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June 3, 2015

Rickie Fowler


AMANDA HERRINGTON:  We'd like to welcome Rickie Fowler to the interview room here at the Memorial tournament.  You had a dramatic finish at The PLAYERS.  You had a runner‑up in 2010.  Start us off with how you're feeling after the PLAYERS, and going into this week.
RICKIE FOWLER:  I'm excited to be back playing in the States after last week, played the Irish Open, benefitting Rory's Foundation.  Had a great time over there, feel like I played well.  A couple of unfortunate holes, but excited about this week.  I've had a lot of good play here, a couple of good finishes.  So see if we can pick up where we left off.

Q.  I'm sure this is very similar to last week.  Can you talk about the second‑shot golf course people talk about, and the challenge on the approaches.  Talk about the challenges of this tournament, this course.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, most of the driving areas are generous in a way.  There are some tight holes where you do have to be careful.  But for the most part, it's a second‑shot golf course.  You have to have control of your golf ball coming to these greens, and you have to be able to put yourself on the right side of the hole on the right section of the green, which can definitely make a difference.  It's a three‑putt when you're in the wrong spot.
So having that control, coming from the fairway, it could be the proper side of the fairway, too, if the fairway is that big.  But having to come in from the right side to change the angle, it can turn it into a little bit of a tighter hole.  But it is definitely a second‑shot golf course.  And you're rewarded with good shots, but it will pick you apart if you're off your numbers or missing your lines.

Q.  How is Tiger viewed now as a competitor given his‑‑
RICKIE FOWLER:  He still looks the same.

Q.  Roller coaster ride.  You blaze the trail, you move the meter, how is he seen as a player now?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I don't look at him any differently.  I know what he's capable of.  Golf's tough and it's unfortunate that‑‑ to see him go through some of the injuries and the struggles that he's had to deal with.
But it can turn so quickly.  It could be just one putt going in or one good swing.  Like I said, I know what he's capable of, so I don't look at him as any less of a player than I ever have before.

Q.  We're approaching three majors to close out the season‑‑ three links courses to close out the season in the majors, how are you approaching that?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, I'm really looking forward to it.  Links golf is probably my favorite just because of how many options and how much creativity you get to use and imagination.
So last week was a good little warm up in a way, and I'm really looking forward to some links golf to come through the summer.

Q.  I was talking to teammates from Oklahoma State yesterday.  Basically a lot of how you learned to play in those conditions when you were down there in the cold, for a kind from Southern California.  Could you talk about that?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I think my first taste of wind‑‑ I grew up, every afternoon it would blow 15 to 20 every afternoon in California where I grew up.  So that was the start of it, and then going to school in Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, you played from anywhere from high 20s, temperature, to‑‑ I mean, you get there in August and it would be mid‑90s and humid, you could see from the PGA at Southern Hills, and that's when I started school.
So a lot of different weather that comes through there, a lot of wind.  So a lot of different conditions.  And you really learn to appreciate what the wind can do to your golf ball at those speeds.  And it did teach me a lot and helped me grow my game as far as ball‑striking went and playing in the wind.  So to be able to go and I feel like compete the way I do on links golf courses.

Q.  How do you balance the‑‑ in the social media age where not only you can put out information, but everyone has a cellphone, camera, whatever, how do you balance the need to share pieces of yourself with your fans, with trying to maintained some kind of privacy?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, like you said, you get to control really whatever you want.  It is up to me ultimately what I want out there, what I don't.  And so that's a good thing.
Yeah, once it's out there, it's out there.  And I feel like social media has done so much, a lot of good things for us being able to reach out to our fans but grow our fan base and reach the younger generation.  So I enjoy it and I like being able to have that connection to my fans.
I know some of the players that may be on the older side out here don't really use it and it doesn't really, I guess‑‑ it's not something they grew up with or are used to.  Social media definitely, like I said, helps us reach the younger generation and that's where I think a lot of the following is.  They enjoy seeing what goes on, on and off the golf course, what they can't see if they're just at a tournament watching.

Q.  You talked about some of the older players not really being conversant in it, but it seems like some people's handlers, some athletes in all sports, their handlers aren't really comfortable with what their clients are sometimes putting out there.  Is that a‑‑ do you find any conflicts that way and is there a downside to the social media world?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it can be fine lines, as far as you've seen people get in trouble on Twitter for either things said, posted or maybe commented back.  And it's tough.  A lot of times it does come back on the athlete or celebrity or whoever is the main name on social media.
So the downside of it, yeah, there's stuff that can be said on there by the general public that has no effect on them.  And if anything is said back, all the heat's the other way.  There is a downside of having to deal with a lot of negativity and hate as far as how far you want to read into it and look at.  But given pictures and clips of what's going on in life and sometimes you just don't look at what's said and let them have fun with it.

Q.  A lot of big events won by you, Jordan and Rory twice.  For fans, how exciting do you think this is?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it's a lot of great young players.  Rory has definitely distanced himself and he's‑‑ obviously he's the No.1 player in the world right now, and he's got more majors and more wins than all the young guys.  So he's at the top, and then there's‑‑ the list goes on, as far as guys of 20‑somethings, and guys that are playing well.
Jordan played some pretty amazing golf from the end of last year and he's not going away.  He's going to continue that.
So I'm really looking forward to this whole rivalry of a bunch of us.  It's not just going to be two guys, three guys, it's going to be depending on the week, which guys are playing well and who is up front and going at it.

