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September 21, 2010

Dustin Johnson


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Dustin Johnson into the interview room here at the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. Thanks for coming by and spending a few minutes with us. Winner of the BMW Championship and you enter this week No. 2 in the FedExCup standings. Just comment a little bit about your goals for the week.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: To win. You know, I've just got to come out and put myself in position and have a chance to win on Sunday. That's definitely the key to this week. You know, it's going to be a tough week.
This golf course is hard. It's playing really good right now. The greens are perfect. The course is in great shape, but it's going to get tougher as the week goes on. It's going to get firmer and faster, and you know, it's a good feeling here this week, but it's going to be tough to win.

Q. Going into these Playoffs, which course would you have thought suited you the best?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't know. I like them all. I really liked Boston, which I played the worst at. But that had nothing to do with the golf course. That was all me. I just played terrible there.

Q. What about the idea of going to Bermudagrass for the first time, the rough and whatnot?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: What do you mean?

Q. Just the difference in grasses as you come south.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, I grew up playing Bermudagrass, so it's not -- you know, it's not really that different for me. But you know, it's still tougher to play on Bermudagrass as far as -- especially the rough. It's really hard to chip out of. I think that's definitely the hardest part of Bermudagrass is chipping. The rough, the ball jumps out of it. It's going to fly, it's with no spin. But when you get around the greens, the little chip shots or the longer chip shots, they're just harder to judge. Even growing up in it, it's still tough for me.

Q. How important is it for you to be here and be in contention for the FedExCup after the year you had at the majors?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, it's important to be in contention anywhere, but it's definitely -- this is what we play for all year is the FedExCup. So to have a chance to win here is what I've prepared for all year long.

Q. After what happened to you at the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, did it play on your mind at all?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: They were all great experiences. Putting myself in those situations, there's a lot of good things I can take from it. You know, if anything, I've learned a lot from them, and it helped me last week in Chicago to get that W.

Q. Going back to the majors for a second, you were in contention in two of them. If you had a do-over and you could win one of those but not qualify to be here this week, would you take it?

Q. You'd rather be here?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I'd rather be in the spot that I'm in.

Q. You've gone from, in a relatively short amount of time, a relatively unknown guy, newcomer out on TOUR to being a very well-known international player. Can you talk about how fans have sort of reacted to you and the attention you get out on the golf course now?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, the fans have been unbelievable. They've really started to support me and they're behind me.
Last week in Chicago on Sunday, I had a -- the gallery, it kind of seemed like they were behind me. You know, it definitely helps. It's great to be one of the guys that the fans like. You know, hopefully they'll continue to like me. I enjoy playing for them, and I had a great time last week in Chicago.

Q. If I can follow up, are you surprised at the sort of reaction that you got, and did you expect to be one of the people that the fans sort of gravitated to?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, eventually I thought once they got to know me, they would like me. It happened in a different way than I expected, but it still worked out well for me.

Q. A lot of guys would have cracked after what happened to you at those two majors. What is it about -- you followed up with a lot of success, second in the standings. What is it about you that allowed you to do that?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't know. I think it's just the way I'm wired. You know, I just don't let things bother me too much. The things that happened, it wasn't like I did anything that terrible or anything bad enough to have bothered me at all. You know, I still put myself into position to win, which is what I'm trying to do every week. You know, you can't win every time. But there's a lot of good things that I can take from both of them that helped me, especially last week in Chicago.

Q. What's the maddest you've ever been on a golf course? And you can go back as far as you want.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I had a pretty bad temper when I was a little bit younger. But like the worst thing I think I've ever done on a golf course is maybe thrown my putter in a pond or something like that. But I've never been a club breaker or destroyed the ground or a green or something like that. I've never done that. But I've definitely thrown a few clubs in the water.

Q. What's the last fit you threw?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't know. I don't think I've ever really pitched a fit. I would get mad and just toss something, but I'd never like blow up. I've never done anything like that.

