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April 3, 2004

Zach Johnson


TODD BUDNICK: Zach, first off, as the 54 hole leader, you are winner of this week's CRESTOR Charity Challenge. In your name a donation of $50,000 will be given to the health care charity of your choice, along with the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta will receive $50,000 from the BellSouth Classic and CRESTOR.

ZACH JOHNSON: Beautiful.


ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you. That's awesome.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's get to the other stuff now. 13 under, 203, through three rounds, three rounds of 60s. Only two players have had four rounds of 60s here before. So you have your work cut out for you, but you seem like you're handling the course very well this week.

ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you. Yeah, I feel good. I'm just out there, you know, told the other guys, I'm just working with the Lord. He's pushing me and leading me. I'm just His instrument.

It's been amazing. I really didn't get too nervous. I just felt pretty patient. I had some squirrely shots but I still felt good about things. It's pretty awesome.

TODD BUDNICK: Kind of an average day, birdie, bogey, a string of birdies, but you picked it up coming in.

ZACH JOHNSON: I hit some good shots, made some pars. Hit some poor shots and made some pars. My putter was definitely the key today. Like it was yesterday, I ended on a good note. I don't know what I birdied, four of six yesterday maybe, four out of five. I birdied the last two out of three today. You know, things just felt pretty good. Damon and I, my caddie, we are working and we had a good system going. Do the same tomorrow.

Q. Yesterday, you said it sort of feels the same, winning an event like a Nationwide event, does it still feel the same or do you think it will build a little bit now?

ZACH JOHNSON: I hope not. It doesn't really feel that much different. You know, I mean, I think the only thing, the crowds can probably get to you a little bit, some of the chanting and whatnot but I kind of enjoy it. I'm a sports fanatic. I've been around that for quite a while.

You know, I mean, it's one notch above the Nationwide Tour, but at the same time, it's just golf. It's just a game. The course isn't always playing it and the ball isn't always hitting. Pretty simple. Pretty stupid simple.

Q. Can you talk about keeping your composure in some tight spots?

ZACH JOHNSON: I did a good job of scrambling, especially early on in the back nine. After that, I hit every shot solid after No. 12, I think it was. Actually that's No. 11. 10 and 11 were just squirrely and I managed to make pars.

I got a decent start. Made a bogey on 4 but I bounced back with a birdie on 5, I think. I just tried to remain patient and persevere and good things especially, I'm making a lot of 3 and 4 , 5 footers. I feel very confident over that. Reading them well. Speed is good. So that's huge.

Q. Talk about your adventure at 18?

ZACH JOHNSON: That was an adventure; you're right.

Yeah, I thought we had the right club. I think we did still have the right club. Obviously you don't want to leave it short on your second shot, but I had a downhill lie downhill, so just delofted my club and it went forever. My third shot, we were just trying to just barely get it over the bunker. If it got over the bunker, probably we lease on the green like it did if it stays on the bunker that's fine because it's really not the hardest of bunker shots.

So I was just trying to play the percentages and it came out. That's probably one of, if not the best shot I hit all day, to be honest. It was a lob wedge, 60 degree. I hit it perfect. I don't know how.

Q. If there was one key to this week what would it be?

ZACH JOHNSON: My putting. I've hit driven it decent, hit it well at times and poor at times. I think my ball striking this week has been above average, especially the last seven or eight holes today. But my putter has definitely been the key. Speed has been great, and I'm making my 3 and 4 footers.

So, you know, as windy as it can be out here and as it has been and probably as it's going to be tomorrow, wind can affect your putts significantly. I feel good with my hands.

Q. Tomorrow you'll be playing with a world class golfer, Padraig Harrington, do you think that will make a difference and didn't you play with him here before?

ZACH JOHNSON: I played with him two years ago. I'm familiar with Padraig. Talked to him a little bit yesterday. I'm going to enjoy that. He's a really nice guy. His caddie is great. Hopefully we'll be pretty comfortable.

Should be fun. I mean, I'm really looking forward to it.

Q. Will you look over at him and think, "Gee, I'm definitely not on the Nationwide Tour"?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, especially the way he played last week coming in. He's as solid as they get, another great putter. Pretty boring golf, from what I've witnessed, which is good, that's what you want. Straight, solid. He's one of to model why are game off of, for sure.

Q. Your pairing with Craig, did that help you stay for focused, make it seem like last year?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I first played with Craig in '99 at Q School and it helped me a lot. That was my first finals of Q School. It was probably the last time we played. Might have played a practice round since. My wife and I have gotten to know him and his wife, Bobby. We actually went on a cruise together. I think it was early December of this past year, with a few other couples. It's great. We got to know them. It was very comfortable. I don't know if anybody follows it, but Craig played awesome today, too. His putts just didn't go in.

It was fun. It was just relaxing.

Q. Hanging out with those crazy Iowans out there , does that help you a little bit with your comfort level having some of those guys around watching you?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely. It's just another support system, really. That can definitely add to comfort, I think, having played in front many of my previous investors very often, that's what these guys were, the guys that helped me out initially. A few of them haven't even been to a Tour event. I just feel great that I played well in front of them and that their investment might have been worthwhile.

