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February 2, 2016

Rickie Fowler

Scottsdale, Arizona

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Welcome World No. 4, Rickie Fowler, to the interview room here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Four-time a champion around the world since you were here last year. Maybe start off by talking about what it's like for you to come back to this tournament and goals going forward this year.

RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I always enjoy being back in the desert. I have had some good play here. The Thunderbirds have been amazing to me, giving me a spot here as an amateur, been here every year since. It's always a week I look forward to.

Been playing well through the last, middle of last year into the fall. Excited to continue that. Last week was a little hiccup along the way but looking forward to picking back up where we left off in Abu Dhabi.

THE MODERATOR: Bit of a whirlwind the last couple of weeks with all the travel. A big win in Abu Dhabi. Does that give you confidence coming into the stretch here on the PGA TOUR?

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, getting off to a good start this year with a good finish at Kapalua. Getting the win two weeks ago definitely put me in a little bit of a different mindset coming into this year than I have been pretty much all the years before then.

It felt like trying to get off to good starts, getting into contention and trying to get the year going from there. This year is a little different. Feel like I'm able to go out and be a bit more aggressive, play a bit more offensively, get the job done.

THE MODERATOR: If you have a question, raise your hand. We'll get you one of the microphones.

Q. Is that mindset you're talking about, is that because of the confidence you have in your game? How much more confident in your game are you now than a year ago at this time?
RICKIE FOWLER: A lot more confident as far as coming off of now four wins in the last nine months. The game feels great. Towards the end of last year is some of the best I have ever been swinging.

Probably a couple of the stretches at Kapalua and the weekend at Tiger's event in the Bahamas I was putting together some good rounds of golf where it was just easy hitting it close, making some putts, and it was great to see that and knowing that there is still a lot of room for improvement and continue to get better.

So that's what's exciting about it. I have been playing well, but I know that I can keep getting better.

Q. How seriously do you take your role as a golfer that can grow the game and some of these little kids can look up to as a young golfer?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's a really cool position to be in to have partnerships like I do with the PGA, the junior league there, and I will also be doing stuff with the AGGA and to have the fan base that it's grown over the years. It's really cool. It's an honor to be in my position, and it puts things into perspective out there. Even when I'm having a rough day, it kind of calms me down a bit and lets me know that I'm, you know, still out there and actually a role model to young kids. So it's really cool and fun at the same time.

Q. Obviously this isn't your normal tournament. Do you have to prepare yourself when you head to the first tee knowing the stadium's awaiting you, there is thousands of people every hole, noise everywhere, and do you embrace this type of thing?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't do anything differently. I don't feel like I need to. I love this event, and I definitely, like you said, embrace the crowd, the atmosphere. You can definitely use it to your advantage if you're playing well and kind of feed off the crowd's energy.

So I have always enjoyed it. I have had some great weeks here. I have had a couple not so great, but it's just a fun week. The Thunderbirds and Waste Management do a great job. It seems like it keeps getting bigger and bigger. I know they have added a few things this year with the Bay Club on 17, and it's a week I always look forward to.

Q. What's the best line you have ever heard from a fan?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't even know. There is probably going to be a new one this week.

Q. What's the last few weeks been like for you in terms of traveling and keeping your body rested and just going all over the world like you have?
RICKIE FOWLER: The big thing, staying in the gym and with the treatment basically on a daily basis, make sure the body is good to go. Been trying to stay up on rest. Last week I tried to kind of keep Monday and Tuesday pretty light, because it's a pretty good hike to and from Abu Dhabi.

Wouldn't change that. It was a successful week. You know, I felt like last week I still wasn't -- I wasn't far off. I mean, a few putts go in and I'm actually in a good position.

Excited to pick that back up this week. So the travel part of it, obviously you can I went over there and played well. It's no reason why you can't travel and play well, but the biggest thing is just the rest side of it and make sure the body is ready.

Q. Were there any crashes?
RICKIE FOWLER: I slept pretty well on the way back, on the flight. But it's tough getting back on the time change with it being a 12-hour difference.

Q. The win in Abu Dhabi prompted a lot of talk about the Big 4, you probably joining Spieth, McIlroy, and Day. In your mind, do you need to win a major to be in that group? How much of that is a focus this year?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, a major is my main goal right now going forward. I mean, you can keep going down the list and say there is a big 5, big 10. There is a lot of guys playing well. I know with what Rory, Jordan, and Jason have done, they have definitely distanced themselves.

You can see it in the world ranking, in the points there. I am the fourth-ranked player, fourth in line, big 4, but I've got a little catching up to do on the world ranking side of things.

Q. Do you feel your game is at the point now where it's time to win a major?
RICKIE FOWLER: I feel very good off the wins I have had this past year, and yeah, excited about the majors this year and Augusta just around the corner.

