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THE PRESIDENTS CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
December 2, 2019
CHRIS REIMER: We are super excited to be this close to The Presidents Cup, and I think the only person probably more excited than us is Rickie Fowler, who was named as a replacement for Brooks Koepka, he has a 4-3-1 record, making his third appearance on the Presidents Cup. He was a memorable 3-0-1 in 2017 at Liberty National.
Rickie, let's start there. What was it like to get the call from Tiger and know that you're going to be down in Melbourne, Australia on one of the great worldwide courses at the Royal Melbourne golf club?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, obviously I would have liked to have made the team on points and not have to be worried about the process and waiting to see how Brooks was going to be feeling. I couldn't be more excited.
Love Australia. Love the style of golf down in Melbourne. Been there a handful of times and been able to play Royal Melbourne once, but like I said, it's some quality golf down there. I'm excited to be a part of the team and be heading back down.
CHRIS REIMER: Tiger made the comment that he worked with a lot of the assistant captains and a lot of the team members, and yours was the name that was kind of repeated by everybody. What's it like to have the support kind of all the guys wanting you on that squad?
RICKIE FOWLER: Humbling, but also, it's really cool to have the support of your peers and, you know, when they talk about captain's picks, it's also -- they are team picks. I mean, I know the captains have the final say and Tiger is the one making the call, but being a part of a number of teams, it comes down to a lot about who the guys want on the teams, who they think will pair up well for alternate-shot and best-ball, and just guys that are a good fit for the team.
It's awesome. These are some of the best weeks of our careers, and I'm lucky enough that I've been a part of a handful now, and I'm well aware of that.
Q. We're excited to have you down in Australia. The man you replaced, Brooks, you have a different game, and a lot of talk in Melbourne is that Royal Melbourne might suit you, and in particular, your wedge game. Do you agree with that assessment?
RICKIE FOWLER: I do. I've loved all the trips I've had down to Melbourne, especially just the style of golf I love; that kind of hard, fast, links-style of golf, and Royal Melbourne is definitely a golf course you need to think your way around and position yourself to be able to get at certain pin locations the right way.
I'm just looking forward to it just because I feel like down there and that style of golf, it just allows to you use your creativity and shot-making so much.
Q. You guys are the heavy favorites, there's no doubt about that. The U.S. Team is an ominous one with the majority inside the Top-20. When you look at the Internationals and your opposition, what concerns you, or what do you think the USA would be worried about in as far as maybe a certain player or the style of play, or the home advantage?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I mean, I think the last time we were down there when we played, I wasn't a part of the team, but it was a time we'd been beat. I think with having some young kind of new blood on the International Team, guys that are obviously playing well and ready to go down there and give us all they have got -- so I definitely don't look at this as, you know, one, where any specific side is favored.
I think both sides are coming in with strong teams and like I said, I think a lot of good, young talent on the International side, I think it was -- I think I saw the youngest team ever.
But also bummed that J-Day is not going to be part of it. Hope that both him and Brooks are going to be back healthy, soon.
Q. Can you just give us a quick update on how much golf you've been playing and where you feel your game is at this point?
RICKIE FOWLER: So, let's see, obviously took time off with the wedding and honeymoon after that, and that was the plan all along. But the last -- really, the last five weeks, I really haven't been around the house a whole lot. I think Allison is beginning to -- she's been hoping I've been sticking around a little bit. I've been putting in some long hours. Been playing a lot. Putting a lot of really good work in.
Obviously I would say not a whole lot of golf as far as tournament prep September and October. I was going to play Mayakoba but unfortunately had to pull out after we got home from our honeymoon. We had been home for about a week and I got food poisoning, so I wasn't able to really prep for Mayakoba.
Ever since got through that, it's been back to the grind, and I've actually been playing really well. I feel really good about the game and been able to get some great matches in with J.T. and Tiger and Gary and some of the other guys in South Florida. We've been playing plenty of golf this last month or so.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk to Brooks at all? Do you feel any extra pressure trying to replace the world No. 1?
