Zach Johnson on the secret to his consistency, and the heartbreaking loss that keeps him up at night
Some observers predicted that you'd be a one-hit wonder when you won the Masters in 2007. Do you feel vindicated having won seven times since then?
I don't think there's any feeling of vindication. I just think it's given me more confidence and the mental fortitude that I can do this any given week. The Masters, for me, was a stepping stone to the last five years. Certainly, I'm still learning from that experience.
Is Augusta your best chance to win another major?
I wouldn't think so. I think that was kind of an anomaly that year. That was one of the highest total scores [1-over] that tournament has seen, because of the conditions. It was really, really, cold, it was playing really long, and it was really firm and windy. But looking at the major schedule now, a lot of people say Merion is pretty good for me because it's not overly long and it's pretty strategic.
Let's talk about the 2012 Ryder Cup. You finished with a 3-1 record, but the team still lost. Does it ease the sting knowing that you pulled your weight?
No, not really. I'm just getting sick of losing. There are two things that still sit with me: one, [our captain] was Davis [Love III], who is one of my good buddies. He led us and we didn't win for him. And two, the fact that we won three of the five sessions and tied one of them but still lost. Those kinds of things don't help me sleep at night. But in this game, you have to be resilient. You get over it and you keep going. I don't know if I'm completely over it. I don't know if I ever will be, either.
What's the secret to succeeding on Tour as a short hitter?
I don't think there's any secret. I just think it essentially illustrates that driving distance is not imperative, or that significant of a stat. My team and I have hired a statistician and we've really crunched on stats, and it's not the most important stat, by far. Getting the ball in the fairway is much more important than hitting it 320 yards, so I continue to work on my accuracy and my wedges and my putting and around the greens.
You've had two two-win seasons since 2007, and you missed only one cut in 2012. Does that consistency come from that intense analysis?
Consistency is certainly what I pride myself on. Unfortunately, the World Ranking and a lot of the number stats don't necessarily take that into account. Certainly the media doesn't take that into account. But, yeah, making 24 out of 25 cuts — and barely missing the one I missed — I pride myself on that. Every aspect of my game isn't phenomenal, but every aspect of my game isn't poor, either.
Are you for or against the proposed ban on anchoring putters?
I think the reasons to keep it legal far outweigh the ones to make it illegal. I think the game is so far into it, and the trickle-down effect in pro shops, to amateurs, and to who knows who, is too deep. If it's that big of an advantage, then we'd all be doing it, and we're not.
As a Masters champion with nine career wins, you still fly under the radar a bit. Does that bug you?
I don't know if I like it or dislike it, that's just the way it is. I haven't experienced being on the radar as much as some of the other guys, but maybe it's my style of play, because I play pretty boring golf. Maybe it's my demeanor. I think a lot of it, frankly, is how the media portrays me. You know, I am who I am, and I'm not going to fake it. I'm not upset with it, by any means. I don't really like being in the limelight anyway. I like to go play golf.