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July 12, 2018

Johnson Wagner

Silvis, Illinois

Q. Johnson, great first round. I'm going to guess ball striking was a big part of it today.
JOHNSON WAGNER: Ball striking was it good, but I really putted really. Been kind of struggling the last couple weeks. Hitting the ball really nice, but not putting very well.

I made a lot of putts starting on the 1st hole, or No. 10, and made another one on 12 and they just kept going in all day.

Couple sloppy bogeys, but really, really happy.

Q. You made birdies at 7 and 8, too. A 5-footer at 7; 10-footer on 8. Those really bolstered you coming in, too, didn't they?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Definitely. I made a bogey with a wedge on 6. Hit a really nice shot. Just caught a gust and air mailed the green. Made a sloppy bogey there, but then coming back hard with two birdies was nice.

Gosh, the scores are low today, but the wind picked up. It's just kind of soft and gettable.

Q. Yeah, rough was not easy. That shot you had on 9, even though it was close, it was kind of delicate, wasn't it?
JOHNSON WAGNER: It was delicate. I was pretty happy with that one. That one can get a way and get down the hill and have 10, 15 feet. I was happy to lave it in that nice management position.

If you put it in play out here the greens are soft enough, you can be very aggressive. But if you find yourself out of position, there are bogeys lurking everywhere.

Q. Nine birdies, couple bogeys. Still a great score today.
JOHNSON WAGNER: It was awesome. I started with a nice 10-footer on 10 and about a 20-footer on 12. Just the ball was going in the hole. I struggled for a little bit the last couple weeks with just making putts. Not hitting bad putts, just not going in the hole.

Today after some work this week early I got on to a new little feel. The balls were rolling in the hole yesterday in the Pro-Am, and they were going in the hole today.

It was a great feeling, and hopefully one that I can carry going forward for a while.

Q. You've historically played this course well. What about it sets up well for you?
JOHNSON WAGNER: I like it off the tee. I can reach two of the par-5s. I just feel like it doesn't play into the -- obviously if you're a long player it helps, but I'm not overly long.

I feel like I have a lot wedge opportunities. I like it off the tee. I putt well here. I love the people. I mean, just everything about it.

Q. You mentioned the putting. We checked the stats. You're one in strokes gained...
JOHNSON WAGNER: Doesn't surprise me.

Q. What does that mean to know that obviously that work has helped?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Yeah, it was great. Just balls have just been burning edges and not starting where I wanted. Today, from the 1st hole on, the pace was great. They were going in the center of the hole. Even a couple bad putts found the edge and went in.

It was just kind of one the those days where I couldn't miss really.

Q. Going off that, you had four I think back-to-back birdies in this round. Was it just carrying over momentum? What played into that?
JOHNSON WAGNER: Yeah, well, I've been swinging the club really nice for good a month now. Like I said, the putts weren't dropping. So I have been having ample opportunities.

Once you see a couple putts go in it's just easier and easier. Kind of the door is open. I felt comfortable. My grip pressure was lighter. Just really loose and comfortable today.

Plus, playing and Ryan Blaum and Parker McLachlin were making putts, too. So I wanted to stay ahead of them and try to get on top of them with birdies when I could.

So we had a great vibe out there today.

Q. What do you feel like you have to do to carry this into tomorrow, make the cut, set yourself up well for the weekend?
JOHNSON WAGNER: You know, I'm going to go eat lunch and get back, go work on the putting stroke and make sure I know what I'm doing still and have a nice afternoon. I don't tee off until late tomorrow. I am going to take a nice break from the heat in my hotel room, go eat a good dinner, and just kind of hang out.

Q. Do you have numbers in mind when you start?
JOHNSON WAGNER: No. Traditionally this golf course, the winning score is pretty low. You know, I'm not expecting to make nine birdies every day, but I know I need to go out and play aggressively each day.

I've been in the hunt here a couple times and you can't get comfortable. You can't get to 17, 18 under and think that's enough.

You got to keep going and keep making birdies.

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