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Masters winner still working on Champions Dinner
By Scott Michaux | Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 4, 2008 4:01 p.m.

Masters winner Zach Johnson had it all figured out last year.

With the brass from his favorite restaurant -- Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
-- Johnson had mapped out the meal he would serve at the Champions
Dinner. There would be Iowa beef, of course, to honor his roots. And in
a nod to his wife, Kim, there would be Amelia Island shrimp.

Since Johnson had heard that Vijay Singh used the owner of his favorite
Thai restaurant in Atlanta to prepare his menu in 2001, he assumed
precedent had been established for outsourcing.

"They said no," Johnson said of Augusta National Golf Club's reaction to
his plan. "We have to use their chefs."

So it was back to the drawing board, and the menu remains a work in
progress with only a couple of weeks before his mid-March deadline. Surf
and turf is about as concrete as it gets so far.

"We're trying to piece some things together and see how that works out,"
Johnson said Tuesday in a conference call. "I have a feeling it's going
to be some Midwest food with some Florida flair."

Other than what he's going to feed his green-jacketed peers, here's a
couple of other things Johnson had to say in an interview he hopes "to
make a consistent part of my routine year to year."

On last season: "2007 was certainly a pretty awesome year starting with
our firstborn, and then obviously highlighted by our first win in a
major. That being the Masters was a dream come true. So I'm looking
forward to defending this year, and whatever comes along with that.
Certainly, it's been overwhelming and the opportunities that have been
given have been numerous. But it's been all good stuff and, you know,
we're enjoying it. So it's been a nice roller coaster, and we're excited
to be on it."

On being a part of the Champions Dinner: "I've heard it's a pretty
casual evening. They just kind of stand around and chat a little bit,
more or less. I hear a lot of the veteran past champions, if you will,
just kind of tell stories. If that's the case, I know I'm just going to
be a fly on the wall, kind of a sponge, just soak it all in and listen.
I think I'll probably have to say a piece, and that's a little
nervewracking. Hope I don't screw it up. Considering the fraternity I'm
in and the gentlemen that will be accompanying me, I'm excited. That's a
lifetime dream right there and knowing that I'll be able to go back to
that meal until -- well, whenever -- is pretty special."

On Tiger Woods' current form: "He's back to those days where if he plays
mediocre to bad, he might finish in the top two or three; if he plays
good or really good, he's going to win."

On any holes at Augusta that players think about before the day starts
like they do the 17th hole at Sawgrass: "I think one of the hardest
holes day in and day out is No. 4. There is no water. There is no
hazard, really. But that front left pin placement ... it's exceptionally
difficult. ... I think the top right pin placement on 6 is very
difficult. ... And certainly 12, any pin placement, it doesn't matter
there. That's all windbased and certainly club selection is of the
utmost there. ... I think the only other one would be the front right
pin on 16. ... Those are the ones that stick out to me."