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February 27, 2011

Johnson Wagner


NELSON SILVERIO: We welcome 2011 Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya CancÃÂșn champion Johnson Wagner to the media center. Congratulations. You've been through a little bit out there, closing ceremonies a pretty exciting moment. Just tell us what's going through your mind right now.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, I haven't really had time to think about it, but I'm just beside myself excited. I've been working really hard, and it's just nice to see -- it's nice to see stuff pay off when you work hard, and it shows. It makes you want to work even harder.
NELSON SILVERIO: You mentioned yesterday you're working with your new caddie and how that's helped you along. Can you just talk a little bit about that, how that might have propelled you today?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, he's not that good. (Laughter.) He is sitting right there.
But no, it's nice having a guy that understands golf and understands the swing and can do more than just give me numbers and be a cheerleader. He's very involved in practice and my golf swing, and I mean, if I had just listened to him earlier we probably would have won sooner.

Q. Other than the clinching playoff hole was there a hole that stood out as maybe a pivotal moment? Was it maybe 16 or 17 where you made that long putt?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Yeah, 16 I hit -- it was the worst swing I made all week. The ball should have gone in the right hazard. It was a great break. Someone was looking down on me smiling and said it was my day. I laid it up and made an unbelievable up-and-down, one of the best up-and-downs I've ever made in my life.

Q. What was the feeling like when you knew Spencer was making a run out there and he was right on your heels right up to the end? What's the thought process there?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, I saw him make birdie on 1, 2. I know he was 4-under through 7, and then -- I felt like he could have been 7-under through 7 the way they were applauding up there. I just tried to keep hitting good shots. There's a saying that goes a little something -- it's kind of dirty, so I'm not going to say it, but slow and steady wins the race, and I just tried to stay patient.

Q. 18 in regulation, can you talk about that hole?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I was very nervous, and it was a very -- it was an easy putt, and under the circumstances it was made a little harder. But I had a good read, and I just wanted to make the best stroke I could. If it goes in, great; if not, whatever. And fortunately it went in. But I was pretty nervous and I was pretty excited to see it drop.

Q. What are your thoughts on Spencer Levin just in general?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Spence and I have played a couple rounds together competitively, a few practice rounds. Spencer is one of my favorite guys out here. He's played great this year. He's just a real emotional guy, real great player, gets a lot out of his game. Spence is one of the best guys out here, always wanting to chat and always seems to be in a pretty good mood. He's a good man.

Q. When do you play next?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Before today it was going to be Puerto Rico, but since I won and a top 10 is going to get me into the Honda Classic next week, it's one of my favorite events, I love the golf course. That was originally my goal for the week was just to get in there, so I'm going to go play next week at the Honda.

Q. Talk about this course.
JOHNSON WAGNER: It's very challenging. You have to drive the ball very straight. You have to hit quality iron shots into the greens. Fortunately I was in command of my game a little bit this week and got away with some bad shots. But beautiful conditioned golf course, one of the best we'll play all year. The fairways are perfect. Everything about it condition-wise is perfect, and it is -- I'm honestly shocked that the scores were as low as they were just because it is a challenging golf course if you don't hit it well.
NELSON SILVERIO: Do you mind taking us through your card just for history's sake?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Sure. First birdie was on No. 7, hit a 9-iron in to about ten feet below the hole, made the putt.
No. 8, par-5, I hit a 3-iron into the green in two, just long and left -- pin-high left in the rough and chipped it to about four feet and made it.
11, hit a sand wedge from about 110 to about five feet, made it.
And then 14, I hit a 3-wood into the green for my second shot, par-5, just short right of the green and chipped it up there to about a foot and a half, two feet.
NELSON SILVERIO: And just clubs on the playoff hole?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Hit driver off the tee and a 9-iron into the green from 154.

Q. Did you expect such a close finish there at the end?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, I knew Spencer was playing well, and when I birdied 14, I think I had seen him bogey 13, so I figured I had a lead at that point. And then I saw him birdie 15 from where I was standing on the tee box, and then I saw him birdie 17, so I knew we were tied. At the beginning of the day it was a very tight leaderboard, so I knew it was going to be close all day.

Q. Do you plan on coming back to defend and see your picture on the wall?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Unfortunately it's opposite the World Match Play, so the only way I would not be here is if I was in the top 64 in the world. But if I'm 65th, you can dang sure bet I'm going to be here. I've loved it here, and it would actually be sad if I did get to 64 in the world and didn't get to come back and defend. I've loved every minute I've been here.

Q. This is the only PGA TOUR stop in México. It showcases México's tourism. Talk about your feelings about México.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, this is my first trip ever to México. I think I may have been to Tijuana at some point in college, but I have loved it here. I'm staying right down in Playa del Carmen. The resort here looks beautiful. I'm sure I would enjoy saying here, as well. But I've been staying in condo in Playa del Carmen, and I want to come back with my wife on a vacation. It has been incredibly beautiful. I'd love to go to the West Coast. I'd love to travel in México. I've really, really enjoyed being here.

Q. Paspalum greens aren't really the norm in the States, and they can sometimes be tricky for U.S.-based players. Was that the case this week being that it really did come down to putting this week for you? Did you find them tricky?
JOHNSON WAGNER: The tournament we play in Puerto Rico has paspalum greens, and there are a few tournaments in Florida with paspalum greens as good as these. They putt beautifully. I'd put these greens up against any Bermuda greens, which is my favorite, I'd put it up against any greens we play on all year. They were perfect. I didn't notice any difficulty with them at all.

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