What they said: Zach Johnson

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December 03, 2009
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Chevron World Challenge transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: Zach, welcome back. Thanks for joining us again for a few minutes after a successful round 4-under-par 68. We talked briefly yesterday about the importance of having finished the end of the season as strong as you did, and kind of using this tournament as a gauge.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah.

DOUG MILNE: And obviously the gauge indicator is pretty much where you want it to be.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah. It was good. I mean, I took 16 days off, I guess it was, before I hit a ball after Disney. So that was Tuesday of this week.

And most of it was by choice. There was a couple of times I could've practiced I just didn't do it.

So but yeah, I wanted to come here fresh, and that I am. I also wanted to come here on tangent. This is tangent. But we brought our trainer with me, so this is kind of an off-season workout week. We're trying to be in the gym a lot. That sounds -- well, anyway, my point is this week is a week to get ready for the 2010 season and for me to work out. It's a workweek. But it's going well.

DOUG MILNE: OK. We'll take a few questions.

Q. Zach, kind of a grooves question. There was two times on the back nine, No. 13, you ran your chip about eight feet by. You looked a little surprised. And then again on 16 you seemed to kind of play it a little bit more as a bump-and-run out of the rough.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah.

Q. Were those instances --

ZACH JOHNSON: Both shots I executed exactly like I wanted to. Yeah, the one on 13 was -- what was that? It's no big deal.

The one on 13 was a bit bizarre just because I hit it -- I'm not saying I always guess right or read it right, but I hit it exactly where I wanted to, and that went about eight feet by, ten feet by, so I don't know if it was grooves. I don't know if it's the poa annua. I mean the poa annua out here is spongy and it kind of bounces and it doesn't really hold your spin. You know, it would be nice if I could've hit both of those shots with square grooves.

Going back to the one on 16, that was a terrible lie and I just tried to fluff it out there and I figured it would top spin-out of there.

Q. (Indiscernible).

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it could be. It very well could be. Yeah, what's bizarre about it is it was uphill and on a tight lie, and usually tight lies if you hit it correct, they spin a lot, and that's exactly what I did. So yeah, I think that's a feasible conclusion. You know, if I had square grooves, it would have been four feet. I don't have any idea. But it's possible. It's very possible.

I think the shots that are going to notice it the most are the ones where you have to get deep on it and get down on it, and when you have the square grooves and get deep on it and down on it and you hit it crisp, it spins.

The one thing we've noticed, Disney and this week, quite frankly, I need about four golf balls a round, maybe, just because I'm not chewing them up, which is really bizarre. As deep as you get -- and the golf balls aren't exactly soft like they once were with the V-grooves. So they think this is going to help manufacturers save money in golf ball production.

Q. (Indiscernible).

ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you. Pun intended. Doug.

DOUG MILNE: Zach, can you talk about the way the course is playing right now and also what kind of buzz in the atmosphere without the host on the grounds? Does it feel any different at all out there?

ZACH JOHNSON: The course? Is that your first question? Yeah. I mean I really can't compare it to other years except for two years ago when I was here, and two years ago it's great.

This year it's fantastic. The greens are great. They're spongy and they're poa annua, but that's what you expect. The fairways -- I mean, I'm getting picky. They're a little bare, but that's what I kind of like because it makes it -- you gotta hit it crisp. You gotta hit it solid. It's not like you're getting terrible lies in fairways. They're just bare. They're tight. So it's difficult. Yeah, they're doing a great job on the golf course.

You know, I mean he was here two years -- yeah, he won it, so obviously. Yeah, I don't know if there's the buzz -- quite frankly, I think there's less of a buzz. Stewart and I were talking about that. As chaotic it really might be because he's not here. I mean I wish he was, granted, but you know, there's -- I think there's less media.

I mean, I don't know, but it feels like there's less media.

You know what, nice thing today, and Lucas and I played out there today, and the fans came out. That was nice to see. There was still a good number of fans on the ground. The weather was perfect, and I think the forecast is pretty good for the rest of the week. So we'll see.

So the fans were great and so are the sponsors, and having them out here and still supporting us is great.

Q. Just a real quick follow-up on that because obviously you probably anticipated some questions about all this coming into the week. A lot of people have said once you get to the golf, that it eventually is going to focus and get back to the golf. Did you sense that today??

ZACH JOHNSON: I think so, yeah. I mean I haven't even talked about it today. I mean, you know, I mean it hasn't even been a thought. So you know, there was some folks out there that watched us from the first hole. And I mean quite a few that watched us from the first hole, and that was awesome. They followed us the entire day.

Q. (Indiscernible).

ZACH JOHNSON: Lucas's mom. But my point is they're out here to watch golf. They're not out here to see what's going on. They're out here for the right reasons, and I mean 16, on the par-5, that grandstand was packed. So I mean I think that says a lot of about certainly Chevron and the Tiger -- Chevron and the Tiger Woods Foundation, but it also says a lot about the depth of the field we have here, the talent of the field we have here, and says a lot about good weather on a good golf course.

Q. Even with having won the Masters two years ago, do you think looking at statistically was this your best year??

ZACH JOHNSON: Yes.

Q. Why? I mean what made it that way? I mean obviously the numbers indicate that.

ZACH JOHNSON: Right. I was in contention a lot more often this year. That was part of it. I mean I had two wins and -- that didn't really answer your question, though.

I think my golf game's just becoming more refined. We establish goals going into every year, at the end of every year. We have our team summit, which really is we just butt heads. It's actually a lot of fun. And then we, you know, once we figure out two or three, three or four things that we need to focus on, then we figure out how to get to that point, what drills am I going to do both on and off the golf course to try to accomplish those goals.

And '08 was pretty lofty goals, but you know, there was a lot of stuff going on. We were not -- we were getting ready to move. We then did move, and once we got settled a little bit, then I started to calm down a little bit and my golf game improved. So I mean that probably had a little bit to do with it, too. Moving stinks.

But yeah, I mean statistically it's been one of my best years. I've had the most top-10s I've ever had in a year. I mean I don't know my numbers. I've had them recited to me, but yeah, for the most part it's been best -- the best part is I've putted better. I've had a couple of years where I putted better, specifically on the Nationwide Tour and some other years, so I think that's still going to be the area of focus.

And then my short game is going to be -- I mean I'm not going to get too specific here, but I'm not going to hit it much further than what I am. Maybe on occasion. Maybe I'll get a little stronger I'll hit it further. My greens in reg are pretty good, I hit a lot of fairways. My scrambling stat was better this year. I actually reached that goal, and then my par-5s are getting better, my birdies, you know, whatever.

But if you look at my stats relative to say Tiger's, it's not even close. It's not even close on the short game. I mean it's not even close. So that's encouraging. I mean encouraging in the sense that, one, he's a freak, and two, I can improve.

Q. And a couple of questions, your details on your birdies, what are two or three of the best shots you hit today and why??

ZACH JOHNSON: I birdied all the par-5s, which was good.

Q. Lay up on all of them??

ZACH JOHNSON: No. Doug.

Q. Standard questions.

ZACH JOHNSON: Two-putted the second hole, thank you. I did lay up on the fifth hole, I think -- fourth hole -- fifth hole. And I hit a wedge to about a foot, foot and a half.

I miss-hit a wedge on 10 and still made birdie, which is probably a good thing. I took the spin off of it. That was a tough pin. 10, 11, two-putted 11 for birdie.

Yeah. I was hitting 3-woods. Lucas was hitting 4-irons.

Q. (Indiscernible).

ZACH JOHNSON: Drove the green on one? No. No. I almost had to try. Hit a pretty good bunker shot.

Left shot -- I think the hardest shots out here you just gotta pucker up on a couple of tee shots, especially if you hit a driver. One is like 4 or -- 4's not easy. You can hit driver. Certainly on 13, the par-5, that's not easy. 14 for some reason I have -- the ones with the elevated tees. 16, the par-5, I can't hit that. They're tough.

So I think those are the hardest shots. Two out of those three or four shots I really hit nice. So those are some of the best shots I hit, for sure.

Q. Couple years, three, four five years ago, whatever it was, Darren Clarke got off to a good start and thought he might have a chance. He didn't drink the rest of the week --

ZACH JOHNSON: He didn't drink the rest of the week?

Q. And then regretted it when he didn't win. I just wanted to plant that anecdote with you from a standpoint of what you're trying to accomplish this week. You already talked about working out and working toward 2010. What are kind of your goals, if you will? What are you trying to accomplish out of the week and is winning one of them or is it just something --

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I want to win. There's no question about it. I feel like my game is in a position good enough to win. I don't like the cliche, but every time I tee it up I want to win.

This week, yeah, you know, Stewart and I have our trainer out here, so for me, I don't live in Orlando anymore, and that's where he was. For me, his resources and this week and technically next week in Naples, those are weeks where I'm not going to practice a whole lot after I get done. I'm going to go to the gym and I'm going to work out. I feel like I can still compete that way. But I know what's going to help me in 2010.

So staying in that competitive mode for the 2010 season this week is the goal on the golf course. Really trying to iron out my thinking, my process and my routine, and so it carries over to next week and then obviously to 2010.

Other than that, I mean it isn't any different -- I'm trying not to treat it any different. Once I get off the golf course, it's a little different. The workouts stink. I'm hurting right now.

Q. Have you already had the team summit this year??

ZACH JOHNSON: Yes.

Q. Can you tell us what three or four goals that you've set for next year??

ZACH JOHNSON: It's funny, yeah. I mean '09 was the best season, so basically the goals are the same. The numbers are changed. Like my goals aren't outcome-oriented goals. It's not like I'm going to win three times, I want to make a cup team, I want to have five Top 10s. It's nothing to do with that. It's like taking three specific goals -- three specific areas of my game, statistical areas of my game and trying to get -- if we feel -- for example, scrambling, right, if I can get that to a certain level and keep everything else like it has been, my driving percentage and my greens in reg, then that's going to take me to another level.

My putting average and then my birdie percentage conversion rates on par-5s. So those are three areas just the same as they were in '08. They've not changed. They've gotten higher. Now, trying to accomplish those were changed. Just certain drills I'm going to do differently, or more focused on those drills really.

Q. Secondly, on 18, Damen stepped in behind you before you were about to hit.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah.

Q. Was he lining you up thinking it was a practice round? Was that it and then he realized?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yep. I got no comment. That's Damen. He's 49. (Laughs). And he's tired, man. Those hills aren't easy. I just hope I have him next year, if you know what I mean.

DOUG MILNE: OK. We appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

ZACH JOHNSON: My pleasure.

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