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July 14, 2012

Zach Johnson


THE MODERATOR:¬† Okay, we'll jump right in.¬† Third round, 5‑under 66 here at the John Deere Classic.¬† You find yourself in a great position heading into the final round tomorrow.¬† Just a few comments about today's round and then we'll open it up for questions.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, today was good.  I mean, I think I hit it today as good as I have all week, if not better.  Put myself in position to make a lot of birdies.
There was a lot of positives.  Couple mishaps, but nothing significant.  Good finish, too.  That was nice.  I mean, obviously a birdie on 17, but two good shots on 18 and a good putt; just didn't go in.  A lot of things to build from and I think carry me into Sunday.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.¬† You mentioned the ball‑striking today was as good as it's been for a while.¬† Maybe back to Colonial?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, early on in Colonial.

Q.  Not the final round.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, certainly early on.  A lot of good compressed shots, a lot of good start lines, and never really getting too ahead of myself.
It's really hard to elaborate on that, but I really put the ball in a place where ‑‑ with the exception of No. 4 where you just don't make that big a numbers.
Yeah, quality shots.  I hit love of fairways.  Felt like I hit more fairways today than I have the last couple days.  So yeah, misjudged some lines out of the rough, but nothing significant.

Q.  15 straight rounds in the 60s; obviously this is a comfort zone course for you.  Somebody is going to have to go pretty low again tomorrow it to win this thing, right?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah.  Well, that's what you anticipate here with these conditions.  Minimal winds, pretty warm temperature, ball carries a long ways.  You know, I don't really like expectations, but when it comes to elements, you know, that's fine.
I just expect myself to go out there and have a good process, have good communication with Mike, and hit quality shots again.

Q.  The interest everybody has in you and Stricker here, what would it be like to be paired with him tomorrow?
ZACH JOHNSON:  That's to be determined by you guys I think and the fans.  Doesn't matter who I play with.

Q.  Would you expect a circus, so to speak?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I don't know about the circus.  I think it's just good support.

Q.  (Question regarding Steve's history at the tournament.)  You have had really good years here.
ZACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, I mean, I expect Steve to play well here.  Who wouldn't?  I don't know.  I don't know what the story would be there.  We've both played well here so I don't think it'll be surprising if we both play well again four straight days.
If we get paired together that's one thing, but I don't know.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, yeah, I guess you could probably say so in that regard.  But he's not too far away from here and he's obviously won here numerous times.  He's a great guy.  He's hard not to be a fan of.  He's a good friend of mine.  I love the guy.
Seems like the tournament and the fans embrace him, which they should.  So, yeah, I think it's great.  You know, I think probably some other guys, too, you know, somewhat local over the years.  Certainly embraced D.A. Weibring and that sort of thing.  But nothing surprising there either.  I think that's what this area is all about.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, that's your storyline.  (Laughter.)  We'll just say it like that.  Anything can happen.  I don't know.  There are guys making birdies right now behind me, so I could be six or seven shots off the lead starting tomorrow.  Never know.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  To win.  No, no.  I mean, I feel like I've done this enough now that you can change things or try to make like you're manipulating things to make it better for tomorrow, and it's just not worth it.  Just do what you do.  It's worked for me in the past.
My formula is I've got my kids here, so it'll be giving them baths, changing diapers, trying to eliminate crying.  Nothing different.

Q.  For years you called this your fifth major.  Does that play on your psyche at all?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, not at all.  This is my 11th start here, and on the PGA Tour this is the tournament I've played more than any other.  I would accept any outcome that comes my way.  If it was a missed cut, I would embrace it.  If it's winning, I'll embrace it.  It just doesn't matter.
I want to win.  I want to win every week.  It would be very special to win this week because of where I sit on the board and what this tournament's done for me in the past.

Q.  Are you looking at this run to kind of seal your Ryder Cup spot?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I think that would be a fair assessment.  You're getting down to the last two or three months before the team is selected.  Yeah, getting down there.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  I didn't understand a word you said.  I'm sorry.

Q.  (Question regarding tournament commitments.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, just I think you just get used to it.  Just been experience.  I think the other factor there is the board of this tournament, I might get here Monday or Tuesday, or whenever I come in, and I have minimal obligations with John Deere to the tournament.
They want me to go play.  I don't feel any different.  I really don't.  The only difference is I got a lot more people outside the ropes that I know.  That's really what it boils down to.  Then there will be some more people watching me, outside of like a Tiger Woods gallery or Mickelson gallery.
Really, 1st tee it 18th green I don't feel any difference than any other week.  I guess that's good.  That's the way I would like to approach it.  This is my job.  Nothing more than that.

Q.  Was it always like that?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, it wasn't.  I had expectations I think back in the day, especially because I would shoot sponsor exemptions and felt like I knew the course really well and wanted to play well in front of friends and family.  Now I've done it so many times, to say it doesn't matter is probably not the right phrase, but the outcome is irrelevant.
You just go play.  That takes a little bit of pressure off too when you just go play.

