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March 27, 2012

Johnson Wagner


JOHN BUSH:テつ We'd like to welcome Johnson Wagner into the interview room here at the Shell Houston Open.
Johnson, took over the top spot again in the FedExCup Points list last week.テつ Just a tremendous year.テつ You won at the Sony Open and now you're back here at the Shell Houston Open where you won in 2008.
First of all, talk a little bit about the season you've had.
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ The season has been very good to start out, obviously, with a win and a 2nd and 4th and 9th.テつ I think I've quadrupled my previous best Top-10 total for the year.
I'm work really hard.テつ It's nice to see stuff payoff so quickly in the year and I've set myself up for some big goals for the rest of the year and hopefully the rest of my career and, you know, it's great to be in Houston.
I've always said this is kind of a Major for me.テつ I love being in Texas and from Texas originally and just Houston is like home and the Houston Golf Association, all the folks here treated me like family and treated my family real well and just real happy to be in Houston.
JOHN BUSH:テつ Talk a little bit about Redstone and this golf course, how it sets up for you.
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ It sets up great for me off the tee.テつ I like to hit a little right to left draw off the tee.テつ This golf course, with the exception of a couple holes, really favors a right to left flight so, you know, the greens are perfect which is also favorable for me and I just love being here, everything about it.
JOHN BUSH:テつ All right.テつ Questions?

Q.テつ Johnson, was there something in particular about your game over the last couple of seasons, obviously coming off of the Nationwide and now just ascend so quickly?テつ What's happened.テつ Something kind of clicked with you in your game?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ Little bit.テつ I had a good rookie year in '07, won here in '08, then kind of fell off the planet.テつ Thought golf was easy.テつ Didn't work at it as hard as I could.
Had a couple kids which slowed me down mentally practicing and stuff.テつ Obviously I loved having the kids.テつ I hired a trainer about this time last year and I've just had so much more energy since working with him and worked out hard this winter and just really practicing on the right stuff and listening to my coach and caddy and really taking advice from the people that I trust that are around me.

Q.テつ Did the victory kind of trigger the complacency in '08?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ I worked really hard leading up to it.テつ I'm not going say it was easy.テつ It wasn't easy at all. テつBut I think I then had really high expectations for myself and when I wasn't winning every week or even having chances, I think I just -- I don't know.テつ I don't know.テつ I went into a little dark place in my golf career.

Q.テつ When you look at your game statistically, doesn't look like it's dramatically different other than looking at scrambling stats.
How much of that sort of has been a point of emphasis and how much of that is correlated to how much better you're scoring and all that?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ My short game has always been kind of a weak link.テつ I kind of worked with this guy from Dallas, Texas, Tony Martinez last year and a little bit this year.テつ He's coming into Houston tonight.
He's helped me a lot with my short game.テつ I'm a very good putter.テつ I don't have to chip it that great.テつ I have to get it up there relatively close and I can get it up and down.
The difference between chipping it to five feet or ten feet is exponentially better.テつ I don't think my short game is where it needs to be but I think I'm overall getting it closer to the hole which is allowing me to get up and down more.

Q.テつ Is the fact that you always felt you were a good putter part of the reason maybe you didn't -- you always felt like you putt well, you feel like you already had a good short game, maybe you didn't break it down that way?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ You know, I think I just neglected that part of my game.テつ It's fun to hit balls and it's fun to have a little putting game or drill to do but I've never enjoyed practicing chipping.
So I'm learning to enjoy it and I'm really enjoying it on Sundays when I chip it to a foot and don't have to think about a par putt.

Q.テつ There's a lot of golfers, intangibles that go into the mental part of your game.テつ You talked about coming here and playing and playing in Texas.テつ You played well in San Antonio last year.
Is there a comfort level for you from being from this state playing in these events?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ Definitely.テつ My caddy lives here in Houston now as well so anytime we're in Texas we just kind of -- we feel comfortable, both of us.テつ So it's -- I like going everywhere where.テつ We're very fortunate on the PGA TOUR.テつ We play the best golf courses every week.テつ They get them in perfect condition for that one week for us to come in and play.
It's hard to find a lot of faults with any golf course.テつ But it seems like when I come to Texas I, you know, have extra motivation or feel extra comfortable.

