BMW Championship interview: Zach Johnson

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September 16, 2013

MORE INTERVIEWS: BMW transcripts archive

DOUG MILNE:  We'd like to welcome the 2013 BMW Championship winner, Zach Johnson.  Zach, congratulations on the victory.  6 under 65 today gets the job done, moves you to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings heading into East Lake and the TOUR Championship by Coca Cola next week.
   
ZACH JOHNSON: 
Thank you.  Honored to be the 2013 BMW champion.  You know, I felt great about the day.  I felt great about the week.  I remember I was talking to my coaches, specifically Dr. Mo and Mike Bender, about coming into this week even though my game felt great, I mean, I was just barely in on the number as far as getting into Atlanta.
Rather than worrying about that, I think our game plan was great mentally as far as just staying fresh and just playing this week for this week, each day for each day.  That's probably what I'm most proud of as far as this week and what I've done, because I wanted to get into Atlanta and I didn't want two weeks off before the Presidents Cup, and that may sound ridiculous, but I didn't want to have two weeks off before a big competition like that.
You know, I got asked the question, does this validate what I've done over the last three months.  I don't think so.  It just means I'm playing well and I made more putts this week.  That's really what it boils down to.  If anything it validates the fact that I've got a tremendous team of guys and specifically my family that I trust and who trusts me, and we're doing the right things.
A great week, a phenomenal day, one of the best final rounds I probably have come up with in a while, especially coming down the stretch.

Q.  I wonder if you could just talk big picture on these Playoffs.  You miss one for a wedding, you make a 25 footer to get on the Presidents Cup team, and then you shoot 65 to not only win for the first time this year, but talk about that in the big picture.
   
ZACH JOHNSON: 
Big picture, it's been a nice three weeks, yeah.  I guess it's big.  I mean, you're not going to miss your brother's wedding, especially when you're the best man, and I had zero intentions of missing that wedding, especially if I'm going to get along with my new sister in law.
But I planned for that.  I scheduled accordingly.  I played the Wyndham, which is a tremendous event, kind of an awkward date but a tremendous event.  And then going into Boston, even though I had a week off, I felt good about it.  I had one bad round in Boston.  Technically a bad four hole stretch that just took me out of it.
You know, when it comes to that putt on 9, my last hole at Boston, you know, I had zero indication as to what it meant.  I was just playing.  I think that's what I've got to keep doing.  I did that this week.  I just kept playing, kept playing, especially after trying yesterday    I never got up out of a chair.  I ate 15 times in dining yesterday.  The whole day was trying.
You know, I can't    it's hard to grasp the last two weeks of golf because I was trying to make that Presidents Cup team without trying to make it.  I was trying to get in the top 30 this week without trying to make it.  Somehow I've got to sit down with my team and write down some things because clearly my mind was fresh and I had good focus out there.  So I've got to keep that in the memory bank and certainly relish it, but more than that, I've got to remember it and try to utilize some of the things I've learned over the last three weeks, you know, not trying too hard in certain instances when you're trying to make certain things.  That's hard to do.
I've failed at it many times.  But I mean, if there's any pride it's the fact that I was able to get the job done on those two occasions.

Q.  Are you going to try not to win the $10 million next week?
   
ZACH JOHNSON: 
There's one another in there, too.  Dangit.  I forgot about that one.  No, I'm not going to try to win that $10 million.  I'm going to try to play good rounds of golf Thursday through Sunday.  I was talking to Sneds a little bit about it, when he won it last year, he won the TOUR Championship and he had solid weeks leading up to it.  It's not like you have to win every week to win that FedExCup, you've just got to win at the right times or play well at the right times, and I like the momentum I have for next week.

Q.  You rode a hot putter today.  Can you talk about how that felt in your hands?
   
ZACH JOHNSON: 
Yeah.  I didn't get any shots yesterday.  I didn't get any putts.  I was going to, and I was thinking, you know what, I might as well get out there just in case we don't play when the range was open, but it just never seemed to stop, so I did not get out there.  I was watching football.
I putted pretty well the first three days.  I mean, I'm not going to slight that by any means.  Boston I putted okay, and then coming into today, Damon saw one little thing with my ball position, but I tried not to dwell on it, I just kind of worked on it before I played today and started hitting putts solid, and then today was just a matter of trusting my reads and my routine, and I made a lot of putts today.  You can say you missed some, but today was a day where it didn't even out    most days it does even out.  Today it did not even out.  I made my share.

