What they said: Zach JohnsonAugust 22, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: The Barclays interview transcripts archive
JOHN BUSH: We have Zach Johnson joining us here at the Barclays. Zach, No. 4 in the FedExCup standings. It's been a great year, two wins. Just get your comments on the season as a whole and then also being back in the Playoffs.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, the season has been certainly a lot more positives than negatives. I think it's been a season of I think 2012 is a product of 2011. Really did some nice things last year, just didn't show up on paper or on my scorecard, if you will. But I felt like it was the direction was good and the process was good, it was just a matter of sticking to it, and it started to finally surface this year.
My putting has been probably as consistent as I've seen it in a long time. I'm sure there's periods of missed putts, but for the most part, it's been really solid. That's probably what's carried me. I don't really look at stats and rankings and that sort of thing, but I'm assuming that it's probably one of my strengths this year.
So yeah, I mean, I'm excited. There's a lot of goals that I set out to try to accomplish, and for the most part I knocked some of those off the list, and there's still a lot left. That's the beauty of the Playoffs and obviously going into the fall.
Q. I'd like to ask you about a couple of holes on the back nine, the 13th hole, par 5, 554, tactically it's the only par 5 on the back. How do you approach that hole? Is it a birdie hole? How do you approach that hole?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I mean, I wouldn't approach it any different than any other hole. Bethpage is a place you've got to get the ball in the fairway. The rough is penal, especially on a par 5 where if you can get there in two, which I played that hole yesterday I think I played that hole yesterday yeah, I cut across from 5 to 13. It was into the wind, so I couldn't get home. Some guys will probably get home in two. But I think it's one you've got to get the ball in the fairway, and then your lay up shot you can really be ultraconservative and have 140 to 150 on your third shot or you can try to lay it up over the trap into a more narrow fairway and hit a wedge in.
It's all about tee shot, I think, there. The green is pitched at you like most of them are, so it's not a really big concern. I mean, it's a par 5. Any time you have a chance to get a wedge in your hand, you feel like it's a hole that you should have an opportunity for birdie. I don't know if it's a birdie hole.
Q. And then 17, 209 yard par 3, slightly uphill, tactically where it's placed at the end of the round, is that more of a conservative play for you??
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I don't think it matters where you put it. My approach into any hole is the same. I mean, just depending on the conditions, depending on where the pin is, depending on the wind, it depends on all those things. I mean, the only time my approach is different is Sunday late in the day if I'm relatively in contention, then your approach could be different, more conservative or more aggressive. But that's irrelevant Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit more about the golf course, what you like, what you dislike??
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I was trying to explain, I can't remember who it was, someone that didn't play in '09, I forget. But just to me, the whole place is just big. It's almost like I mean, the property is big. Everything about it is just big. It's almost like each hole is its own little you don't see another hole, you're on that hole and that's it. There's a couple holes that are side by side, especially on the back nine. But elevated tee shots, uphill tee shots. It's just everything about it is just big. Granted, my memory of '09 is we had a deluge, so there was no roll. I think as of right now we're getting some roll, and we could even get more roll if the forecast stays the same.
But I think it's great. I mean, it's right out in front of you. It's not hidden. There's certain holes you've just got to get off with a great shot, starting the tee box through the green, and that's what separates a championship course from an okay course. I think this does it.
The greens are great. The poa annua is in great condition. They've done a great job from what I've witnessed. I think knowing our TOUR, I think they'll mix up tee boxes, also probably mix it up based on where the pins are, based on where the wind is. They've done a good job of kind of changing things around and keeping us on our feet.
No, but this place is always you know what you're going to get when you come here. It's posted on the sign, right? It's good. I think you can score, but I think it's good.
Q. You kind of answered this a little bit, but I just wanted to know, other than the wetness/dryness factor, does it look and feel the same as it did in '09??
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, for the most part. It seems like there's from what I remember any U.S. Open, it just seems like the rough right off the fairway is so consistently thick and green, and there's rough this week, don't get me wrong, you miss it in the rough, you're going to pay the price. But at the U.S. Open you rarely have the opportunity to advance it to the green. I don't know what the height differences are or if there is any difference, but it just seems like the U.S. Open has more rough.
Q. I know that the way they set up the groupings you'll be with Tiger and Rory, I believe, right??
ZACH JOHNSON: I assume so.
Q. The big picture here, you're playing for $10 million in the FedExCup Playoffs, and a lot of that is due to what Tiger has done for the game. Can you just give a thought big picture on what Tiger has meant for your livelihood, for your business?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, you can't deny the fact that he's taken the game to another level. I mean, guys have done that prior to him, and I think guys will probably continue to do that. I don't know that we know who those individuals are yet. But yeah, I mean, the game of golf has grown, and then when you kind of inject Tiger Woods into it, it just adds another boost to it, I guess. In the late '90s it just started to skyrocket. And fortunately we have a guy, I think, who understood that and a TOUR who understood that in Tim Finchem, and we've made of best of that from a business platform, from a financial platform, and certainly it's helped me and my peers financially. I mean, you can't deny that, relative to the '80s and '90s.