It was business with them, but it was even more of a personal friendship relationship. They are awesome. Every one of them are just great guys and I'm enjoying it. Then I also got my dad is here and my in laws are here so it makes it even more special.

They were just planning on coming here they have had this plans for over a month I think. My dad was here two years ago when I played, so he's familiar with the area. They all like the golf course. Obviously, I do, too. It's kind of a guys week out. They are all good friends of my dad, really good friends of my dad.

Q. A lot of guys build up for years before they get theirs first win, after the success you had last year, what would it mean to get kick started to win this early in your rookie year?

ZACH JOHNSON: It would mean a lot. I feel like I don't want to say I know I can win out here but I definitely feel like I'm ready to win out here. I think it was Padraig, one of the media guys that mentioned a win is a win on any tour. I firmly believe that. It doesn't matter what tour it is, mini tour, Open event, Nationwide Tour, overseas, a win is a win. If I can do it the first year out here, that's great. I'll remain patient. I'm not going to go anywhere and hopefully my game doesn't either.

Q. Where was the cruise to, how was it and were there any other TOUR players?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, they all were actually. We went to the Eastern Caribbean, a couple of islands down there, down south, St. Thomas, St. Martin and an island in the about a hams. It was with Craig and Bobby Bowden; Jeff and Heather Gove, Jeff is on the Nationwide Tour; Jess and Natalya Daley, Jess was out here a couple years ago, he was on the Nationwide Tour; and Scott and Steffie Sterling, who is on the Nationwide Tour.

So it was an end of the year celebration, relaxation. It was awesome. Three of them were pregnant.

Q. You mentioned Craig, he had 34 putts, I assume you had something in the 20s, is that what it boiled down to out here, is that what separates people is putting?

ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, definitely. You can turn bad days into good days and good days into great days. Especially on these type of greens. I grew up on bentgrass, maybe not quite this fast, but I've always enjoyed fast bent. You know, if you guys were out there, Craig played solid. He shot even par and I think he 3 putted for bogey. Didn't make many mistakes. I don't think he made a mistake quite frankly. He just didn't make any putts. He's Steady Eddie.

Q. I caught some of the story behind the whole investor thing, can you fill us in, was it $50 shares in '98?

ZACH JOHNSON: We started in '98. You want the long version?

Q. Sure.

ZACH JOHNSON: Okay. We started in 1991. I graduated from college and probably had ten to a dozen guys and $500 a share, one of my investors was an attorney and he grew up the contract. So every year we just kept on getting more and more guys. Kinds of joked about it because I was they said the economy was dropping at that time. So they said I was a good investment and always wished they put more into it. Starting out in golf, I didn't have to really worry about my expenses or any financial situation. It was a huge lift off my shoulders. All I really had to do was focus on golf, which I had never really been able to do with college and prior to that. It was amazing.

Q. Will they get a return?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah it's just like a stock base. It's $500 a share. I can't specifically remember what the contract stated, but they get their money back and if I made their initial investment or more, then they would definitely get a percentage of the earnings. So there's a return on their investment, for sure. It was an annual contract each year and then we stopped at the end of 2003. So I had them last year, as well to, get me started on the Nationwide.

Q. Can you talk about that stretch on 10, 11 where you were finding a lot of bunkers?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, my bunker play was pretty good today. The wind played a factor in the bunkers based on my ankles. But 18 that's what we were trying to do. If I got it to the middle of the green, I didn't think I could fly it into the bunker, and if went in the bunker, that would have been fine on my second shot. I might have blocked it a little bit on my second shot but it really wasn't that bad. It just came out hot. Just glad I didn't hurt anybody.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through your birdies and bogeys.

ZACH JOHNSON: Birdie on 3 I hit a good tee shot with a 3 wood, and I hit a sand wedge to probably a foot and a half, two feet.

I bogeyed the next hole. I hit a poor tee shot into the right bunker, one of the right bunkers. I didn't hit that bad of a second shot. I just misjudged the lie and skirted out right and it was pine straw. Didn't have much of a lie and I think I caught a pine cone and squirted to the right. That's my excuse, anyway. Played the percentages on my next shot. I thought could I release it, but if I hit it too hard it could have gone in the three. Just got it on the green and hit a really good putt and almost made it.

The next hole I hit a good drive and a little punch 9 to probably six feet, seven feet maybe.

13, the short one, I hit a good drive and anticipated the wind kicking it a little right but it went left and got in the bunker, which was it wasn't easy but really wasn't that difficult. Had a pretty good uphill lie to that pin and I knocked it out to probably about a foot and a half, driver off the tee.

16, we didn't know what to hit there. I just I put an 8 iron in the back of my stance and hit it pretty hard and I pured it. I think it almost went in from what everybody was saying. Made probably a 5 , 6 footer there, as well. Probably six feet.

17, hit another good drive, driver, and then I hit sand wedge to probably 15 feet, I would say. A little left to righter, caught the edge.

TODD BUDNICK: Good luck tomorrow, Zach.

End of FastScripts.

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