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September 3, 2010

Zach Johnson


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Zach Johnson into the interview room after an 8-under par 63. Zach, just tremendous playing by all three of the guys in your group. Comment on what the day was like.
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it was one of those days kind of like when you play by yourself; if you get off to a good start it kind of breeds momentum. But we all got off to a good start, so it just kind of catapulted our day, I think. We all birdied the first hole, and it fed into the remainder of the day.
I think the course setup was conservative, and rightfully so based on the potential for weather and trying to even out the waves if possible. The whole staff did a great job there. The course was there for the taking. There was minimal wind, and the greens were absolutely perfect. So with that, those two combinations, it just makes for an accessible day.
I probably didn't hit it quite as well as those guys. I hit it fine, I didn't put myself in trouble, but I putted beautifully.
JOHN BUSH: You're No. 15 in the FedExCup standings. Talk a little bit about your confidence level right now, just an excellent week at the PGA Championship and just the momentum you have.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I feel good. I'm confident in where I'm at. I'm confident in my approach, certainly confident in my -- the system I've implemented, everything, ball-striking, short game, putting, it's all getting better, I think, but fortunately there's still a lot of room for improvement.
Yeah, I'm 15th in the FedEx, and that's certainly why we're here. You know, I've got a great opportunity to move up. But I've got three more rounds hopefully this week, and my focus will be that second round. This is probably the easiest this golf course can play, so I'm not taking anything for granted right now. I'm excited about the remainder of the week.

Q. At the top of the leaderboard, 8-under right now, you said the course is playing probably as conservative as it can be right now. Do you feel you need to have rounds like this consistently for the next three days in order to stay atop the leaderboard?
ZACH JOHNSON: It's all weather-based from here on out. A lot of the tee boxes were placed up, shorter in other words, on a lot of the -- there's still some good pins out there. I mean, these greens are kind of quadrant like, so we kind of knew where the pins were going to be, so there wasn't any secrets there. But the tee boxes were conservative, and I thought the -- with no wind, it just makes for a fairly easy day anywhere.
Now, with the fairways rolling fast and some wind today, the scores would not have been this low. So if we get rain, ball doesn't roll in the fairway, ball doesn't roll on the greens, you're going to see low scores throughout the week. If we don't get a whole lot of rain or if we get some wind to dry it out, it could dry up and be difficult. So it's all weather-based.

Q. I was just wondering whether you watched Louisville on TV and what it was like to sit that one out when they were actually winning for once, whether that was tough and lit a little fire under you.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I watched every second of it, or nearly every second of it. As I told Corey, 2010 Ryder Cup captain, it was one I was cheering for them like crazy. I feel like we're all on that team, it's just a matter of putting 12 guys out there to go play. It would be an honor, and I want to get on that team very, very bad. But you know, like we were just talking about, you can justify the case for a number of guys.
You know, I'm not concerned about it. I'm going to let things fall where they fall. You know, I feel like if I keep performing decent then I'll have a pretty good chance.
Yeah, '08 was fun to watch. I mean, just the momentum they had there was very evident, and it was -- I thought Captain Azinger did a great job and it seemed like the team gelled, as everybody was saying, and as a result some putts dropped, which was nice to see, and they came out on top. Hopefully it's the same kind of formula this year.

Q. Can you talk about feeding off the other guys in your group, and it looked like you were laughing and talking a lot out there. What were you guys talking about?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, we're all pretty good friends. I mean, Ryan and I, we played the mini-tours together way, way back when. We've kind of gone through the ranks together so we've known each other a long time. Jason is obviously quite a bit younger, but he and his wife Ellie have become good friends with all of us. It's nice to play with friends. Like I said, when we're all playing decent it makes it that much better. Yeah, joking around, just a casual round of golf. It was nice.
We got to the ninth hole, which was our 18th hole, and it felt like -- to an extent it felt like we were out there for 10 holes. It didn't feel like it took that long, so it was kind of nice.

Q. Have you ever been in a group that's gone 23-under?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think I probably have, but it was not remotely on a golf course of this magnitude. Maybe I haven't. I mean, I really -- there could have been a mini-tour week here or there, but nothing on the Nationwide or PGA TOUR. You know, that was -- I think we had some bogeys, too, so that was pretty impressive all around, I think.

Q. Just wanted to ask you a little bit about your playing partners there. When you're going well, does it kind of put any kind of pressure on the other guys to step up their game and to maybe keep pace with you, especially when you had that string of birdies there?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, well, I had a string and they were having strings within that string. You know, I don't know. It can, yeah. There can be a little bit of pressure there, but we've all seen it. I mean, I've seen guys birdie -- I've seen guys shoot 28, 29 on the front and I shoot par. You've just got to go out there and literally take each shot for what it is. Hopefully it starts to rub off on you and you start to focus a little better maybe and maybe see some putts drop.
That was the thing today. We all hit it pretty good. We all hit a lot of fairways. We all hit it good, but we all putted great. Really, Ryan missed about a seven- to ten-footer on 4, and I don't know if we missed another putt inside that length all day, frankly.
So you know, that's really what it was today was the tale of the putters, I think.

Q. How early do you realize that maybe the course will yield scores like this? Do you go to your first tee this morning thinking that 63s and 64s are going to be --
ZACH JOHNSON: No, I never really have a number in mind to be honest. If you're off late in the day on a weekend, typically the golf course gets a bit more difficult, so if there's a low number posted early, then you kind of think, wow, that's pretty good, but that's going to be hard to do late in the afternoon.
But on a day like this, no, we're first off, you know, with no wind, you think you've got to be aggressive. I thought the ball carried a long ways. The greens I missed today were more misjudging the yardage more than anything else.
You know, I think it's just a matter of keeping the golf course in front of you and taking each hole for what it is. No, there was no number in my head before I teed it up.
JOHN BUSH: Let's go through the card real quick. Birdie on No. 10?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, 10 I hit a good drive, hit a really good 9-iron, thought it was perfect, landed beyond the pin, went in the back rough and I chipped it in. That chip was probably 25, 20 feet. It was a pretty benign chip.
Next hole I hit a good 4-iron, like 220-some yards to the hole, just trying to keep it a little short of the hole, and I made about a 30-footer there. That really just kick-started my day.
17, I hit a poor tee shot, got a good kick, hit a good shot on my second shot, just misjudged the yardage and came up a little short and I had a putt that had to go over that knob. It had to be 40 feet almost, 35 feet, 40 feet, I don't know what it was. Somehow that went in the hole. I actually aimed right at the middle of the hole because it went right and then left, so it was a straight putt. (Laughter.)
JOHN BUSH: Is that when you know it may be your day?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, that was a telltale sign out there.
I hit a good drive on 18 but it just slid into the bunker. I only had 210 to the front of the green, but I had to lay up, hit a good lob wedge on my third shot to eight or ten feet and slid that one in. That was a fast putt.
1, hit a 3-wood and a sand wedge to 10 feet, 12 feet, made that.
2, hit a bad drive there in the bunker had to lay up, hit a full wedge to about five feet, made that.
5, I hit a good drive, hit a punch 7-iron, should have hit an 8, punch 7-iron to 20 feet, but it probably rolled 28 feet. It broke a lot, made it.
8, I hit probably the best shot of the day for me, which was a perfect 6-iron. Ended up about six feet, seven feet below the hole, inside right edge putt, made it.
JOHN BUSH: Zach, thanks for coming by. Play well this week.

End of FastScripts

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