Greenbrier Classic interview: Johnson Wagner

July 04, 2013

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MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Johnson Wagner to the interview room after a very successful 8-under 62 round 1 in the Greenbrier Classic. Great playing, happy Fourth of July, all that other good stuff. That being said, just some comments on the round and then we'll open it up and take some questions.

JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, happy birthday, America, by the way. It's nice to shoot a good round on Independence Day. Had a nice start to the day, birdied 3, 4, 5, hit a great shot out of the trees on 7 to about three feet, birdied 9 for 29 and maybe my first competitive 29 on the PGA TOUR, which was cool. Then the 59 thought started creeping in, blocked it out for a few holes and birdied 11, chipped in for eagle on 12, and then the 59 thoughts really got in my mind. But I managed to hit really quality shots and quality putts coming in. I've been disappointed with 72s and 79s last month, so I'm very happy to be disappointed with a 62 today.

MODERATOR: With that being said, we'll open it up and take some questions.

Q. The mustache. With a good four days here, does it come back, does it stay away?

JOHNSON WAGNER: I mean, it will definitely come back at some point.I love irritating my wife too much with it to let it go for too long.We just celebrated our 7th anniversary on Monday and I didn't get her a gift, so I thought surprising her with a clean lip would suffice.

Q. Tommy Gainey also had a 8-under today. He saidhe thinks the scores can go even lower. Do you concur with the course conditions?

JOHNSON WAGNER: Obviously it's been a really wet spring here, we've had a lot of rain the last couple days. It's soft, it's very playable, we played ball in hand in the fairway today. Probably didn't have to, but with rain in the forecast it was a wise decision. Yeah, I think the scores can go pretty low. I think 62 will still be in the Top 10 by the end of the day. It may be leading, but yeah, who knows.

Q. Adjectives to describe your year to this point. I know it hasn't been exactly what you wanted with the cuts and the WD at the Memorial. Was that an injury by the way or what?

JOHNSON WAGNER: No, at Memorial we got blown off the course. I had three holes to go on Friday, was shooting a million, I thought we were going to come back the next morning and I needed some rest. I felt bad to withdraw from Mr. Nicklaus' tournament, but I just didn't want to come back out and sit out a 17 hour rain delay.

Q. The missed cuts, obviously your game's not been up to par?

JOHNSON WAGNER: No, it hasn't been. I've struggled with my ball striking all year, even my good finishes, which there were maybe two at Kapalua and Harbortown, which was the last cut I made, my ball striking's been terrible. After Hartford a couple weeks ago my coach watched me play Friday. We hadn't been working all that much together this year. He said come down -- he's at Westchester county at Old Oaks Country Club. He said, Come down and get it straight, that's where you always are when you struggle. We got into a position after three, four days where I kind of felt like I did leading into the Sony Open last year and Kapalua last year, where I played the best golf of my life. Confidence for me can turn around real quickly. Before I won my first tournament, the Shell Houston Open in 2008, I think I made $40,000 the first tournaments of the year. So my past performance really doesn't mean much to me unless it's good.

Q. Was there any particular part of your game that you needed to work on with him or --

JOHNSON WAGNER: It's all set up for me with driving the golf ball. I've been driving it short and crooked this year. My fairway percentage is way down, my driving distance is way down, and I've never been that long anyway to be good enough to miss fairways and coming into these greens with 5-irons. It's amazing, I think I gained 15 yards with my driver and I'm hitting it straighter. It's nice, it's nice to feel like I know what I'm doing again.

Q. One other question, you said confidence can turn around quickly. What have the last couple months been like mentally for you?

JOHNSON WAGNER: I mean, it's been tough, it's probably -- I love my job, I love playing the PGA TOUR, I love playing golf when I'm at home but the last couple months, I mean, have been really hard. I just haven't been much fun to be around and it's just been tough. Nobody likes to be bad at what they do, especially golfers.

Q. So who did you bring with you this week and wolld proximity and fan support and support from family have with anything to do with what happened today?

JOHNSON WAGNER: A little bit. My wife and kids are here. They haven't traveled to a tournament since my last cut made at Harbortown, maybe that's something there. And her parents are here with us, we have a nice cottage up here at the Greenbrier, such an incredible place. My parents and brother and his wife usually come, but they're all coming with me to the British Open, leaving next Thursday after the Open Championship. They gave this one a miss this year, but I've got a nicegroup with me this week.

Q. Quite a few Virginia Tech fans following you around out there as well. You mentioned your family being here. Any added pressure with that?

JOHNSON WAGNER: When I'm playing poorly and shooting high numbers, yes. When I'm playing well, I want everybody that I know to be out following me. I love putting on a good show for my family and friends.

Q. Johnson, just bringing up the putter situation, just out of curiosity, what's your feelings on the 2016 plan to ban anchoring?

JOHNSON WAGNER: I use a short putter, so I really -- it really benefits me, I guess. I really didn't care either way, but once the USGA made their decision I am really, really happy that the PGA TOUR is following the ban. I think if we had gone against it and three of the majors had been played with no belly putters and the PGA TOUR allows them, I think it would have been really confusing to the general public golf fan that -- the game's already confusing enough. So I think it was an incredible decision that the PGA TOUR made and I'm really pleased that we did it.

Q. Johnson, what was it about this golf course that got you going today?

JOHNSON WAGNER: Well, I've always loved Old White. I went to Virginia Tech and we would come over I think maybe two or three times when I was in school, we would come over and play. I'm a really big fan of Seth Raynor and CV Macdonald designed golf courses and this is just kind of my paradise playing a tournament on his course. Where I won at the Sony Open in Hawaii, it was also a Seth Raynor golf course, so I really enjoy playing classically designed golf courses.

Q. How does it feel with you and Brendon being at the top of the leaderboard former teammates at Virginia Tech?

JOHNSON WAGNER: It's great, for years I've wanted to be paired withhim Saturday and Sunday when it mattered. We've been close a couple times, but it would be cool for us to be fighting it out coming down the stretch. He's had an amazing last four or five years and he's certainly overdue for a win and I would love to take it away from him.