Q. How come?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Stuff just doesn't bother me that much.

Q. With all the time and energy you've been putting into the Playoffs, have you given much thought to your Ryder Cup experience, the Ryder Cup?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: A little bit, but not -- we've got such big tournaments leading up to the Playoffs and then starting the Playoffs, it's hard to actually think about it too much. I try not to look ahead too much; I try to just focus on what I'm doing. But I've gotten to thinking about it a little bit. I know it's going to be really fun and I'm very proud to be representing my country, and I'm looking forward to playing next week.

Q. There's a lot on the table for you potentially this week beyond this $10 million. There's the Player of the Year still up for grabs, seven or eight of you guys in that category. I wonder if that's crossed your mind while we've been out here on the road for the last 100 years.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Not really. Golf will take care of that, so I'm not really worried about that at all. You know, this week is a big week for me. There's definitely a lot on the line this week. So if I can -- I just want to be there to have a chance to win on Sunday. That's my goal this week.

Q. You mentioned a couple times that there were things that you learned at Pebble and at Whistling Straits that you were able to use two weeks ago in Chicago. Can you be a little bit more specific about the one or two things you learned the most?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, from Pebble is where I learned the most. After the things that happened on 2 and 3, I definitely started moving very fast, and I maybe didn't take my time or wasn't really thinking things through very much.
So then at the PGA a couple weeks later, I was there and had a chance to win again, which I did everything that I was supposed to do. I birdied 16 and 17 coming down the stretch to give myself a one-shot lead, and then obviously the unfortunate situation on 18. But I still did everything I was supposed to at the PGA. I played well, I played good golf, I gave myself a lot of looks at birdie on the back nine. But, you know, still even not getting it done.
Then I had another chance at the Barclays, the first playoff event I was in the last group. I played pretty good, I just wasn't rolling it very well with the putter and couldn't get any putts to go in the hole.
And then Chicago being in the last group again, you know, I still just went and did the same things. I really took my time and stayed patient. I really just tried to focus on one shot at a time, not what everybody else was doing. I definitely saw that Paul was playing very well, and I knew I needed to make some birdies. But I still just focused on me and focused on what I was doing and got it done.

Q. Did somebody tell you at Pebble that you had rushed, or is that something that you went back and looked at tapes or clips or whatever and figured out yourself?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, after the round I went back through what was going on. Sometimes in those situations, you know you're doing it, but you just can't slow down and you can't stop yourself from doing it.

Q. I wonder if you could ask you about two holes. The first is the opening hole, par-4. Take us tee to green, club selection, expectations, how you attack that hole.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I'll probably hit 3-wood off the tee, and usually it'll leave me like sand wedge or pitching wedge in. Yeah, you've got to get off to a good start here. The front nine definitely has a few birdie holes on it. The par-3s are tough on the front, but other than that you can kind of -- 6, maybe 5 -- No. 5 and then the par-3s, you'll take par on every day, but the rest of the holes are good birdie opportunities. You've got to get off to a good start here.
The back nine is a little bit tougher, and it always plays a little bit harder, I think. So if you get off to a good start, keep it rolling, you can post a pretty good number.

Q. What about No. 18, club selection, scoring expectations, is it a scoring opportunity or are you just trying to survive?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: 17, I'll take 3 on every day. It's a long hole. Out here I hit 4-iron, I mean a good 4-iron. Get it on the green probably pin high. But I think it's playing 244 or something today. Expectation is to get it on the green and two-putt.

Q. When you look at your career going forward, has being the No. 1 player in the world ever been a specific goal?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No, I don't set goals like that. Obviously if I win enough golf tournaments, if I play well the next year or so, it could be a possibility. But as far as my goal being the best player in the world, it's not one of my goals. You know, most of my goals are short-term goals, and I just try to give myself the opportunity to be there.

Q. When did it first become apparent to you that you hit the ball longer than most of the people that you played with? And this golf course seems to favor guys, at least for the last six or so years, that are -- that hit the ball long, all the winners and the top 5 mostly have been longer hitters.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think I've always hit it pretty far. But I don't know. I mean, maybe in college, I guess, high school. Actually high school, playing with guys that were pretty good but always hit it by them.
But this golf course is definitely -- you've got to hit it in the fairway, and the fairways are narrow, very narrow, because you've got to -- the greens are firm and fast, and you need to be able to control the golf ball coming into it. So yeah, the longer hitters usually play pretty well here, but you've still got to get it in the fairway.