RICKIE FOWLER: I talked to him a little bit when his final announcement was made that he was not going to be making the trip down.
Yeah, it's definitely not easy to replace world No. 1. Like I said earlier, I'm really just hoping that Brooks is able to heal up and get back to playing competitively soon, which I don't have a doubt on that.
But no, I'm excited for the opportunity to go down there and play with the rest of the guys on the team, and like I mentioned, some of my favorite style of golf is that kind of links, fast, firm style of golf course, and so I feel like I can go down there and definitely hold my own.
Q. Since the passing of Jarrod Lyle, Leuk the Duke has been part of your outfits through pretty much every tournament you've played. Will Leuk be on the U.S. Team uniform, and will you get to see Briny while you're in Melbourne?
RICKIE FOWLER: I haven't been able to speak with Briny a whole lot. I have an e-mail just sent, I have to get back to her on. I know she's going to try to make a quick trip down to Melbourne, but she's got a lot going on with the foundation and with all the Leuk stuff. I know she's got a couple setups at the Aussie Open and a few of the events down there the next couple weeks.
We are hoping to try to catch up in passing at some point hopefully. I'm always going to be a huge supporter of Leuk and Doug and Jarrod Lyle, being the relationship that him and I had. So yeah -- I've got my duck with me, and to put in some miles, the same duck that Jarrod gave me back in, I think -- I got it back in 2012, I believe.
I might have to pick up some more of the Leuk the Duke merchandise down there while we're in Oz.
Q. You've probably been -- I guess we all sort of have our own connection to Jarrod and representing as best we can, but why has it been so important to you to continue to wear the pin in every tournament you play?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, so it was something that Jarrod and Briny had talked about, and he had told Briny that that was something he wanted to ask of me, someone to kind of help carry the torch for the Leuk the Duke brand and everything it stands for, as well as Jarrod, himself and his family, everything they went through, not just the last time, but all three times.
So for me to be able to do something as little and small as wearing a pin on my hat, to kind of represent all of that, was something that I was honored to be able to do and look forward to be able to put that pin on there every round I played last year.
I'm looking forward to being able to work on some more things with Briny in the future, and hopefully some stuff soon to kind of keep that momentum rolling with Leuk the Duke. Leukemia has been something that I've had multiple friends or friends of friends that have been affected here in the States, as well. Something that's definitely close to myself, and obviously with Briny and Jarrod, multiple friends here in the States, as well.
Q. You're very popular down here, but Adam Scott and Marc Leishman are both encouraging the fans to not clap for you guys and be too supportive of Team USA next week. What kind of a reception are you expecting?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, I would love to have support of good golf. I don't expect to be any kind of fan favorites or anything like that down there. I expect the home crowd to root for the home team, but I think that we want to show off good golf from both sides, and have the fans appreciate good golf.
But if they cheer louder for a birdie on the International side versus a birdie on the U.S. side, that's how it should be. It's a home game for the Internationals, but we are going to try and keep them quiet and take care of our business.
Q. Do you have any particular players you'd look forward to playing with? I know you played with Justin Thomas in the past.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, obviously Justin is top of the list. Him and I having a great showing at Liberty National there for the last Presidents Cup. Another one I played with in team format before is Dustin.
Outside of that, you know, I'm kind of last man on the team, not necessarily in a position where I get to say, "Hey, I'm playing with this guy, send me out."
I feel like I'm great to kind of be a rover and fit in and be able to play with just about anyone, but yeah, not sure who I'll be with. We haven't gone into too much detail yet, and I think over this coming week and probably a little bit of the flight down, we'll start to narrow some things down before we get out there for some practice rounds.
Those would be the two guys that would be kind of towards the top of my list of, like I said, guys that I've had experience playing with before, but I'm pretty open.
Q. Do you feel like you're the kind of player who can play with anybody?
RICKIE FOWLER: I do. I fine, I say that but I do feel like there's guys that I know better and that I've played with more and I feel like there is a better fit when it comes to that.
