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April 2, 2004

Zach Johnson


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Zach, for joining us in the media center at the BellSouth Classic. Great finish, four birdies on the last six holes. Ben Crane was in here a few minutes ago and said that conditions did die down a little bit, the wind died down; and you took advantage of that. Why don't you talk about the day and then we'll go into questions.

ZACH JOHNSON: When I teed off, it was pretty blustery. It was hard, especially for me, to stand up at times. It was one of those day, as it was yesterday, just trying to be patient and make the best of my opportunities when I had them. On days like this, you've got to be conservative and aggressive; meaning you have to -- there's only so many holes that suit my eye with my shots that I can be aggressive with, and if not, then I hold back and be conservative and make pars. Par is a good score. So got into a little angle on the front nine, my back side, and my putter was pretty good all week, or the last two days, especially today. So I'm just going to try to keep doing what I'm doing.

Q. Did the eagle on 18 really boost you?

ZACH JOHNSON: Oh, definitely. It was a definite boost. Any eagle, for that matter, will get some confidence going. So I was extremely confident going into the front nine.

Q. Inaudible?

ZACH JOHNSON: It was two years ago. It was Sunday. Technically, I 3-putted, but I used my putter four times. Proceeded to 3-putt from about four, five feet.

Q. You're coming off your two best finishes. What's clicking for you in your last three appearances that wasn't earlier on?

ZACH JOHNSON: You know, I played decent on the West Coast. I didn't play great but I played all right. I took the week off of Tucson and came back east, worked with my instructor. My swing as a little off, not quite where it was the previous, like last year. Just trying to get back to the basics and I started to see the benefits, especially around Honda and into Bay Hill as well. You know, I think fundamentals are clicking and I'm fairly confident.

One of my goals this year, one of my biggest goals on TOUR was to get comfortable out here like I was last year and I feel like I am now for sure.

Q. Is there anything specifically that you adjusted or discarded in this last little run you've had?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, my just getting my club on path -- is that what you specifically? My fundamentals were a little off; meaning my club was going outside right from address. So I needed to get it back on plane and shallow it out a little bit. It was a little steep. As a result, my misses were a little -- well, they were spread out, that's for sure.

Q. How about the people that came in with you, can you talk about who they are?

ZACH JOHNSON: Absolutely. These guys are -- one is my father. They are all from Iowa, with the exception of one -- just kidding. Every one of them was an investor of mine when I turned pro. So these are the guys that when others didn't see the potential in me, these guys did. It stuck with me from 1998 till probably forever, I think. So, you know I've said it a hundred times and I'll say it again: They deserve a lot of credit. This business is hard financially to get started, especially when you're just graduating from college. And quite frankly I didn't really have to worry about it too much financially and it took a load off my shoulders. You know, they may not -- they got me to the point -- this circle to get me to the PGA TOUR and they got me here and fortunately I'm able to go on by myself. At the same time, their support is still there and I can still feel it. So, it's pretty awesome.

Q. Thoughts about the weekend?

ZACH JOHNSON: Just going to keep doing the same thing. I say it a lot and you may get sick of it, but it's just the old golf cliches, one hole at a time, one shot at a time.

I learned a lot the last two tournaments, and that's just to remain patient. I get a little impatient out there. My caddie is a pretty mellow guy, so he kind of keeps me loose. We've got a good system. So I'm just going to treat it as any other weekend and have some fun, especially.

Q. On the 17th tee you were checking your alignment and then you ripped two drives, so didn't look like you were much trouble?

ZACH JOHNSON: I was a little off early with my tee shots, especially, so just wanted to get back to the basics and get the alignment down. After that drive, I felt very comfortable with the driver. It's usually one of my better clubs, too. So I was a little frustrated early, like I said. After that one, I felt pretty good.

Q. How do you like this course, talk about this course?

ZACH JOHNSON: I love it, absolutely. Off the tee, you know, it's not -- it's not ridiculously difficult for sure, considering there's really not much rough, dormant if you hit in -- not that bad, but after that you have to pay attention and hit some precise iron shots. The greens are set up, those are quadrants. You hit, stay below the hole, obviously, because the greens are pretty fast and still fairly wet out there. So if it was firm, if the ground was firm and hard, it would be significantly more difficult.

And it may, if we don't get any more rain, I don't foresee that in the forecast from what people are saying, but it's an awesome course.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Let's go over your birdies and bogeys. You started on 10.

ZACH JOHNSON: Hit a good drive and then I hit a 5-iron that really wasn't that bad. It's downwind, you couldn't really tell where it was going to land or where it would end up. Hit a pretty poor chip, but I made a good, I don't know, 6-, 7-, 8-footer probably for birdie, kind of jump-started.

15, that was where my driver was going a little weary. I hit a poor drive and hit a pretty good second shot. Had a difficult bunker shot and missed probably a 12-footer, I would say, for par.

18, I hit a good drive there. Got up to the crest right before it goes town to the cart path. I had 209 to the hole and wanted to make sure I hit it over the water. So I hit 3-iron. And, I don't know what that was, 20, 25 feet maybe. I would say closer to 25 than 20 feet.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Then the string of birdies starting with 4.

ZACH JOHNSON: 4, I hit a good drive, pretty poor second shot. I was up on the bank on my approach shot from like 100 yards and I hit just a half-pitching wedge that landed perfect and probably released a good 15 feet and it was about a ball or two more revolutions short of going in. So it was just a tap-in.

5, I hit a good drive and hit a good punch 9 to about six, seven feet. It was a slider downhill. That was a tough -- that one of the better putts.

6, good drive. Good second shot, and I hit a little lob-wedge from about 65 yards that spun back and I made another good, 12-, 15-footer, probably closer to 15.

9, I hit a good drive and just wanted to stay left of the hole. Hit a good pitching wedge and that was another, over 20 feet probably, 25 feet again. It was pretty ridiculous, yeah. (Laughter.)

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Ben did say you were a good putter.

ZACH JOHNSON: Ben is a good putter, as well.

Q. I'm sure you were in this position last year quite a few times, is it any different on this tour?

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't think so. I mean, I'm not going to treat it as though it is. That's my job, the way I look at it.

On the Nationwide Tour, it's great preparation. I think it's getting a lot of credit now but I still feel it's underrated. I did hold the lead once last year going into Saturday. I don't think I won.

So, I mean, at the same time, I feel comfortable near the lead going into Saturday and Sunday. We'll see what happens. It should be fun.

Q. Do you feel good karma here from two years ago?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely. This is the first course I've played this year that's my second time. I had only played four PGA events prior to this year. So, just knowing that and having that background and experience on a golf course like this, I think it's huge. That was my second event on the PGA TOUR, it was my first cut made.

Q. What did you shoot to qualify that year?

ZACH JOHNSON: I shot 6-under. That was one of my better rounds that year. I played up in Delagna (ph), the course they play right now -- oh, Berkshire (ph)? It's a good golf course.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Zach, and good luck on the weekend.

End of FastScripts.

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