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Zach Johnson eager for return to action

Masters champion Zach Johnson is ready to get back inside the ropes at a golf tournament after two weeks of celebrity treatment, incessant media requests and time with his young family.

The 31-year-old American, who defied all the odds by holding off a late challenge from Tiger Woods to win last month's Masters, is competing in this week's Wachovia Championship.

"The last two weeks were much needed and now I'm ready to start playing," Johnson told reporters at Quail Hollow Club on Tuesday.

"My game is probably not quite where it wants to be, but I'm ready to start competing again."

The Iowa native has not played on the PGA Tour since finishing sixth at the Heritage Classic the week after his surprise victory at Augusta National.

However, he believes his run of form over that fortnight will underpin his entire year.

"I played well those two weeks, and even the week prior to that," Johnson said, referring to his tie for ninth in the WGC-CA Championship at Doral in his last tournament before the Masters.

"That confidence right there, hopefully, will bring momentum. In this game momentum is huge, especially on this Tour. I think those two weeks will certainly help me throughout the year."

Johnson, who has climbed to a career-high 15th in the world rankings following his major breakthrough, has barely rested over the last two weeks.

His media commitments have included an interview with television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and he has also helped his wife Kim look after their 16-week-old baby boy, Will.

"I've taken the last two weeks off from golf but I really haven't taken much time off," Johnson said. "Sleep has been fairly non-existent, especially with a 16-week-old baby.

"Any chaos or issues or commitments we've had have been obviously very good ones, but it's just hard. It's been just getting used to it. It still probably hasn't sunk in completely."

Since claiming his maiden major title by two shots at Augusta, Johnson and his manager have been bombarded by requests for interviews.

"It's just overwhelming," he said. "I'm getting some of it, my agent is getting the bulk of it, and I can't imagine what his e-mail and his voice-mail systems are like right now."

His interview with Winfrey was a particular highlight.

"I think it's going to be good," Johnson said. "It was brief, which is probably a good thing considering I'm pretty boring for an hour-long show, I would think.

"And there were a couple of surprises on my segment, ones I'd rather not reveal."

Johnson is looking forward to this week, despite never having previously made the cut at Quail Hollow.

"Why I haven't played well here, I have absolutely no idea," he said. "I love it. It's one of my favourites on Tour. I think I missed the cut by a shot maybe once or twice."


May 2, 2007

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