Commentary

On the Hot Seat: Zach Johnson

Originally Published: April 4, 2008
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

As you've no doubt heard him say on countless TV commercials during the past 12 months, Zach Johnson is "just a normal guy from Iowa." Sure, a normal guy with a green jacket in his closet.

Johnson tamed Tiger Woods -- as well as the rest of the 2007 Masters field -- by playing his brand of controlled, disciplined golf at Augusta National. So who better to let us in on a few deep, dark secrets to winning the game's most prestigious major? Zach Johnson, you're on the Hot Seat …

Zach Johnson
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaJohnson won the Masters by 2 strokes last year.

Q: What's the best thing about being the reigning Masters champion?
A: That's a hard question to answer because there are so many incredible things associated with winning the Masters. If I had to choose one, I suppose it would be the lifetime exemption to play in the tournament. That's pretty sweet!

Q: How about the worst thing? Is there one?
A: The demands on my time have increased exponentially by virtue of winning the Masters. As a result, I have to say no to many things that are certainly worthwhile and deserving of my time.

Q: At what point did you know the victory was yours? After the chip on 18? Or not until Tiger Woods hit his approach on that final hole?
A: I was in the locker room watching Tiger play the last hole. Before he hit his second shot, I looked at my agent, Brad Buffoni, and said something to the effect that nothing is impossible with Tiger. So when Tiger didn't hole that approach shot, I knew I had won the tournament. But I must admit, I felt fairly confident when I got up and down to par the 18th and post the number.

Q: Was there one specific moment, either during the final round or the postround celebration, that stands out as your favorite part of that day?
A: Again, so many unbelievable moments throughout the day, but the absolute best has to be coming off the 18th green and seeing my wife, Kim, and our son, Will, who had been rushed to the course from daycare by my mother-in-law using a police escort.

Q: What is it like in the Champions Locker Room?
A: Sorry, I can't tell you that. You are going to have to win the Masters and find out for yourself.

On the Hot Seat

Who else has appeared on ESPN.com's Hot Seat to discuss golf? Everyone from Tiger Woods to Annika Sorenstam. Click here to find the entire list.
Hot Seat guests

Q: Where do you keep the green jacket? Do you ever just wear it around the house?
A: The green jacket made a quick trip to New York the day after I won the tournament. Since then, it has been carefully placed safely inside my closet. I am allowed to keep the jacket for one year. When I return to Augusta National this April, I will bring back the jacket, where it will be stored with those of the other past champions.

Q: How often have you returned to play the course since last year?
A: Unfortunately, I have not had the time to return yet. But I plan to try and get there in the weeks preceding this year's tournament to get in some practice.

Q: Where does Augusta National rank among your favorite courses in the world?
A: No. 1, of course!

Q: Which green gives you the most trouble? Which specific pin placement?
A: Obviously, there are many. A front pin on No. 4 is extremely difficult to get to, and back right on No. 6 is a VERY intimidating location as well.

Q: Is there a lesser-known player out there whose game is suited to win the Masters -- the "Next Zach Johnson," so to speak?
A: In many respects, anyone who qualifies to participate in the Masters must have some kind of profile, so that is hard for me to answer. J.B. Holmes certainly has a game custom-built for Augusta National, though being his first Masters he will need to learn the greens quickly. Aaron Baddeley is another player that I would watch as well.

Q: Now that you're a Masters champ, you can reveal your secret to us. So what's the biggest key to winning at Augusta National?
A: The banana pudding they serve in the clubhouse and hitting it fewer times than everyone else. By the way, am I off the Hot Seat now?

Q: Yes, you are. And save some banana pudding for us.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.