Q. Two totally different things. First thing, what kind of goes through your mind when you're on 15 going to 16 there?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, first of all, trying to take care of 15, it's a hole where, I mean, you want to make birdie. It can jump up and bite you. You can't really think too far ahead there. You're typically trying to figure out where or check the wind, because 15 and 16 run the same way. So that's one thing we may be paying attention to to prepare for 16 since you get inside the stadium a lot of times and you can't feel the wind. You have to go off the hole before and where it's been through the day.

It's fun. It's a hole you look forward to, or at least I do.

Q. And then secondly, Jordan talked a little bit about this last week feeling exhausted and saying basically that he's not sure he will have quite the travel schedule he's had in the last few months. You're a guy who has done a fair amount of it. How tempting can it be to play some of these places around the world and that sort of thing, and how much do you have to sort of maybe scale back on that at times?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, you definitely live and learn a little bit maybe what your limitations are and how much you can fit in and whether it's a month, two months, or how much you want to travel throughout the year.

I know that a lot of us -- I know Jordan enjoys seeing new places. He was excited about going to Abu Dhabi. I enjoy travel and seeing different places: food, cultures, and just being in different parts of the world.

But there's definitely time management and understanding, finding out the limitations.

He's still young. He's figuring it out early. He'll be all right.

Q. How long did it take you to kind of figure it out? You have been out here longer.
RICKIE FOWLER: I think it can change over time, but I know I went through a stretch the end of my rookie year, I ended up playing well enough to get myself in some events and I had a stretch, I think I went, might have been Frys to Vegas to Malaysia to China to Disney. Kind of figured out, okay, that's a little much.

A lot of times now I don't play more than three weeks in a row. I feel like you learn about traveling pretty quickly how much you can and can't do.

Q. I'm still interested in what it was like transitioning back to the Farmers' time zone. On Thursday morning did you feel fresh and sharp or did it take a while for you to work into it?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, I did. Actually the great thing about going to Abu Dhabi and back with the 12-hour time change, you are tired early and you wake up early. So it's a lot better than traveling from the West to the East Coast where you're three hours kind of behind and going to bed late and struggling to get up in the morning.

That was one bonus. So it worked the same way coming back, as well. I was tired early at night and then able to wake up in the morning. It was typically towards the afternoon where you start to feel a little bit of a crash.

I felt like I did a great job. I had a couple things to do with Farmers, got to do the junior clinic on Monday, but I kept things at a minimum to make sure I was able to get rested up for Thursday. I felt good. Like I said earlier, it was just a matter of a couple of putts going in and it changes kind of the rhythm and momentum of a round.

Yeah, definitely not looking back at that as it was a bad thing, that I had a lot of travel. I was ready to go Thursday, and we did a good job of managing that.

Q. You mentioned that a major championship is the next thing on your radar, but you have won four times in nine months and that's the same as Jason and Jordan and more than Rory with the injury. Do you think we put too much credit in major championships considering the talent pool in everyday PGA events, WTCs, FedEx Cup events and even some of the international?
RICKIE FOWLER: The strength of the fields are very good, especially on the PGA TOUR. I mean, Abu Dhabi, they were able to put together a great field there, being one of the stronger events on the European Tour.

A major is always going to be a major. Those are iconic weeks through the year, and no, there's a lot of credibility to winning for a reason. They are big, special weeks, and it's definitely why it's No. 1 on the goals list right now.

Q. In terms of a major, how much of it is where your game is at that week or believing you can win a major?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's definitely different, has a different feel to it. The courses typically are set up differently. But a big part of it is having the belief and the confidence and knowing that you can do it. Obviously winning one before, I'm sure the guys have a different feeling being at majors now.

I feel like I have won some tournaments with some pretty good fields. The players arguably the strongest we play.

No, I definitely feel like I'm ready. I know I can win in those situations, but we only get four chances a year. If you can get your game to peak at those right times, I don't know if there is a secret remedy or anything for that, but no, I think a lot of it is just knowing and believing that you can get out and go do it.

Q. You and Jason Day and Jordan and all those guys have really been obviously in the mix a lot and actually turning being in contention and to actually winning. What is that fine line like of winning and coming in second or third or something like that? Is it confidence or more just a few putts that week?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, the confidence definitely helps. There are so many different things. It can be one little bounce. Can be a certain putt that goes in and you go off and birdie four, five of the next few holes.

It's pretty crazy how fine a line it is. I mean, you look at what Sneds did last week to being a little ways back and just happens to put together an amazing round and ends up winning.

Really, you make the cut out here, unless there is someone that's ran away with the tournament, just getting into the weekend you never know what's going to happen.

You look at guys missing cuts by one or two, and one or two more putts go in and they have a chance at winning a golf tournament instead of having a weekend off. It's a very fine line.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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