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January 30, 2019

Dustin Johnson

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia

TOM BENBOW: Please welcome world No. 3 Dustin Johnson to the Saudi International Powered by SBIA.

Welcome, Dustin. It's a new tournament on The European Tour schedule. What are your first impressions of Royal Greens Golf Club?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think the golf course is great. I played I think seven holes on front yesterday, but it's in really good condition and beautiful golf course, and definitely looking forward to playing it today, playing all 18.

TOM BENBOW: There's four of the world's top five here this week. What is it about coming and playing on The European Tour that gets you motivated?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I made a commitment to come here, and I think it was last year in Abu Dhabi speaking with the guys who are making this golf tournament happen, and you know, to be in an historic event and being the first year, to have such a great field, it's pretty incredible what they have done and the way they have put this tournament on.

TOM BENBOW: So everyone talks about this win streak you're on. You've won every year for 11 seasons. Six of those seasons you've won before March. What's the secret to your off-season planning and getting ready for tournaments this early in the year?

DUSTIN JOHNSON: I think the off-season, for one, it's important to take time off. We have a long year and play a lot of golf, so I feel like I've got kind of a good plan.

I train pretty hard in the off-season, but don't do a whole lot of practicing just so I'm fresh and ready to start the year and I'm focused and kind of stay fresh throughout the year.

But I've really just got to get with my team and kind of figure out what I need to work on and what I can improve on and just try to improve -- improve on every aspect of the game but most importantly, definitely improve on the weaknesses.

Q. This is shaping up to be an exciting year in terms of the battle for the No. 1 spot. How much of a motivation is that, and obviously Justin, Brooks, yourself and Bryson getting in the mix as well. Good for golf?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, it's definitely good for golf. I think it's always been a battle, if you look especially the last six years or seven years or however long it's been, I'm not real sure but I think it's kind of been a battle to be at the top for a while now.

Especially once Tiger stopped being No. 1 for so long, it's kind of a battle since. But you know, there's so many great players and especially if you look at the Top 15 guys in the world, or, you know, you've got to bring your game every single week if you want to stay at No. 1. At any point, the guys that can win pass you.

It's very important to come prepared every week, no matter where you're playing, what tournament it is, and compete. It's definitely going to be a good year, and you know, I'm definitely looking to challenge Rosey for the top spot.

Q. Think it's safe to say that when you stand over the golf ball compared to Bryson, there will be different thoughts going through your head. Can you imagine yourself playing golf like he does?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No. (Laughter) Not a chance.

But the way he approaches the game, it's definitely different. It works for him. That wouldn't work for me. Obviously, we all kind of go through processes to figure out what -- what works for you, and yeah, it definitely wouldn't work for me.

Q. Never thought about air density?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No. I really don't even know what that is (laughter) or how it would affect the golf ball.

Q. Justin a few minutes ago was talking about the mental factor about going one year to the next and how he tries to think of it as a day at a time rather than the new year. How do you get over the hurdle of wondering if you're going to have a good year?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, I mean, for our schedule now, it's really, there is no one year to the next. I mean, it's just more of dates. We play all year. We get maybe a little bit of a break in the fall but we're still playing.

I mean, for me and with my schedule, I don't really ever have more than, you know, four or five weeks off.

So it's not -- you know, it's not like I finished the season and I've got four months off and then it would really feel like it was starting a new year. We play all year long, so you have to stay prepared all the time.

Yeah, for me, it's just preparing for each week, so I don't really think about it as a new year. I just think about it as another golf tournament.

Q. Guys like Bryson, Patrick Reed, they have all joined The European Tour. This is your second start this year. You'd only have to play a few more to take up full membership. Have you considered that and is winning The Race to Dubai something you would like to do in your career?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I mean, I've definitely thought about it. I don't know, I'd have to do a little more looking into the schedule, if it would actually work for me, but yeah, something I've thought about.

Q. Winning The Race to Dubai?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I'd love to win The Race to Dubai. It's a nice paycheck.

Q. Until a few years ago, not many Americans travelled, especially to the Middle East or to Asia, but now with the season in segments, the start of the year in the Middle East, and ending the year in the Far East, what is it that's changed and what is it that motivates players like yourself and some of the other leading stars to do that?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, I mean, I think as you can see, I think The European Tour is getting stronger and having better events, and you know, we play a lot in America, but we've got to, you know, I think it's important to grow the game globally and for us to do that, we've got to travel.

I try to at least play a few events a year, you know, overseas, and especially if it can fit in the schedule. So that's what I've tried to do. I think I've done that the last few years. I enjoy playing in other parts of the world.

Q. Is there also the motivation of getting more World Ranking points to get yourself close to the top or at the top towards the end of the year?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, I think if you look at the events, it doesn't really matter where you play. You get good World Ranking points. You know, whether it's on the PGA TOUR or playing on The European Tour. If you -- that's what it's all about is winning.

Q. When you say you're working on your weaknesses, what might they be?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Weaknesses, areas I can improve. But I mean, every golfer, you can ask Justin who is playing incredible golf, there's a part of his game that he's going to feel like it's week.

Maybe you think it is, maybe not, but it's something that it's more of areas of your game that you can improve on and that there's a lot of room for improvement.

For me, I feel like that's every part of the game but it's -- you know, for me, like one thing that I would say was a weakness was wedge play. But I've put a lot of time in over the last few years and I've really improved my wedges.

You know, I could definitely hit more fairways and hit it closer to the flag and make more putts. No one's -- no golfer is too good at any part of the game.

Q. I think one of the things that we've seen with Bryson is he tries to break it down into the technical elements but really golf is about feel, surely, and you can fall into that abyss between getting too technical --
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely. I try to stay away from the technical part, unless there's something that I need. You know, if I'm on the range or working with my coach and it's something that, you know, we need to get technical on, just to try to fix something.

But other than that, when I'm on the golf course, there's nothing technical going, or if there is something technical going on in my thought process, then I'm struggling. If I'm playing well, there's never anything. I'm just thinking about the shot I'm hitting and where I want it to go.

Q. How are you feeling about the first golf tournament here in the Kingdom and maybe in the future, it will be a popular sport as soccer?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, obviously this is a great event, the first year they are having it. So I'm definitely honored to be a part of it, and you know, definitely they are trying to grow the game here and they are going to do -- I think they are going to do a lot of great things for the game of golf.

TOM BENBOW: Thanks very much for joining us, Dustin, good luck this week.

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