Q.  The tee shot on 15, is that the hardest tee shot for you?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, you know, missed a fairway there twice I guess.  I liked my draw shot, but the fairway slopes right to left.  If you have a right to left wind with a draw it's not ideal.  You just don't know how far the ball is going to release.
It's a fade shot now and I like that.  Last year I don't think I missed a fairway.  Hit four good ones, if I'm not mistaken.  Probably just errant shots, nothing more than that.  Starting to get used to my fade play a little bit better.
Hit one on 18 today and yesterday.  Yesterday was a some.  I like the fade off the tee.  Hit it on 8 today.  I don't mind pulling that shot out, so I'm missing the fairway by three or four yards.  I got to move more left or whatever and trust it.  Nothing more than that.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  What was my previous finish before that?  I don't even know.  Probably made some cuts in there, too, if I'm not mistaken.
Like I said, I think you go back before '09 or whatever and it was probably expectations and trying to force things rather than letting it come to you.  Even though I'm telling myself that, because I was, it's still hard to implement.  Now it just feels more natural to do it.
Bottom line is I've gone into weeks feeling terrible and either won or finished in the top 5.  I felt great going into weeks, I want to be in contention, and miss cuts.
So just learn how to put that stuff aside and play.  It's just experience.  Once again, I've played this golf course more than any other course on TOUR.

Q.  Talk about 17 and the tee shot.
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† Driver off the tee.¬† I hit it he hard, too.¬† Just slight push maybe.¬† Intermediate cut.¬† Had like 244 or 45 front, which is just a perfect 3‑wood.¬† Decent lie.¬† A little fluffy but decent lie, and I caught it perfect.
Those are two of the better shots obviously.  Hit a great putt, too.  Misread it slightly at the end but hit a great putt.

Q.  Were you expecting more movement and lower scores?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I really don't know.  Haven't looked at the leaderboard.  Seen the top three or four guys.  I'm assuming Matteson is in the lead.
ZACH JOHNSON:  He was in the lead going into today?
ZACH JOHNSON:  So I don't know.  I don't know what the low number is.  I don't have any idea.  Sorry.

Q.  (No microphone.)

Q.  Is that normal?
ZACH JOHNSON:  Well, yeah, on Saturday.

Q.  Okay.  Tomorrow you will?
ZACH JOHNSON:  There will come a time I may need to look at it tomorrow, whether it's being more conservative or more aggressive depending on the situation.
But the way I look at it, Dr. Mo and I have talked about it a lot.  Being in contention is not right now.  Being in contention is coming down the stretch inside the last four or five holes.  That's being in contention.
I could be 5‑over through 14 holes tomorrow.¬† I wasn't in contention for the tournament the way I look at it.¬† If I'm 5‑under, never know.

Q.  Do you look at the board before you start?
ZACH JOHNSON:  You mean tonight like?

Q.  Yeah.
ZACH JOHNSON:  I'll know where I'm at going into tomorrow.  I'm not that oblivious to it.  Yeah, I'll know two, five, six shots, whatever.  I'll know.

Q.  Will that change your approach?
ZACH JOHNSON:  No, no.  I mean, I'm not one that can overpower a golf course.  It can change the approach of guys that can overpower places.  I really can't, so I have to play really solid boring golf.  I like that.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  Any time I play with Phil or Tiger.  Those galleries are huge.  Any week, any day.  I played with Tiger for four straight days one week.  I like it because you almost get like a tunnel vision going.

Q.  Can you see this being a similar situation?
ZACH JOHNSON:  If we're paired together?  Sure, could be.  Absolutely.  I mean, I don't know.  Now you're comparing Stricker's and my gallery to arguably the best two players in the game, or certainly one of the best players in the game.
I don't know if there is a comparison here.  Maybe here locally because he's from, what three, four hours away.  Yeah, there could be some similarities.
Probably would have needed that putt to drop on 18, I think.  I don't know where Steve is.  Just assuming he's playing well.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:¬† No.¬† Plus, he's ‑‑ what is he, a Badge‑Ini?¬† I don't know what he is.¬† And he's Bears fan.¬† Which is fine, as long as he's not a Packers fan.

Q.  (No microphone.)
ZACH JOHNSON:  Oh, I think it's great.  Winning two is great; three is terrific.  If he's in contention and has a chance to win, that is great regardless.  That's just great in sport, right?  I mean, someone else coined it this week Steve's Trigger Invitational, so that's awesome.
If I can't win it I wouldn't mind him seeing win it.  I don't care, but I want to congratulations whoever does win.

Q.  What would it mean if you won this tournament?
ZACH JOHNSON:  I don't know.  I really don't know.  I mean, a lot of people said they want me to win and you're going to win and that sort of thing.  A lot of John Deere board members have really encouraged me and pushed me.  I would assume they would be happy about it.
I mean, I don't know.  Never happened, so it's kind of a hypothetical, I guess.  I think it would believe a pretty cool thing.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.

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