No, I feel like I'm very easygoing as a player. I don't have anyone that I would say I'm not going to play with them. Also, I kind of hope to feel the same way about my teammates, as well, as they would want to go tee it up with me.
But yeah, to each their own. There's guys out there that have their hands full or a few guys that they will and some that they won't, and I feel like that's where I can be sometimes a little bit of an easy guy on the team to be able to fit it in and go tee it up with just about anyone.
It's something that I remember back to 2010 Ryder Cup. I had my few guys that I was practicing, getting ready to play with, and night before one of the alternate-shot matches, with the rain and delays and everything, kind of got mixed up and we had to play everyone. Jim Furyk and I had to go tee it up together, and nothing that we had prepared for but that was the way everything fell because there was going to be an odd group out based on everyone having to play.
Q. So you leap in and play however you're needed?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I can play multiple positions. I think after playing a handful of these, you get to know the formats a little bit better. Obviously best-ball, you're playing your own ball, so there's not a whole lot to that. And alternate-shot, you can play around having to play the two different balls, if needed, teeing off with the other guy's ball, and figuring things out from there.
So I don't think -- it's not as complicated as it may sound at times, but it can be a little tough. So it's a big thing having guys just step up and go figure out a way to get it done.
Q. As you know, the International Team has only won once, '98 at Royal Melbourne, so it's been a lot time between drinks as we say down here. I understand that Tiger has given strict instructions to the team that they are not losing on his watch?
RICKIE FOWLER: Sorry, what was that? Repeat again?
Q. That Tiger has told all the U.S. Team guys that under no circumstances are we to lose on his watch.
RICKIE FOWLER: I haven't heard any of those specifics. I know that he does not want to go down there and not come back without the Cup. You know, me being kind of a late addition, I haven't been a part of team talks that first couple months that the team -- that the first eight were named and after the captain's picks.
I know Tiger means business. He's not overlooking anything, and I think over the last few years, people have begun to see how much the team events do mean to Tiger.
Q. Just as a follow-up, you mentioned practice rounds you've been playing with the other guys on the team. How strong is the banter when you're out there going head-to-head in those sorts of practice rounds?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, we've been playing back home in South Florida. Tiger's been out a couple times with us. Patrick Cantlay, Gary Woodland, J.T., played with DJ a few times back home. It's nice that we all live close to each other. We can all get some work in, push each other.
There's plenty of banter between, depending on who we are playing, individual or team games against each other. There's no shortage of that.
Q. Just further to that end, you've played a lot of team golf as an amateur and as a professional. How does Tiger being a playing captain change the dynamics, and how do you think is that will add to him being a teammate and a captain at the same time?
RICKIE FOWLER: He's definitely got a lot on his plate. It's going to help that he's got some great guys around him as assistants that will be able to step into his role at times. I definitely don't want him as a player to have to try and do both full time.
I think he'll be able to be captain when we are not playing or getting ready to go play, and he'll set the captain title aside and go be him as Tiger go play some golf. Like I said, having Zach and Freddie and Strick there, obviously some guys that have been around the game for a bit. Zach is going to be around that, assistant captain, captain, I'm sure he's going to be captain in both Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup down the road. Those are guys that are going to make the whole week a little easier for TW on the captain side.
Q. Is he the type of guy that wants to do it all himself?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, he's definitely that kind of guy. I think between Freddie, Strick and Zach, they may have to pull him back a little bit or tell him to just go play golf and let them take care of some stuff.
But yeah, Tiger's definitely someone who likes to kind of be in control of what he can be in control of, and he's definitely detail-oriented. Loves all the info he can get. So yeah, I'm not sure what those guys will do, if they will kick him out of the room, tell him to go hit balls or whatever it may be.
But I know that going into this week here at Hero in the Bahamas, Tiger will be making sure his game's ready, and I'm not worried about him. I think he's shown what he's capable of earlier this year at Augusta and going over to Japan and getting himself another win.
