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July 18, 2013
MIKE WOODCOCK: Zach, you enjoyed a top-10 finish last
year at Royal Lytham in The Open Championship. You came off a
great performance on the weekend in the playoff. And a great
start today with 5-under par 66. You must be pleased.
ZACH JOHNSON: Very pleased. It was a very solid day. I
felt great. Certainly coming into the week I felt great on the
tee shots today. I felt pretty comfortable on my approach shots.
I had some good numbers to hit some shots close, because that is
part of it here, as firm as it is.
Anytime you shoot under par in an Open or a Major, for
that matter, you have to be putting at least somewhat decent, and
I putted great. I made some nice birdie putts and obviously that
one for eagle. But I struck some really nice solid par putts.
That's what you've got to do to stay in it.
All in at all, very solid, just it's just one round.
Q. Nice start, Zach. Question regarding the conditions out
there and how you saw it, and some of the guys were saying the
later we go it's going to get tougher and tougher and the event is
doing that tomorrow?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes, yes, yes. I'd say for the most part
it's kind of what you expect. You feel like in the morning it's
going to be a little bit easier just because there's less traffic,
specifically around the hole. And so this afternoon it's already
getting a little dicey on some of the pins. My guess is that it's
going to continue.
So tomorrow afternoon, certainly I'm going to expect
maybe a little bit more difficult conditions than when I teed off
today. But I guess you never know. Someone said there could be a
mist at some point, who knows. But the weather is tremendous. I
expect much of the same. It is The Open and you expect difficult
A couple of the pins were pretty tough. But once again,
you know that coming into it. It's not like they were on a
crevice or on a tier. They certainly were playable. You could
miss it one side or the other and manage to two-putt or make a
putt. It's what you expect out of a Major.
Q. How did you manage to lift yourself after Sunday and
having that title snatched away from you like that? It must have
been a real bit of disappointment. How did you manage to get
yourself back up?
ZACH JOHNSON: I had forgotten about it until you just
mentioned it (laughter).
ZACH JOHNSON: No, I'm teasing.
I think you have to. I think this game demands
resilience. It demands resilience on the golf course, each round,
each hole, and day to day. But it also demands it week to week.
And that just comes with experience. That certainly comes with
embracing what's happened and then also throwing it behind you and
plodding along to the future.
I felt great about last week. I'll be honest with you, I
felt, for the most part -- I don't want to say I lost the golf
tournament, but I certainly had ample opportunities to win it.
The last nine holes in particular I hit great shots; didn't make
many putts. However, I made a lot of putts Thursday through
If anything from last week, what I've embraced is the
fact that I'm playing great and I can put that into play, and I'm
certainly somewhat confident in what I'm doing, confident in my
routines. I'm confident in my walk out there. I'm confident in
my lines. And that's what I'm trying to remember last week.
Nothing against the two other gentlemen that I played against,
too, specifically Jordan, because they played great. It wasn't
like there's a whole lot of negative there. If anything, there's
certainly more positives last week than negatives.
Q. You talked about last week, how about talking about last
year. Similar position, second after the first round. What did
you learn from that? How do you do better with that? Is this
course more playable for you to stay higher near the top?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. Well, Lytham - that was
Lytham, right? - yeah, Lytham last year was very, very demanding
off the tee box, which is good for me. I think that's a good
thing for me. And I feel like I'm driving it as good now, if not
better than I was last year.
So I'm very comfortable on the tee box this year.
Specifically with my driver. I know a lot of guys are saying
there's not a lot of drivers out here, which relative to long golf
courses or a Major, for that matter, there probably isn't. But
it's one of my best clubs, so I'm going to take advantage of that
when I can.
Q. How many did you use?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I hit one on 1, certainly hit one on
5, the par-5. I hit one on 9, the par-5. I hit one on 10. 15
and 18. 18 probably being the best. I took out the right bunker,
hitting it, and the left ones were in play, but I hit one good.
Hopefully I can continue my driver form.
Going back to your question, though, you know, certainly
I'm going to try to remember some of the positive things from last
year. I think you're right, I think I did top-10. But I had a
couple up-and-down rounds and a couple of really good ones.
Bottom line is I know I can play on these type of golf courses and
I love them. So what I have learned is that it's still a short
game. I think you still have to be able to lag putt it, you still
have to be able to make those, heck, even two-footers to
five-footers. Whether it's for birdie, par or bogey, those are
the ones that matter the most.
Q. Back to the course setup, Ian Poulter said he called it
18 basically, said he needed a windmill and a clown's map. Do you
know what he means by that? He also was critical of 8, said,
"It's a joke of a hole." What would you have done differently in
terms of the setup for the course?
ZACH JOHNSON: I'm trying to think of 8. Oh, yeah, 8 was
dicey. If you were beyond the hole in your approach shot there
and you're hitting what looks like back up to the fairway on that
hole, that putt was -- I had a read. Thomas Bjorn knocked it ten
feet by. If I hadn't seen that, there's no way I would have hit
it to a foot, putt-lagged it to a foot. That one was tough.
The pins are getting very, very tricky and very
difficult. I think what you've got to pay attention to, frankly
is color. If it's green, it's a little slower. If it's brown,
it's going to continue to roll. And there's probably more of an
element of feel involved.
18, for example, I was probably in between clubs, a
9-iron and 8-iron there, I think I had 155 to the hole. I chose
the one that I felt if I hit it good, it might get it there; if
not, I'm going to be putting uphill. And that's where I left it,
Yeah, I can see some guys saying that. I mean, granted
it's easy for me to stand up here because I shot the lowest score
so far, and I enjoyed the course. But there are some dicey pins.
