Interview transcript: Dustin Johnson

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December 10, 2013

KELLY BARNES:  Just want to welcome everyone to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions teleconference.  We have defending champion Dustin Johnson on the line and vice president of marketing for Hyundai Motors America, Steve Shannon.
I'm going to turn it over to Steve now for a couple remarks.

STEVE SHANNON:  Thank you.  Let me start out by thanking everybody for joining us on the call today.  Sunny day here in Southern California.
We are really excited to be back here in about a month or so for what will be our fourth year with this very special Hyundai Tournament of Champions tournament, the unique aspect being that all of the players are champions from the previous year.
On a broader basis, Hyundai's involvement in sports, it goes everywhere from the most global of platforms like the upcoming FIFA World Cup, big college football here in the U.S., but we love the golf space, and in particular for our luxury products like Genesis and Equus.
The deep commitment this tournament has had over time to charitable organizations in Hawaii is terrific.  The fact that the last couple years we've been able to add to that with our Hope on Wheels, which is our pediatric cancer tournament and event, so we do a 5K there, we make our own donation to a medical center.  We're really happy to participate in that.
The last thing I'll mention, among the vehicles we'll have in Maui this year at Kapalua will be a Hyundai Fuel Cell, a Tucson Fuel Cell, some of you may have seen.  We made a big announcement at the L.A. Auto Show where we'll be the first manufacturer to offer for retail lease beginning in March a Fuel Cell.
It's a Tucson.  It really is in every sense of the word a next‑generation electric car, all the benefits of electric with zero emissions.  300‑mile range and fills in five minutes.  If you live in Orange County or L.A. County, it really is a significant move by us to make this the next wave of vehicles.
I'll turn it back to Kelly.

KELLY BARNES:  Now we can move on to Dustin.
Dustin, with this being the only champions‑only tournament of the year, what did it mean kicking off last year with a tournament of this stature?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  It's great.  It obviously gets the year off to a really good start.  To win with a really strong field, it means a lot.  I think Hyundai does a great job with their event.
I love coming over to Hawaii and playing in the golf tournament.

KELLY BARNES:  Last year it was a unique event, a lot of challenges that week.  What do you remember from that week, the thrill of winning and the craziness with the wind and whatnot?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  Obviously it was unfortunate we didn't get to start till late.  Yeah, it was definitely probably some of the windiest conditions I've played in.
But it still turned out to be a great week.  The event was shortened a little bit, but for some reason I like those events.
One of the best memories was riding out to the 18th green in the car.

KELLY BARNES:  Once again you kicked off your 2014 season with a win.  You seem to be making a habit of this.  How much effect does that have now with a win under your belt going into the Hyundai?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  It's great.  Especially to get off to a good start I think is very important.  It's a long year.  But to get the confidence early, to get a win this early in the season, it means a lot

KELLY BARNES:  We'll open it up to questions.

Q.  Dustin, I'm wondering, how do you feel like the Plantation Course fits your game?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  I think the Plantation Course fits my game really good.  I can hit driver pretty much on every hole except for the par 3s.  It's generous off the tee on some holes.  On some holes it's narrow and you have to hit good drives.
I think it's fun.  You make a lot of birdies.  I think it's just a good course.  It's a fun course to play.

Q.  Does it matter at all to you guys that this tournament is no longer the 'season opener'?  Does that have any effect at all?  And does this tournament fit well where it is, in January like this, having the calendar year champions coming here?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  Yeah, I mean, we still kind of consider it the first event of the new year.  I know with the new schedule it's not.  It fits in the schedule, especially having two events over there.  Guys either come over and play both of them, or a lot of guys travel over to just play the Sony.
I will always play it.  I like going to Hawaii.  It's a great place to visit.  There is the ocean, all kinds of things to do.  It's a lot of fun.  It's almost like a vacation, too, and you just play a little golf.

Q.  What do you do outside of the course when you're there for the Hyundai?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  You know, go to the beach, hang out.  We jump off the cliffs.  There's a few cliffs or rocks, which is fun.  We do some fishing there.
I don't surf in Maui, but I try to surf if I'm over on Oahu.  Maybe I'll try surfing this year, I don't know.

Q.  Dustin, following up on the surf question.  Do you remember when Ogilvy got hurt, maybe wasn't surfing, but he was in the ocean?  Does that concern you at all?  And is this tournament a little bit more special than a normal TOUR stop?  Does it rank a little bit above a regular TOUR stop?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  Yeah, I definitely think so.  It's a special tournament because it's only winners that get in.  You have to have won an event to get into it, so I think that makes it special.
Being in Hawaii I think makes it special, as well.  It's a special place to go.  From the first time I went, I've really just enjoyed it, loved it.
The surfing, yeah, that concerns me because I'm not very good.  I eat it a lot.  I don't surf on the reefs.  I like to surf where it's a sand bottom.

Q.  What is it about the Plantation Course that you like the most?  I know you said it suits your game.  What is it that stands out for you there?

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  It's a fun course to play.  You can reach the par 5s.  There's a drivable par 4, a couple of them.  I think it's just a lot of fun to play.  It's a pretty course, too.  You have great views.  It's always in good shape.
It's just a fun course to play.

KELLY BARNES:  Thank you, everybody.

DUSTIN JOHNSON:  Thank you.  See you in Hawaii.