Q.テつ You touched on the kind expectations you have for this year now.テつ Has what you've been doing really ramped up the expectation or did you go into the year with a different mindset in terms of what your expectations were?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ Well, I had pretty big goals starting the year and then I had some even bigger goals starting the year and since I've started so well -- you know, I've already won which is a goal.
You know, I have over a thousand FedExCup Points.テつ I've reached some early on goals that have now allowed me to reach bigger goals like qualifying for the Tour Championship, Ryder Cup, playing in all four Majors for the first time in my career.
So it's just nice to be able to talk about those and actually, you know, actually have them be attainable.

Q.テつ I wonder how interesting is it to have all this, you're not that far from the Top 50 in the world and a lot of things that can -- you know, lot of possibilities.
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ It's nice and, you know, I was really close to getting into the Match Play after my 2nd place at the Hope and I took the next week off and then went into Phoenix and needed a good week in Phoenix to qualify for the Match Play.
Had a good couple rounds.テつ Got a little ahead of myself and ended up having a bad weekend, not really coming close, finishing 72nd or something in the World Rankings.
It was a good lesson the more you think about that kind of stuff, the harder it is to actually achieve it.テつ You -- it's better to go out, focus on playing good golf and those sort of things will take care of themselves.
Now sitting in here or if I'm at home talking to my parents or wife or somebody, it's nice the talk about Ryder Cups and all that stuff but I'm kind of learning as I go along that if I'm thinking about the Ryder Cup when I'm playing in a tournament I'm probably not going to get the opportunity to play on that team.

Q.テつ You talk about winning years back and the kind of a dark period in your golf game and everything.テつ Now you're back to where you'd like to be.
What's the difference in Johnson Wagner now than at that time?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ I think my coach has told me all year, he said don't let the little stuff get you down.テつ It's a cliche but, you know, I used to let one bogey, one silly bogey with a wedge in my hand turn into three out of the next five holes and now I'm just kind of letting the bad stuff that I do, the kind of stupid mistakes, for lack of a better word, I'm letting them roll off me a little easier and not letting them affect me for the in next two, three holes.
I'm having fun, really.テつ Not getting stressed, not getting upset.テつ It's not like I throw clubs or anything but I can get pretty upset with myself if I make a bogey from the fairway.テつ So I'm just trying to be more patient and let that sort of stuff roll off.

Q.テつ You still going tournament to tournament in the RV?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ No.テつ We have two kids now.テつ We tried it for two weeks last year.テつ It just didn't work (laughter).テつ I'm looking to sell it (laughter).テつ I think I might have an offer on the table but -- no.テつ I wish.テつ I loved RV'g but it's too much with two young kids, it's too much driving.

Q.テつ Is there a good mustache story or anything?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ I mean it's insane.テつ Every week -- well, for the last few weeks I've had a couple good parings and people know who I am.テつ I don't think they know my name but they know me as the "Mustache Guy" (laughter).
I've heard, "Best mustache on Tour".テつ But I guess the only person to compare it to is Rickie Fowler.テつ His mustache is terrible.テつ He looks like Captain Jack Sparrow.
It's incredible.テつ It's kind of given me my own little brand, I guess.テつ It was not the -- it was not my intention starting the year.テつ Thought if I played well it would give me a little more recognition.テつ It's kind of been unbelievable.テつ It's definitely not gone anywhere.

Q.テつ Thought about trademarking it?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ Maybe one across my chest?

Q.テつ Nobody in golf doing the Brian Wilson thing.
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ I got the dark facial hair, which could help.

Q.テつ Johnson, kind of a Master-related question.テつ What Schwartzel did last year to birdie the last four holes coming down the stretch to win his first Major, looking back a year later, what was your reaction to it and how hard is it to do that in a regular tournament?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ I mean we've seen this year how many guys have had the lead going into Sunday and not many people have held on to a 54 hole lead this year so it's never easy to win a PGA TOUR event.
But to birdie the -- I remember watching that event.テつ It was probably the best Major Championship for viewing that I've ever seen.テつ I've watched a lot of golf.
Tiger made a run early.テつ There was, I think, at one point, ten guys within one or two shots of the lead and it was anybody.テつ They couldn't show -- I remember Bo Van Pelt made eagle on 15 and it's the only time they showed him.テつ They couldn't show everybody that had the chance to win.テつ Schwartzel kind of came out of nowhere and birdied 4 in a row and ended up winning by 2.テつ It's some of the most exciting golf I've ever seen.テつ To do it to win a Major is pretty special.

Q.テつ As a player, what do you have to do to do something like that, just put your head down and birdie, not just par, birdie?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ 15 is an easy birdie.

