An Interview With: DUSTIN JOHNSON
KELLY ELBIN: Playing in his second consecutive Ryder Cup, Dustin Johnson of the United States, joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.
Dustin, second Ryder Cup but first time on U.S. soil as a Ryder Cup team member. How did it feel today to be out there in front of the home fans.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: It was great. For me it's really cool to play on U.S. turf for the first time. The last two team events I played, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, were away, so I'm really excited about playing this year in Chicago.
The fans out there were fantastic, even it being a Tuesday. There was tons of fans out there, and they were screaming USA the whole time, so that gives you that it's just really nice to play in front of hometown fans.
KELLY ELBIN: What were your initial impressions of the golf course here at Medinah?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I thought the golf course was set up really nice. It's in really good shape. The greens are perfect.
I like the way they've got the rough cut down, which is nice. We're not hacking out of deep rough if you hit it in there. You've got a chance to advance it onto the green. I mean, it's good. It's right in front of you, the golf course.
There's nothing really tricky about it. There's a few holes where you've got some big runoffs on the sides, but other than that, the course is set up really nice. You're going to have to hit a lot of good shots, and all Ryder Cups come down to who makes the most putts.
Q. I was wondering, the 15th hole, how would you characterize it and how do you plan to kind of attack it this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: It kind of just depends on the wind. For me, unless it's into the wind, I'm probably going to hit a 3 wood. I'm just trying to get it on that just short of front edge or right on the front edge, and it all depends on where the flag is, too.
The flags on the left are pretty tough, especially if you're going for it, if you miss it left, they're hard to get at. It just all depends on how they set the hole up, whether they play it long or short or however they want to do it.
But I mean, I plan on being pretty aggressive on that one.
Q. I don't know if you were asked about Bob by, but can you give us an update? Do you expect him on the bag this week?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: As of right now, I don't think so. I think he's got he went and had an MRI yesterday. He's got a herniated disk in his back. I know he really wants to caddie, and I want him to caddie, too, but it's not worth it to caddie if he's hurt.
Q. Who would be your replacement?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Weber.
Q. Keegan Bradley was in here, and he said walking up on the first tee today was the proudest moment of his career, and it happened on a Tuesday at a Ryder Cup. He's won a major championship. Just wondering, what is it that's different about the feeling here, as opposed to playing in a major and how it compares?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, you know, every week we go out and we play tournaments. You're always playing for yourself and the people you represent, whether it's your club company or some sponsors. But ultimately you're playing for you.
And coming to a Ryder Cup, you're not just playing for yourself; you're playing for the whole country. You're playing for Team USA, you're playing for all the guys on your team, you're playing for all the fans. It's not all about you. It's a totally different feeling.
It's a good feeling. It's a lot of fun. But just the whole thing, everything about the Ryder Cup is different than like what we're used to and what we do. It's a lot of fun. We have a great time. That's our main focus is just have a good time, which we do.
You know, like walking out on the first tee today, it's totally different because we're going out as Team USA, not as Dustin Johnson.
Q. And with all that in mind, how do you keep your focus? How do you not let emotions get the best of you?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: We've still got to go play golf. That's what I'm good at, that's what I do is play golf. When I'm out there on the course, I'm still just playing golf.
You know, I get really nervous usually walking on the first tee, but after I get that first tee shot, no matter where it goes, I'll usually calm down after that one.
Q. The way the golf course has been set up, obviously Davis Love wants you guys to go out and do plenty of scoring. This was Graeme McDowell's theory this morning. You guys go out, do plenty of scoring, lift the crowd, basically attack the golf course. Is it possible in the Ryder Cup to actually go out and have fun like that and make a fun event of it, actually getting aggressive and enjoying yourself?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, nobody likes to go watch especially not in a team event like this, you don't want to go watch people hack it out of the rough and grinding for pars.
The fans want to see birdies and eagles. I think that's what it's all about is make it exciting, make it fun. You know, I think that's what we're trying to do is set the course up to where it's a lot of fun to play, where we're not out there grinding for pars on every hole.
Q. I was just going to say, it does make it more exciting for you, almost to the point where you might have a fun Ryder Cup really? For the players usually it's too tense to enjoy, isn't it?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, it's very intense, and that's what we're trying to do is make it fun, make it fun for everyone, have a good time.
That's what we want to do is get the crowd involved and just have a good time out there, which is when you're out having fun, that's when you play your best.
Q. You said earlier that it comes down to who makes the most putts. Do you think that's why Europe have dominated so much in the last eight or nine editions of this, purely because of putting, or do you think captaincy might have had a bit more to do with it?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I couldn't tell you what the reason is. I don't think there is just one specific reason. But yeah, ultimately if you look at any golf tournament or any event, whoever makes the most putts usually wins.
KELLY ELBIN: Could you give us a sense of what it was like in the team room last night, particularly for someone who's never been in a United States Team Room at home?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, it was the same as it was in Wales as far as being in the team room. We had a nice dinner and had a few chats and got the presentation of our gifts for being on the team and kind of congratulating everybody for making it.
It was a really beautiful dinner. We had a great time.
Q. What gifts did you get, and what games do you have in the team room, and who's best at which?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, we got presented a watch from Omega, and we got a nice little money clip, Ryder Cup money clip. Just a couple of things. And then we've got ping pong in there, and the best on our team would be Matt Kuchar.
Q. Where do you fall among the 12?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I'm right about the middle of the pack I would say. Kuch, I would say. Zach is pretty good. Phil is pretty good. Tiger is pretty good, too. I kind of fall right in that area. But you've got a few guys that are like Kuch is he's by far the best on our team.
Q. Do you have a tournament every night as far as playing ping pong?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: We play every night, yes.
Q. A lot has been made of the four rookies that are on the team. Can you talk about your first experience as a rookie on the Ryder Cup, the nerves, your hands shaking?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, teeing off on the first hole, yes, but it's going to be like that this time, too. It's no different whether I'm a rookie or not. I get nervous walking to the first tee every day.
It's not like a bad nervous; it's just you're kind of it gets your juices flowing. I don't know how to describe it. But yeah, I mean, I'll be a little shaky on the first hole for sure.
KELLY ELBIN: Dustin Johnson of the United States, thank you very much.
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