Q.  How much value did you get out of playing here the day before your brother's wedding, and how much of it was hit and giggle, and how much was a practice round preview?
   
ZACH JOHNSON:
  Well, we had a game.  It was me versus them, but I played pretty well, so it didn't end up being much of a game.
Yeah, it was    someone else asked me that question earlier.  Really it was just getting my feet on the ground here and getting used to the grounds, getting used to the shots, getting used to the tee boxes, sight lines, target lines, things like that.  Granted, it was just one day, different conditions even than what we saw the last four or five days, but I just got familiar with it.  I'm kind of a guy when I play my practice rounds, especially on a course that I haven't seen in a while, my practice rounds    how I really strike the golf ball, I don't want to say it's irrelevant, but it's not that important.
I'm really plotting myself around on where to hit it, where to miss it, where not to hit it, I'm putting stuff down in my yardage book and that sort of thing.  I didn't have the yardage book that I would have liked to have had that day, the one that we use for the tournament, but I was able to put something in my mind on certain holes, like this is    you've got to miss it here, you can't go there, you've got to stay below here, that kind of thing.
I'm assuming it helped.  There were certain pins, you've got to be aggressive to this one, you've got to lay off on this one.  Some of it was just condition based, but I felt very, very comfortable on tee shots, I felt very, very comfortable on approach shots, and obviously I felt very, very comfortable on the putting greens.  That day, I don't know if I can place a value on it, but without question it was valuable.

Q.  I noticed on 17 you made the birdie and Snedeker gave you a little fist pump.  Did it help to have him playing with you today?
   
ZACH JOHNSON:
  Did it help?  I don't know if it helped.  I mean, Sneds and I are good buddies.  We're essentially    he's a little younger than I am, that's for sure, but we've kind of come up together, and we've got a relationship.  I live there, at Sea Island and St. Simons Island.  Our wives are friends.  We've got a lot of things in common.  He's a guy that I love playing with, he and his caddie Scotty.
I was happy to get the pairing just because I love playing with Sneds.  It was a nice gesture on his part, but if I'm in that position, and I have been many times with other guys, I can see where it comes from.  I mean, he's still trying to compete and fight, and rightfully so.  I'm trying to get out of the way when he's playing.  I would have done the same thing.  I think that's what friends do.  You want to fight, you want to compete, but yet there's a time where you've got to acknowledge, and Sneds is graceful.  He's as classy as they come.

Q.  The newest member of the 10 win club, to do it with your style and your game in this era of the bomb and gouge, what does that kind of mean to you?
   
ZACH JOHNSON: 
I mean, I don't know any other style.  If you want to come up with one.  I mean, I've played the same game for years.  It hasn't changed.  Certain courses are very difficult for me to win.  Certain conditions make it very difficult for me to win, where I've got to be extremely on, I feel like.
I don't think this golf course is one where it favors the long hitters like you were mentioning, which is nice.  Boston is a week that    I mean, I can play well there.  I have had some decent success there.  I don't know if I've ever had a top 10 finish, but I've got to be really on to climb that board, I think, really, really on, just because there's certainty shots there that if you have that 290 carry it's a huge advantage in my opinion.
Saying that, we've seen guys that are modest like myself win at big golf courses.  You know, it's not like it can't be done.
10 wins is    I don't even    I'm not so sure I even understand what that is and what that means, especially considering whose era I'm playing in, with Tiger and obviously Phil and some of those guys.  I'm not wanting to be a prideful guy, but I certainly take pride in the fact that I've done what I've done.  But I've done what I've done because of work and a great team.  I'm a product of other people that have helped me throughout my career.  Every year it seems like when we meet, we have at least one big meeting at the end of the year, and every year, nearly every year, I'm like, I just want 10 more yards or 15 more yards, and it hasn't happened.  Maybe mini steps, but Titleist has helped me in this regard, too.  But it's just hard.  I'm not a big guy, and as a result I don't generate the speed that these guys do.  So I've got to stick to what works.
What I have learned is I drove it terrible at the beginning of this year, terrible, for me.  My percentages were way, way down.  Once I got the right driver configuration, which hit me at about TPC this year, that's made a massive change in how I've performed.