But I think we've also shown that when he had some injuries and whatnot that we can survive without him, too, and we can build and grow. So he is a huge, huge part of the PGA TOUR, no one is going to deny that. But I still think that our game is in a great position, and I think that our product is in a great position with the PGA TOUR. I don't think anyone or any entity is above that.
Q. Playing with Tiger and Rory, I mean, obviously everybody is kind of fired up to see those two guys head to head. Will you feel a little bit lost in the mix in that, and how do you fare when you play with Tiger??
ZACH JOHNSON: I've played with both of them before, so that's not going to be any surprise. Two guys that you certainly can get caught up watching just because of the shots they can hit, shots they can hit that I can't hit. I'm just hoping my boring golf kind of gets in the way, and that's really what it boils down to. I like boring golf. That's kind of what butters my bread, so to speak.
But yeah, I mean, I guess it's one of those situations where I mean, I'm going to relish the opportunity because I think they're two of the best players that I play with, certainly two of the better players that are playing right now in the world.
I guess if I wasn't playing with them and I was working out or in my hotel, I'd probably be watching them on TV, so now I've got a firsthand watch. I know the crowd will be pushing them quite heavily, and it'll be fun. If that comes true, I'm assuming that's what's happening. I heard Jason is not playing, so if that's the case, I'm assuming that's where we're going to be.
Q. Just on a different topic, this time of year, the dynamic of this time of year on the TOUR with the Playoffs and with this being a Ryder Cup year, there's a lot of multitasking going on probably in a lot of guys' minds. The first thing you heard out of Sergio's mouth yesterday in North Carolina was about the Ryder Cup, less about winning for the first time since '08. You're obviously secure with your Ryder Cup spot. Can you talk about being on the other side of that eight and trying to deal with guys that are going to be here this week trying to win this tournament and trying to position themselves but also trying to get to the Ryder Cup??
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I've been on both sides of that. Fortunately I'm on the secure side this year.
Yeah, every year you start off, one of your goals is the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup, depending on the year, and I think those are outcome oriented goals, so you have objectives you have to accomplish. Those goals are really what's more important, and I think this is one of them.
It's really easy to say it, but I think Captain Davis Love said it best. He's like, I want those guys to go play for the PGA Championship and play for the PGA Championship. I want those guys to get in the Playoffs and play for the Playoffs, play for the FedEx, play for the Barclays, play for the Deutsche Bank, play for the BMW and let things fall where they fall. It's easy to say that, but that's exactly what has to happen. You have to stay in the moment, you have to stay in each week, each round, and I think you have to embrace the fact that you're going to have those Ryder Cup thoughts, but yet you still have to be able to push them aside and hit shots.
And the guys that I see that are kind of on that list or short list, if you will, they all have done it and will do it again. I'm not too concerned about it. I don't have any idea what he's leaning towards. Frankly I'm glad I don't have to know and I don't have to decide. But as I told someone else I think last week or two weeks ago, whoever he picks, it's going to be completely justified, because they're all good.
Q. As someone who gets to wear that green jacket every year, what did you think of the decision yesterday by Augusta National to include two women members??
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, well, I don't know the overall thought process on it. I mean, I'm not in on those things, nor should I know, I guess, really. I've never questioned anything that Augusta National has ever done because I've messed up in some of the protocol there, and it's my own doing, but just ignorance, I guess.
They've got their decision, their decision making and what they want, and they'll do it when the timing is right. In my opinion, or based on what I've read and what I've seen, the timing is right to have a couple women members so far and hats off to them. If that's their prerogative and that's the direction they want to go, that's fantastic. I don't know the specifics. I know this time of year is when they start inviting new members, so I know there's a longer list than just two women.
Knowing some of the members there, they're always very gracious to have new members come in, and I don't foresee that being any different. It seems like Chairman Payne is a guy well, I think he's great. I think he certainly has always had a pretty open mind about things, and that's why you've seen some tweaks and changes at Augusta and the Masters. Yeah, I think it's fantastic.
Q. You talked about the course and your game on the Black course. Talk to me about the spectators and the placement of the Zach Johnson fans along the back nine or the front nine for that matter.
ZACH JOHNSON: The placement, meaning where are they going to be standing?
Q. Yeah, how they'll impact your game.
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think there's probably more impact on Saturday and Sunday if I'm not playing with Rory or Tiger. So knowing what I've read and seen and experienced with Tiger and Rory, their fans are probably a bit more abundant and probably a little more loud than mine. So I don't know how many Zach Johnson fans will be out there, but I'll be hopefully embracing them and hopefully hitting some quality shots.
Anyway, it doesn't matter. It's fantastic for our sport. New York fans are sports fans and New England fans are sports fans, and it's always nice coming back here, because they're not afraid to speak loud, they're not afraid to cheer, they're not afraid to applaud a good shot and encourage you when you're down. It's always nice coming back here.