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A Quick 9: Zach Johnson

Iowa native Zach Johnson discusses the importance of fitness on TOUR, motivation, and his beloved Hawkeyes.

Zach Johnson

Zach Johnson earned his PGA TOUR card after winning twice and being named the Nationwide Tour Player of the Year in 2003. He made an immediate impact when he captured the BellSouth Classic for his first PGA TOUR title in just his 13th career start. Zach continued to play well the entire year and became just the second player in PGA TOUR history to surpass $2 million in earnings in his rookie season. We caught up with the Iowa native and full-line Titleist staff player recently in Boston.

1. Fitness sems to have become more prevalent than ever on the PGA TOUR. What is your take on it?
You definitely see a lot of guys with trainers and the TOUR also provides trainers in the fitness trailer at every tournament. I like the personal attention of having my own trainer who travels with me about 30 weeks a year, it works best for me. Also, players and companies like Titleist are gaining a better understanding of how important fitness is, especially since the USGA has begun regulating technology. The performance side really stands out now. It's important to have my trainer understand that. Longevity and injury prevention are two key things for me.

2. You mentioned you have visited the Titleist Performance Institute. What did you learn about yourself and your game when you were there?
I went with my personal trainer and golf instructor so we were all able to work together. We worked on both the fitness side and the technical aspect. The technology at TPI is state-of-the-art and I don't think there's anything anywhere even remotely close to it. We were able to determine how deficiencies in my golf swing were directly related to deficiencies in my body. It was very advantageous for all of us to see that together.

3. When you workout, are you targeting any specific areas to help your game?
Mostly flexibility and strength in my core muscles - especially my lower back - to help me maintain good posture throughout my swing. I like to warm-up my lower body before a round, focusing on my legs. It's a long grind out there and some of the courses we play are pretty long. If I can get my lower body warmed up, I feel like I'm in pretty good shape. Specifically, I do a lot of lunges and squats because it's important for me to maintain my balance. I'm not too physically gifted, so I've tried to increase my flexibility first and foremost and then build muscle for stability. I'm also working on putting the right stuff in my body by focusing on nutrition the last two years. I try to eat nutritional bars out on the course as much as possible, and I'm drinking a supplement called Amino Vital.

4. What drives you to stay motivated during the grind of the TOUR season?
Competition in general drives me. I don't care what it is - whether it's ping-pong or racing someone back from the grocery store, I want to win. Being in the heat of the moment, being in competition, is what drives me. I'm very self-motivated, very driven. I don't like screwing up, nobody does, but I actually like bouncing back from bad moments and/or bad shots; that also drives me.

5. What do you like to do on an off-day?
My wife travels with me which is great. We'll go see a movie or go site-seeing in whatever city we're in. We also like to work out on off days.

6. What other sports did you playing growing up in Iowa?
I played a lot of basketball, soccer, tennis and football when I was young. I really enjoy the team sports but the individuality of golf appealed to me early on. It's just you against the course.

7. We know you're a huge Iowa Hawkeyes fan. How do you think the football team will do this year? And what are your favorite professional teams?
The Big Ten is fairly deep. It's arguably the deepest conference this year. Iowa has a difficult schedule, but I really like the roster and really like the coaching staff this year. I expect them to have a good season. In terms of professional teams, I have to say the Broncos. I was a huge John Elway fan growing up. I liked the Chicago Bulls, especially in the Jordan era, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Magic now that I live in Orlando.

8. You play several in several pro-ams throughout the year, what would you consider to be the most common swing fault for amateurs?
Most amateurs try to kill the ball, rather than letting the club do the work, and that stems from tempo. It's hard to change fundamentals in an amateur very quickly, so you try and get them to slow down first. Then they start to hit the ball more solidly and eventually start hitting it further. So it's a matter of slowing down, maintaining that good tempo and letting the club do the work.

9. You carry 13 Titleist golf clubs in your bag, which is your favorite?
My driver (905 series). I've always liked the way Titleist drivers look. They're classic looking, almost like an old persimmon, but they're titanium. This new one has the same great same Titleist look, very simple.

A QUICKER NINE...

Favorite TOUR stop: John Deere (near home), and the Masters
Favorite city: Denver
Favorite band: Dave Matthews Band
Favorite restaurant (where is it?): The Manhattan Deli in Des Moines
Favorite TV show: SportsCenter, ESPN's College GameDay, That 70's Show (Ashton Kutcher's from my hometown of Cedar Rapids)
Favorite all-time movies: Braveheart, Hoosiers
Favorite actress/actor: Tom Hanks
Best moment on the golf course: My first TOUR win at the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta
If you could play a round of golf with three other people, who would they be (living or deceased)?: Jesus, Payne Stewart and Michael Jordan

 

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