Q.テつ We'll give him that and 16, too.
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ You just have to be so focused on what you're doing.テつ He obviously knew where he was and how many guys were around him.
He wanted it more than anybody else did, I guess.テつ The putts went in for him when they did.テつ I've never been in that position so I can't really answer.

Q.テつ I was going to say, have you ever done it even in a junior tournament or anything like that?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ I've birdied the last four holes on the PGA TOUR probably once, maybe.テつ That's always the goal, coming down the stretch or any -- any round in the tournament we get to the last four and my caddy says, "All right, it's time.テつ Let's do what we do, let's birdie the last four."
I've gotten one or two most of the time but birdieing all four of them is pretty tough.

Q.テつ In '08 you went -- you had a birdie on 18 and then you parred it the next three days.テつ How much of a key was that to the whole weekend, that specific hole?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ 18, anybody in this field would take even par for the week on that hole.テつ It's a challenging tee shot, challenging second shot.
It gives you room to bail out to the right both the first and second but it's not an easy par for me in those places.テつ I didn't know that I played it that well that week but playing 18 even or under par is huge for the week.

Q.テつ Is that hole kind of on your mind as you go, is it that imposing?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ Little bit.テつ I remember in '08 I was -- I didn't think about it, we have a shuttle from 17 to 18.テつ I got in the shuttle and I was starting to panic about the tee shot with a two shot lead.
We pulled up to the tee box and the group in front was just hitting off the tee.テつ I just thought to myself, "Oh, great, now I got to wait for ten minutes on this tee box with a two shot lead."
I stood on the tee trying not to look at the fairway.テつ I didn't want to let the water creep in.テつ I'm a better golfer than I was then.テつ I think I can get it on land or bunker a lot easier than I did back then.
But, you know, it's a monster of a hole.テつ One of the best finishing holes we have on Tour.

Q. テつYour donation to The First Tee here.テつ Talk about why you want to do that and you hope that money does here in Houston.
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ Well, I mean The First Tee is really a special organization, real close to my heart.テつ Golf has done so much for me and, you know, I've been fortunate to visit many First Tees all over the U.S. including this one and, you know, I wanted to give it all to Charlotte but, at the same time, I love Houston, I've won here, my caddy is from here.
I thought that splitting it between the two would be a good thing.テつ I just -- the First Tee brings kids into golf that wouldn't normally have that access.テつ So, if they can just -- I think there's a slogan is, "Ten Million More Kids".
I hope it brings more kids into the program and gives them and teaches them the lessons that I've learned through golf to become a stand-up member of society.

Q.テつ You mentioned Tony Martinez.テつ Is Tony from Keeton Park?

Q.テつ How long have you guys been together?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ He came the Charlotte to see me right before The Playoffs last year, the week of Greensboro.テつ I met him a couple years ago.テつ He was working with Rich Barcelo.テつ I really just liked his attitude.テつ He had great energy, great mojo, just a really good guy to be around, real positive and then like he came to the Hope this year and he's coming here this week.
We talk on the phone quite a bit.テつ Not quite a year but --

Q.テつ Is there any one thing technically that you can tell us that he's helped you with?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ He's gotten me a little taller over the ball.テつ My tendency is to have low hands at address when chipping.テつ Makes for pretty wristy, inconsistent strikes.
It's funny because my Coach, Bobby Hines, who I worked with for ten years or more now, he has the best short game of anybody I've ever seen, PGA TOUR, amateur, what have you.
He's just never been able to teach how he plays the short game to me.テつ And the way Tony teaches it is, in my mind, the way Bobby executes it.テつ It's a really good combo.テつ I think when the three of us -- we haven't had the chance to work together yet.テつ I think when that happens, we'll get some good ideas.

Q.テつ Your workout thing, has your weight changed or is it just redistributed?
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ I got on the scale, some lady had a scale at the airport, an electronic scale.テつ I got on it Sunday night after Bay Hill.
It said I was the same weight that I was when I started working out.テつ I'm thinking either her scale was off or maybe mine at home is off.テつ I really haven't lost much weight but I'm two to three inches in on my pants and a couple belt loops.テつ I think I've redistributed.テつ I've got so much muscle now (laughter), strong.テつ The mustache weighs ten pounds.
No.テつ I think it's redistributed.テつ I feel better.テつ I look better.テつ So I've got a long way to go, though.
JOHN BUSH:テつ All right.テつ Anything else?テつ Johnson Wagner, thank you, sir.
JOHNSON WAGNER:テつ Thank you guys.

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