Q.  When you talked to us on the range last Wednesday, you said that when you played here in college, the NCAAs, it was one of the best courses you ever played in your life to that point, and you talked about what a great golf course it was even before you put a shot in play on Thursday was there a good level of comfort for you playing here?
   
ZACH JOHNSON: 
Yeah, I think there was.  This is a Tom Fazio course.  I'm a member at a Tom Fazio course where I live now in St. Simons at Frederica, and I played one growing up in college in Des Moines.
When we came here in 1997 for the NCAAs, I thought this thing was    and it still is obviously very good.  We're hosting a FedExCup Playoff championship and the BMW at it, so I thought at the time, like this is    what's Augusta like if this is    this place is amazing.  I thought it was the best facility I'd ever witnessed at that point.  I didn't play any big amateur events, just never had the opportunity to play in a U.S. Amateur and that sort of thing, so I was kind of a deer in headlights when I first came here, and I shot 81 the first day, shot 69 the second day.  I kind of got used to it.
But yeah, I fell in love with it back then, and I've had a couple of my college buddies text me, what's it like, what's it look like now, and that sort of thing.  It's still really good, obviously.

Q.  I don't know if you touched on this, but golf is a tough game.  Jim Furyk is a good friend of yours, I hear.  He shoots a 59 and doesn't win.  How do you feel for him?
   
ZACH JOHNSON:
  I mean, you said it.  He's one of my friends.  I mean, you can't help but feel for him.  It's kind of like when I made that putt on Webb.  I didn't know what it meant.  Fortunately he still managed to make the Presidents Cup team.  Webb is a good buddy.
You want to see yourself work hard and succeed, but you also want to see your friends do the same.  You know, we can't slight Jim's week.  Obviously I had a good day today.  But I mean, Jim had a remarkable week, and he's kind of the guy    I've said this many times, and forgive me if I'm echoing it too much, but he's kind of a guy that I model my game after.  He doesn't overpower golf courses.  He's one of the steadiest players we've seen in the last 15 years, and as a result his resume is as deep as it is.
If there's anybody that, like I said, I try to model what I'm trying to do off of, it would be Jim Furyk.  Obviously our golf swings are different, but that's the beauty of this game.
He's as good as they come.  He's a model professional, and it's going to be strange not having him on the team.  But if I can be blunt, because he's kind of always been our player captain, when things need to be said or times when we've got to gather our thoughts, he's usually the one to speak up, and he does it in a very professional, grateful way.  But he's a pro.  He's a man.  I'm sure he'll get over it.  Knowing Jim, it'll probably fire him up for next year.  I just hope I'm playing at a high level when he becomes captain at one of these Cup events because he's going to be as good as the team has ever seen.

Q.  What are your thoughts about moving inside the top 5 going into East Lake?  Obviously you've had your share of success in Georgia.
   
ZACH JOHNSON: 
Well, I think you said it.  I didn't know I climbed in the top 5 until I got done.  I didn't know what it meant.  I mean, I know what it does now.  It's just that.  I mean, I've got a great opportunity.  That's the way I look at it.
This week provided me a great opportunity for next week.  I was talking to some guys, I was talking to Dustin and a couple other guys, you have so many criteria on TOUR now with the FedExCup, it adds so much more to our product, and in such a good way.  The hard part for us is you're trying to make the top 70, you're trying to make the top 30, and yes, you are in control of your golf ball.  That part you can control.  But you're not in control of other guys and their points and where everybody is shuffling, meaning you can play really good, like really, really good and not make it, whether it's the TOUR Championship or what have you.  You can play very average and you can sneak in.  It's a very difficult phenomenon.
The beauty of what I have now because of this week is I do control my destiny next week.  If I play really, really good, I can win it.  But I need some help.  There's a lot of things that need to go my way.
I think I've been in this position one other time, maybe twice.  I can't recall.  I know I've been in the top 5 once or twice coming into Atlanta.  But all it is is a great opportunity, and that's what I love about this game.
   
DOUG MILNE:  Zach, congratulations.

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