Q.  Last two tournaments, notwithstanding the missed cuts in Europe, what part of Rory's game is at this point better than anybody else's?
RICKIE FOWLER:  He's all around a great player, but I'd say one of the difference‑makers is when his driving is on, it's probably where a lot of his confidence comes from.  If he's driving the ball well and he hits the ball, he's one of the longer guys out here.  When he's on point, hitting his lines, I feel that that gives him so much more confidence throughout the rest of his game and that's where he's able to kind of push on and take it to another level.

Q.  Speaking of confidence, obviously you get a great deal of confidence from winning a tournament.  But I wonder how the players, in particular the manner in which you won it, hitting enormous pressure shots to get to a playoff, and then in the playoff again repeating that, how did that affect the way that you feel about your game moving forward, the fact that you're able to deliver multiple times in that scenario?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, it was definitely something I look back on and knowing the situation that I was in and how comfortable and confident I felt, because a lot of times it may come down to one or two swings under that kind of pressure or situation.  I had to keep going up against it.  No one was really backing down.  The guys came in, made birdies.  And Kisner almost won the tournament out right.  And to see the kind of golf they played coming in after I posted and then having to go back out and do it for four more holes, it was tough.
But being able to look back and see what I did only thing is going to help me when I'm in a similar situation or just a situation where I'm looking to pull out a good swing.  And with being in the end of regulation into the playoff, I was thinking back to times when we've had games with Phil and Tuesday games and being in situations where, maybe my partner is out of the hole and having to step up and make birdie there, or I'm trying to birdie the last few holes to flip a match.
Those matches and situations definitely have helped me when it comes to that time and having me at that time look back for something to pull on.  And now I can look back at the matches and the players.

Q.  What's your favorite or most memorable interaction with Mr. Nicklaus, whether here or in Jupiter or elsewhere?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Probably my favorite is just being involved at The Bear's Club and then playing his charity event every year, The Jake, to see his appreciation of a lot of guys coming out and supporting him and the Foundation that week or that day, the Monday of Honda.  It's just fun getting to hang out that day and see what him and Barbara have done on and off the golf course and just being able to help them out.

Q.  Any great tidbits or advice he passed along?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I haven't been able to play with him yet, I'm definitely looking forward to doing something like that, and maybe then learning a little bit more and picking his brain.  But it's been a lot of fun to get to know both him and Barbara.

Q.  Two questions.  One, can you talk a little bit about Royal County Down and what you thought of the venue?  I know you've been there in the past.  What it played like and would you like to see more of those type of weeks on this Tour?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Royal County Down, I may be biased just because it's one of my favorite golf courses in the world, and the memories from '07 and the Walker Cup.  It was a lot harder last week than I remember in '07.  It was a true test.  I made some bad swings at the wrong times, and you could see, I finished 88 on Saturday.  I put myself in the position to go into Sunday prior to that with a chance to go win another tournament.
But it was a very tough test of golf.  I thought they did a great job putting the event on.  They only had‑‑ I think they sold it out, 20,000 people per day, kind of a venue in a way like Merion was for the U.S. Open, and limited spectators.  But it was hard.  It was a mental challenge out there, for sure.
But I really enjoy playing links golf.  I can't speak for everyone else on the PGA Tour, but for me it just gives me so many more options, I can take a lot more shots and use my imagination.

Q.  Tiger talked about his two days at Chambers Bay.  He said it took him three and a half hours on the front nine, went in and had some lunch, and then another three and a half hours on the back nine, and then played a second day before he came here.  That's a lot of time spent.  Do you feel like you're giving something up to players that take the time to go out there and spend that much time on it?  One of the things that Tiger seemed to mention was the fact that there's numerous options that that golf course is going to bring, and numerous options that Mike Davis could entertain you with.  Do you feel like you might be behind the 8‑ball by making the trip out there yet?
RICKIE FOWLER:  No, not necessarily.  I'm looking forward to getting up there, planning to playing next Sunday leading up to the week.  And I have heard that there's quite a bit of options and there's going to be probably the most changing of the golf course ever before.
But I guess I don't want to spend too much time.  I want to focus on this week and be able to prepare and play well this week and make sure my game is ready to go.  If I'm playing well and hitting my targets and my numbers and my lines, it's going to make it easier to go get ready to play a golf at the U.S. Open.

Q.  We were talking to Jack earlier about separating good golfers with some great golfers.  He talked about winning breeds winning.  How are you going to use the win at the majors to the rest of the season?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Just with how I played down the stretch, kind of pulling out the shot making and the putts that I made when I needed to.  And I was putting myself in that same position in Ireland and made a couple of mistakes that I shouldn't have, and that's something to look back on and figure out how to fix that.
But I'm very comfortable with where my game is right now and my swing.  To come off of that and continue putting myself in situations come Sunday, to just go up against the best players in the world, and sometimes you have to get a little lucky or you're going to have to make‑‑ playing the last ten holes 8‑under to win, you never know.  But definitely not going to back down.  I'm going to play to win.  And that's what I did at The PLAYERS.  And it should be a fun run.

Q.  I'm just curious, how many of the Tour players or their wives have come to you for schooling on celebratory kisses?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I think there was some stuff on social media or stuff that was said to me.  I think we've done pretty well with that.  So we haven't set up any classes or lessons yet (laughter).
AMANDA HERRINGTON:  Thank you everyone.  Thank you, Rickie, for your time.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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