And it's not going to get any easier as the day goes on. I feel
lucky to be able to tee off early today.
I was talking to Thomas Bjorn about it, my guess is, once
again it's just a guess, I would think they're going to have to
use some water on those greens tonight. I don't know the protocol
involved there. But I would assume there's going to be some sort
of watering, especially where the pins are right now, if they want
to keep that grass, because it's getting very baked, very, very
The only course that comes to my mind that was this dry
was Hoylake. And I forget what year that was, maybe '06.
It's playable, but you've got to really, really pay
attention around the pins, around the hole.
Q. Why do you think there are so many Americans on the
leaderboard? Do you think that's connected to the heat and the
good weather we've had this week?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I haven't looked at the
leaderboard, but that's a good question. I don't know. Maybe
they have the same kind of mentality I have, where -- I'm having
fun. I'm staying with a buddy and my caddie and our caddies, our
physio guy, we're just having a good week. I love it because we
don't have it in the States. If we played this every week, it
would be just another tournament. But we don't get to play golf
courses like Muirfield, essentially but one time a year. Unless
you come over and play Dunhill or something like that.
This type of golf, we've tried to kind of make it over
there. And there's maybe some golf courses that are similar. But
for the most part this is -- I just appreciate how the game was
developed or formed, you know. And once again, I think I leave
here knowing exactly what I need to work on. I just thoroughly
Q. Just curious, Zach, you're a veteran on coming over on
the overnight from the Deere. You seem pretty well adjusted to
that. You've got it down to a science?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know if there's a perfect formula,
but I've kind of got mine. And it's worked somewhat as of late,
anyway. Once again, I love the John Deere Classic, so I'm going
to play that, maybe not every year in the future, but for the most
part I'm going to keep playing. And they're nice enough to grab
that charter and let us fly on that.
I get here Monday, I stay up as late as I can. I played
nine holes Monday late. I played 18 holes Tuesday. Slept
terrible Monday night. Played 18 holes Tuesday. I was exhausted
Tuesday. I slept nearly 12 hours Tuesday night. And then played
another nine holes yesterday. So I got to see every hole twice.
There's minimal time on the range. If anything there was more
time on the practice -- certainly on the golf course, but on the
putting green and chipping green.
So I think my sleep has been good. I had a solid 8 to 9
hours last night, too. So I think I'm acclimated. I don't see
anything that's out of the ordinary yet. I've eaten great, too,
which I'm really excited to do here shortly.
Q. I'm curious, the most positive thing you take out of this
day besides the score, obviously, and with the conditions, if they
stay similar to this, what's it going to take to win this thing,
do you think, from just an overall standpoint?
ZACH JOHNSON: You mean like a number?
Q. Well, even a number, and even the mindset. Everyone is
coming here expecting one thing and --
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I was talking to some others prior
to coming in here, what I have learned this tournament -- solid
shots, solid, crisp shots, you may not get the proper bounce every
time, but for the most part it turns out okay. A mis-hit shot,
you can get a bad break or end up in a very unfortunate position.
So with that being said, striking the ball solid is key.
And the only way to do that is to continue to remain patient. I
think that's the biggest word of the week. You don't know what
the course is going to do as far as the elements involved. I know
the forecast looks tremendous, someone said it actually might get
warmer, which is bizarre.
So you've just got to continue to plod along. I don't
know if there's a perfect formula for it. However, I do know that
patience and perseverance are the two ingredients that are
required to get to that finish line.
So that's going to be my approach. I don't mean to dumb
it down or make it too simple, but I think you kind of have to in
some regards. And make putts. Anytime you see someone hoist the
Claret Jug, it's because they've obviously fought the elements
properly, but they've putted pretty darn good, too.
Q. You said how much you're enjoying staying with the guys
in the house this week.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yes.
Q. What's going on in there that you guys are having so much
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know that we've done anything yet.
I've been at the course or in bed, it seems like. But I'm staying
with Stewart Cink, who is one of my very good friends, and our
caddies and our trainer. Just so happens he's had that Claret
Jug, but we're having fun. We've got some reservations here and
there and just enjoying each others' company; nothing more than
that. We're all good friends. I'm sure we'll start watching
coverage on the BBC as the week goes on, and I'm certainly going
to try to watch as much as I can, and see how the ball is reacting
on certain holes, this afternoon and tomorrow morning.
Q. In 2006 they actually got worried that they might lose a
couple of the greens because they were turning gray almost. How
close are we now to being like that?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know if I'm smart enough to answer
that. I don't have an agronomy degree. But what I do know is, it
was fast and dry Monday when I played. And with that west by
southwest wind, it's going to be warm conditions and it's going to
bake even more. There was a couple of times out there that the
sun came out or peaked out, it felt like it was 85 degrees out
there Fahrenheit. It was baking. My guess is, once again,
they're going to have to utilize some water in certain areas. I
don't know if the fairways -- I don't know what their intentions
are there, if they ever do water them, necessarily. But certainly
in some pin placements and some high areas on the green, where it
can get very firm and fast. That's an assumption.
Q. Or make some different pin placements?
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, clearly, they're going to have to
move it around a little bit. I don't know if they're set for the
week, but my guess is that they'll use some intellect involved
there to make it at least playable so we can finish.
MIKE WOODCOCK: Zach, thank you very much. Well played.
It was a great round today.
ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports