John Deere Classic interview: Zach Johnson

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July 13, 2013


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DOUG MILNE:
Zach Johnson, 4 under 67 today in round 3 of the John Deere Classic. Obviously the fact you're in here again today means you're continuing to play well. Just some comments on today's 67.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, today was good. I certainly think there was a lot more positives out there than negatives. I thought I drove it technically consistently better. A couple of frustration tee shots, specifically the last, but overall I really like the direction, once again. My putter has been great. Even the ones I've missed have been great. Two par putts I missed, I hit them good. I hit one short, but on the proper lines.

You know, I felt good about things. A couple short sided iron shots that I think were probably things I've got to clean up, but nothing more than that.

Q. Did a couple of bombs make up for a couple of bogeys?

ZACH JOHNSON:
Yeah, I think so. Those are the two things that even out right there. One really bad bogey on 6. That was horrible. I had a sand wedge in my hand, and pretty straightforward chip. Terrible bogey. I mean, the bogey on 11, I was hitting a punch 6 iron so it wasn't like I was flipping a wedge in there, but yeah, those two bombs made up for those two bogeys.

Q. How about the first one? Were you trying to hit it close?

ZACH JOHNSON:
There's not a putt out there I'm not trying to make. That's how I view it. I don't need to elaborate much. I'm just trying to hit a solid putt. I had a great read, there's no doubt about that, from Patrick. He hit it 10 feet short and made it coming back. But I knew it was slow. I hit it solid. I hit both of them pretty solid. The one on 14 I thought would straighten out, but it continued to break, and fortunately it went in.

Q. Talk about the tremendous eagle on 2 today.

ZACH JOHNSON:
Yeah, that was what I was referring to. It was a great read from Patrick and just great speed, and fortunately it dropped.

Q. Do you feel you have an advantage going into the final round?

ZACH JOHNSON:
An advantage? An advantage from an experience standpoint, certainly. An advantage from a score standpoint, no, because I'm three back or four back, right?

Q. Three back.

ZACH JOHNSON:
Three back. Well, I don't know who's in second, but I know Daniel is up there. David Hearn? Oh, he's been out here for a while, and it seems like he's knocking on the door, too. Both of them are great players. I hope they're intimidated, but I doubt that's going to be the case. I'm not a very intimidating figure.

Q. Does it help at all being in a similar situation to last year when you did win?

ZACH JOHNSON:
Yeah, I mean, certainly I'm going to embrace some of those feelings that I had last year. What I do remember was that Sunday last year was a complete day of patience. I mean, I got off to a pretty slow start. I think I parred the first six or seven holes even, and I either shot 5 or 6 under that day.

Tomorrow I'm just going to continue doing what I'm doing and hopefully hit some shots close and make some putts because I know I'm not going to be able to shoot even par or 1 under and try to win. They're not going to come back that far at least. At least I don't think they will. That would be a shock.


Q. Any preference personally going into a final round, chasing or --

ZACH JOHNSON:
Q.Preferably about an eight shot lead. No, if you're talking about one shot back or one shot in the lead, I'd rather be in the lead. It's irrelevant to me. And I can understand some individuals like to be kind of chasing, feel like the pressure is off them. But I feel like I've done this enough now that those kind of things are irrelevant. I mean, I've won tournaments with the lead going into Sunday, I've lost tournaments with the lead going into Sunday, and the same with being behind.

Tomorrow it's not going to be a sprint, but I can't get lazy out there.

Q. You talked about feeling a little less pressure in the sense of you go out tomorrow and play with house money?

ZACH JOHNSON:
Well, you know, I don't think so. You know, if there's anything that I'm going to kind of put in my pocket it's the fact that I can do it here on Sunday. More than that, though, having a good day tomorrow, whether I win or lose, is going to be big in the grand scheme of things. Big picture, year end things.

So that being said, I'm excited about tomorrow. I'm not going to go into tomorrow just trying to play well for this week. I mean, there's big picture things that motivate me.

I'm not focused on them necessarily tomorrow, but there's certainly some things I've thought about over the last so many odd weeks and months. I'm playing the next five out of six after this. I have to take the first playoff event off for family matters, but I've got four out of five, because this is the fifth. Excuse me, four out of five. So I've got one week off prior to the Playoffs, and I'm excited about it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

ZACH JOHNSON:
Yeah, those would be two things for sure, but I mean, I've still got a lot of work to do, but I've got great opportunities ahead of me.

Q. Do you go into tomorrow with a number you're trying to hit or do you kind of scoreboard watch?

ZACH JOHNSON:
Yeah, there's not going to be a number. I won't scoreboard watch much, either. I know I've got to make some birdies. I'll look at the board when I need to. I've kind of got I don't know if there's a perfect formula, but I've got a plan in that regard. I mean, it's nothing overly secretive, it's just continue doing what I'm doing, and then when it's time to look, it's time to look. That's kind of what I did last year, and it's what I've done in other tournaments. I'm comfortable with that approach.

Q. Is there a difference trying to defend here where you have hometown pride versus trying to defend any other places you've won?

ZACH JOHNSON:
I don't know. That's a good question. I don't think there's any difference. I don't feel like I'm defending. That's kind of I mean, last year just feels like it was so long ago. If it was last week, it would be different, but it's long and gone. I'm focused on this week, and it feels like it's a new year, et cetera, et cetera. I felt the same way at Colonial. I mean, it just felt like it was so long prior to that that I won.

Yeah, I think tomorrow is a day that I've just got to stay in the present, and I feel like I'm in a place to do that.

Q. Home course advantage tomorrow with the fans, do you think that's an advantage for you?

ZACH JOHNSON:
I don't know if it's having great support and some pretty loud cheers here and there, roars, that kind of some of these holes that have kind of the arena setting are very it's awesome. I love it. It motivates me. It's great, especially if you make 100 feet of putts in two holes. I couldn't hear my father in law today because everybody was screaming over the top of him.

Yeah, I mean, I love it. Just having all that support, seeing go Hawks, whatever it is, Transamerica folks out there, McGladrey folks, it's pretty awesome.

Q. Playing near the final group on Sunday, and you've had the experience enough, do you notice when there's motion in front of you, when there are roars?

ZACH JOHNSON:
Today you mean or ...

Q. Any time in the past when you've played ..

ZACH JOHNSON:
. Yeah, you can't help but notice. However, when there's not roars you don't know what's going on. Are they pars or bogeys? You don't know, so it's irrelevant. There's going to be roars, especially here, because there's so many good birdie opportunities.

Q. The two guys in front of you are both going to be looking for their first victory. You've been there before. Does that give you an advantage and do you empathize with what they're going through trying to get their first win on TOUR?

ZACH JOHNSON:
Yeah, we did touch upon it. I think it's hard to really pinpoint that because both individuals are different players and probably approach it differently from a mental standpoint.

My guess is that they're going to come out firing, and I don't know why they wouldn't. I mean, we know every year at John Deere it takes a lot of birdies to win. Yeah, they're new in that position, but they're out on the PGA TOUR, so they kind of know what they're doing. My focus is certainly not going to be on those two guys. My focus is strictly on me, and my guess is that will be their focus, too, at least I hope it will be.

DOUG MILNE:
Zach, thanks for your time. We appreciate it.

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