Q. Which of those three assistants are most likely to keep him in line?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think they all have their maybe special -- not sure what I'd even call it. They all have maybe their certain way with Tiger. You know, Strick being someone that's been a partner of his and someone I think that Tiger's kind of looked up to, and same with Freddie. They are all good friends of Tiger's. And Zach being a little bit more of a peer of his, around the same age, and they have played plenty of golf together.
So I think they all bring a different dynamic to the table.
Q. I just had a couple of questions, following re Tiger. We all know it's an absolute competitive beast and has been throughout his career. Will that rub off on you guys in some way, or is he the sort of captain that will be rah-rah, trying to get you guys fired up, as well?
RICKIE FOWLER: You know, I don't look at him as someone that's going to be trying to, you know, get us pumped up or anything like that. I think it's a little bit more of like, hey, this is your job, this is what you need to go do, go take care of business, so a little bit more to the point. Keep it simple. Go do what you know how to do.
I don't see Tiger bringing out any pom-poms or doing any kind of cheerleading stunts for us, but I think all of us will get a good laugh out of there.
Q. Will that rub off on you guys --
RICKIE FOWLER: He has every competitive gene that you could think of.
Q. And you guys see that, and obviously you're all competitors, as well, but that makes you go a little harder and bring that little extra ten percent maybe?
RICKIE FOWLER: Definitely, most of those guys on the team are, I would say, Tiger being -- pretty sure he's the oldest player on the team, or at least close to it, but most of the guys on the team, we all grew up watching Tiger and looking up to him. He was someone that was, you know, pushing golf and moving the needle.
So to be on not only a team with him, but him being a captain of the team, it's special. We all want to play with him. We all want him to push us. But I think over the last, you know, five years or so, it's really been fun, especially J.T. and I, to build a relationship with Tiger and feel like we're, you know, kind of helping push him at the same time.
You know, kind of kicking him in the butt to stay healthy and work at it and come back, and to see him, for me, a couple years ago as he was kind of making his come back and playing at home, and to see him go out and enjoy playing golf again was pretty special.
So I don't like that he's beaten me a bit, but see if we can repay him in this next year.
Q. I think everyone bar DJ will be in the Bahamas this week. Will there be lots of team talk and after the plane trip when you're together, will that be a full-on planning trip? How will that work?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think there's going to be a little bit of team stuff, maybe not as much as you guys may think. Tiger has a pretty full plate with him being the host of this tournament, so there's a lot of stuff for him to take care of this week.
I would think we're going to have a few little things when Tiger gets free time, and then probably the first part of the flight we'll get some stuff played out, but from there, legs up and try to get as much sleep as we can before we land on Monday.
Q. The chartered flight down, what will you be doing to pump yourself up, maybe one of the Rocky movies?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think everyone has to find their own little pump-up. I like listening to some music at times leading up. Not to get overly pumped up. I don't want to be too juiced up on the first tee.
But I think everyone kind of has their own way of going about things during warmups. I think you see Patrick out there, he's pretty much headphones in the whole time, and he's in his kind of zone. There's others that are a little bit more laid back.
Can't really put a team ritual on how we all get pumped up.
Q. Anyone on the team with strange music taste, or what do you do to calm yourself down or pump yourself up?
RICKIE FOWLER: If there's anyone on the team that has strange music taste, I don't know, but that may come out in the next week, or especially when we're down there, so that may be exploited a little bit and we'll make sure everyone knows.
Yeah, for me, I think just after the round, need to calm down and relax, just getting on the table and getting some therapy and listening to some music. That's just when you go into kind of full shutdown.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much again for the time, and good luck this week in your return to action at the Hero World Challenge. Can't wait to see you and the rest of the team down in Melbourne in less than a week's time. Again, appreciate you being on the line and congratulations for making the team. Doesn't matter how you made it, just good that you're on it, right?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, appreciate it. Yeah, thanks for having me on.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports