I think he's a great motivator. He's a whole -- there's just a lot of knowledge that he can divulge to us if need be. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Zach, you were not at Valhalla last year. How important was it for you to get back into this team competition?
ZACH JOHNSON: Very important. I was fortunate to play in a couple of these things prior, and I've said it before. Once you're on a team, you just never want to not be associated with the team. It's that special. These events, wearing the American flag on your sleeve and representing your country is of the utmost. Having a captain like Fred Couples and Jay Haas and now Michael Jordan lead us makes it even that much more special.
It was motivation. I watched nearly the entire Ryder Cup last year and it was good motivation to kind of fuel my fire and work hard.

Q. You brought up MJ. How cool is it to have number 23 out here this week?
ZACH JOHNSON: It's awesome. It's humbling, and surreal, but it's just a lucky experience. And he loves golf. He loves it. He loves being around us. He loves the team atmosphere. He loves, you know, some of the moments I remember outside of being 23 for Chicago is being 23 for our nation in the Olympics and how much merit and how much emphasis he put into those events. You can see it. He loves everything about representing your country and playing team sports.
So you combine golf into it, a passion of his, it's great. That's Michael.

Q. Sometimes as a golfer, maybe you get a little tired of people coming up to you; Zach, tell me about the putt at the Masters. Do you feel free as an athlete to ask him about a shot in games or is it more like, how are the kids doing?
ZACH JOHNSON: I would say it's probably more of the latter, but at the same time I want the opportunity or the ability to ask him some of those questions. Growing up a Bulls fan, I remember when they beat Portland and they made like six 3s in a quarter or something like that. It was ridiculous. I remember specific shots he's made and times when he's had to make them.
If there's a parallel, I would say it's Tiger in golf. If there's a putt to be made or a shot that needs to be hit, he does it. Same with Michael, if the ball is in his hand, he'll score.
So those kind of things are the ones you want to talk about, the zone questions, but I haven't taken it upon myself to ask those questions. I don't want to talk shop too much.

Q. Who is the best ping-pong table player?
ZACH JOHNSON: I will say myself, but Phil got the best of me last night. He's got this Zen voodoo junk on his serve that I don't think is even legal. Fundamentally, I'm certainly the best, but Phil has got some sort of spin stuff that I can't figure out yet. But I got him once and it's going to be the trend. No one else -- there's a couple of guys that can take me, but I think I've got the best of most of everybody.

Q. (Inaudible.)
ZACH JOHNSON: It's fantastic. Getting the ability and the privilege to play on two of these teams in the past just fuels your fire to make them every year. Didn't play in it last year in The Ryder Cup, so I was really gunning for this one. I'm happy and proud to be here. But throw the pride aside, this is a complete honor, having Freddie and Jay and Michael lead us, this group of guys, these other 11 guys on my team just makes it awesome. It's an experience that my wife and I and certainly my family will never forget. I can't wait for Thursday.

Q. You play an individual game, but you're on a team and you're on a team with MJ.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, that's sick, you're right, you're absolutely right. He's a guy that wants the ball in the end, right? The problem is I don't think he wants to be hitting the putts if need be. But given that, I've heard he's good and I'm sure he could probably make them.
It's just a nice element that we are never going to forget. Having MJ be a part of this team, he really is a part of it. He wants to be a part of it. He's going to help us if we need the help, he'll answer our questions, or just like as you witnessed in the questions up here with the guys; he'll bust our chops when he busts them. He's a real person and having him in our locker room and our team room is really special.

Q. Talk about Harding Park as a venue.
ZACH JOHNSON: I think it's great. I think San Francisco in general is an awesome venue. The people here have embraced us. Having it at a municipal golf course is just so, so cool. It's something that California, San Francisco can take pride in, but certainly the PGA TOUR and all of us. We are talking about a classic golf course that to this day still remains competitive and one that's going to showcase great golf.
We were talking about it today, Harding Park, you get on the tee box, Jay Haas and I were commenting, you know exactly what you need to do. It's there, right out in front of you, a lot of character, right, left, up, down, short, long. It's going to make for a great contest.

Q. You've been on both Cups, there are some subtle differences and not so subtle differences in the format, you play four days here and everybody pretty much plays every day, can't hide guys, fantasy draft-type thing, things like that. I'm wondering what are your favorite things about the differences about this one, what do you like?
ZACH JOHNSON: The best thing about this one, granted, you play a little bit more as far as -- well you potentially play more. There's only two matches where someone is sitting out, or two guys sit out, so you're obviously playing more. But the best thing about this, in my opinion, The Ryder Cup is awesome, and it will always be awesome. But you don't start till Friday. And Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, are so slow -- they are great days, you're talking camaraderie, chemistry days, but some galas and a lot of functions. The Presidents Cup starts on Thursday and it just makes it -- Ryder Cup, I just remember Friday feels like a year away.
It's nice to start off playing one match Thursday and Friday and get us going, get the train started and obviously Saturday and Sunday you're off and running. I think that's the biggest difference. I think the inside the ropes competition is the same, but that would be the biggest difference I see.

Q. Playing out in the singles, do you like that?

Q. (Inaudible.)
ZACH JOHNSON: I remember that in Montréal.

Q. Classic moment.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, why not?

Q. Slight difference?
ZACH JOHNSON: Slight difference, yeah. It's one of those things, you know, you play, I guess it's going to be three days, potentially four matches going up into singles, and you end in a tie. You didn't lose but you didn't win. Why not? It's a great element I think. Just go out there and be aggressive and try to win your match. I think it's fantastic. It's not anti-climatic.

Q. At this point in the year, the prestige and responsibility of playing on The Presidents Cup, balanced with the amount of fun and difference in how you approach the competition, what is the element that makes your golf as good as it can be out here in The Presidents Cup? Is it relaxing and having fun?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, granted, experience helps. But I think the -- yes, I think the element is certainly relaxing, having fun with these guys. You're talking about an individual game now incorporating the team aspect. You're hitting the shots, but, you've got guys supporting you from all over. So I think that's certainly one element you've got to look into.
But as far as the balancing goes, the one thing I learned early on in my first Cups was it's still just golf. It's still the same shot. My routine is not going to change. I'm still going to approach each shot the way I was approaching a medal round by myself. If you try and stray away and do something different, you will go astray. If you look at the veterans on our team or even the other team that have played in these things, and if you were to watch videotape, what they do versus what they do in a normal tournament, it's not going to be any different.

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