Q. Does that mean that you will hit driver on a number of four pars that you normally --
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't hit that many drivers here. Obviously it depends on the wind, but I hit a lot of 3-woods, and I hit a fairway amount of drivers here.

Q. What happened last year here? Didn't get it in the fairway that much? You were pretty well down, 20-something.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I didn't play very good here last year, but I think I was 14th coming in, and I played pretty poorly Thursday and Friday. I mean, I kind of was just ready to go home. It had been a long year, so I think I was kind of -- had one foot out the door before I even teed off.

Q. You were talking earlier about rushing at times. You're a fast golfer in general. How does that sort of style and pace of play develop for you? And does it bother you when you get paired with a guy who's not exactly --
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, obviously I've learned to -- I've adapted to it. I still play fast, but as far as if other guys take a long time or whatever, I won't like have my club out and ready while I'm waiting on them. I'll wait until it's my turn to pull my club and go through my routine so that I don't feel like I'm waiting. Me and my caddie will talk. He'll ask about whatever, until it's my turn to go.

Q. How did you become a fast player?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I was always a fast player. I mean, I look at it as -- there's only two things that can happen, you hit a good shot or a bad shot, so why waste time doing it? (Laughter.)

Q. Just to clarify, so when you talk about slowing down from what you learned at Pebble, it's a matter of not -- when the club is out and your mind is made up, it's more of the time spent before you reach that decision?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: More the process, yeah. I slowed down in -- being patient, not rushing, whatever it is, walk. Sometimes I get a really fast walk going and then I'll do everything really fast, routine, everything is fast. So I already move fast, so I've got to feel like I'm moving really slow, and I'm probably moving at a normal pace.
But golf swing, everything, I almost feel like I swing a little bit slower, everything is slower.

Q. But when you pull the club and start your practice swing, we can still count on the usual 10 seconds before you launch it?

Q. You were talking earlier about the response you got from the fans this year. Still a lot of golf to be played before the end of the season, but how would you most like to be remembered by the fans at the end of the year?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't know, that's tough. I mean, I'm just happy the fans like me and they pull for me, so that's good. But I hope they -- they obviously like coming out to watch me play, and I hit it far and anything can happen. You never know.
But I think I'm always nice to them. I always sign autographs for them, so I'm very -- I'm definitely not -- I don't know if I can say it. But I always try to be very friendly with fans and talk to them and stuff. I don't know. That's a tough question.

Q. You talked about you would rather be here -- you wouldn't trade being here for an Open or a PGA. The idea that the FedExCup is something that people play for all year long and they've made several changes to it over the years, one change people think possibly could happen or should happen is if you are a FedExCup champion, whether it's whatever year, that you get an exemption into the FedExCup four events. Would you like to see something like that? The Masters has that exemption, the Open, PGA, British, you get exemptions. This is just as big as those, if not bigger. Would you like to see an exemption if you are the FedExCup champion?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, but it's kind of a little bit different. It's more like a playoff system like the other sports have where if the Saints win the Super Bowl last year, they're not exempt to the Playoffs the following year. They still want the biggest title, but they've still got to play good next year to get back to it.
I think it's a little bit different than the majors or whatever. So I don't think you could do that.

Q. Two wins, contended in majors, you're here, Ryder Cup. Did you see this year coming for you?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I try to think I see everything coming, but not always. I think that I've worked hard this year with fitness and on my golf game, so it's good to see the results paying off. But I mean, you never know. You can't ever predict, like, I'm going to win two tournaments this year. You just can't do it.
But going out this year, the goal was to give myself opportunities to win, and I've done that very well this year. That's my goal is to keep giving myself opportunities to win.

Q. You're one of five guys who control their own destiny. How will you change your approach to this tournament and attack it early?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: It's still a golf tournament. You've still got to play four rounds. So you know, just approach it the same way I approach every tournament.

Q. If you could go back to Kapalua right now and looking forward to the year, did you exceed your expectations or did you not meet them, do you think?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I've done pretty well, I would say. Maybe -- I don't know, expectations is a tough thing. But I think I've met my expectations.
JOHN BUSH: Dustin, thanks for coming by. Play well this week.

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