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March 2, 2016

Rickie Fowler

Miami, Florida

CHRIS REIMER: Want to welcome Rickie here to the media center here at the Cadillac Championship. Rickie returning here to Trump National Doral. Just maybe some opening comments on what it's like to be back.

RICKIE FOWLER: Excited to be back. Been playing well. Coming off some wins last year, getting a win earlier this year to start off. It's always a tough test here. Tough week, but with the best players in the world, going to have to be on top of your game to have a chance this week.

Q. You obviously rose to the apex in this profession. Has it changed your outlook about it, looking from the top down through the years, looking back at the new guys coming on, things of that nature? Has it changed your aspect in terms of this wonderful game?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, it hasn't changed much for me. I think for my confidence, my belief in myself has definitely changed, knowing that I can go out and compete with the best players in the world, and just having that belief in myself is nice to have and nice to have that confidence.

It's a great position to be in, being one of the top players in the world right now and having great friendships with the guys at the top and around me, and being able to do stuff together charity-wise and foundations, seeing new faces on TOUR and being able to make new friendships there and help out guys if needed, it's a lot of fun.

Q. As good as this year's been starting out, has there been a little bit of frustration, last weekend or anything like that, that you want to be marching forward towards Augusta, and do you feel like there's been any frustration?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, I just feel like we're working out any kinks on the way to Augusta. Definitely know that I've been swinging really well. The putter wasn't great last week, and I didn't swing it very well on the weekend. But it was nice the way I was able to manage it and kind of hang around and still get a decent finish out of it with not having a good weekend.

Yeah, to be there and to be frustrated and upset with the game and to come away with a sixth-place finish (laughter) it's not bad. So I'm happy about that, as far as where my game is at and what I'm able to get out of it; and when things are clicking, that's when I'm winning.

Even looking back at Phoenix, I hit the shots I wanted to hit. I hit my lines and was able to make putts there. So definitely didn't lose that one, and I felt like I was in a really good position at Honda and unfortunately just got in a couple little bad habits on the weekend that caused me to make some poor swings.

I'm excited for this week. Excited to be back, hopefully get ourselves back in contention. Obviously with a great field, and this golf course is a very good, tough test.

Q. I don't know if you heard that Rory is going cross-handed and he's going to stick with it. What do you think of that, and would you change your putting grip this late in the game?
RICKIE FOWLER: I'm all for it for him. Actually before -- the last two years, I've kind of stuck to what I've done pretty precisely grip-wise, stroke-wise, setup and everything.

But before that, from probably when I was -- so 13 until I was about 24, 25, I would go back and forth all the time between regular and cross-handed. Won my first PGA TOUR event cross-handed. I played both ways through high school, kind of just depended. It felt like -- I can go into a long detailed reason why, but cross-handed actually helped me get my shoulders in a better position and more level.

And seeing on camera my stroke would be a lot better cross-handed. The way I took it back was a lot better. I didn't pick it up and it wouldn't get outside. So there's benefits. I've seen both sides of it, but I've just stuck to traditional and tried to keep things, kind of continue to work on that.

I completely understand and can back up Rory's decision to go cross-handed.

Q. So if you won your first TOUR event cross-handed, why did you change?
RICKIE FOWLER: I wanted to try it the other way (laughter).

Q. It was too easy that way? Secondly, what was more frustrating, I guess, losing the way you did in Phoenix, or last week the way you played at Honda down the stretch the last day?
RICKIE FOWLER: Similar. Like I said, I didn't feel like I lost the tournament in Phoenix. I hit the shots -- I hit it really well coming down the stretch. 17, I hit my drive exactly how I wanted to. I just happened to hit the one little downslope there is on that hole, and everything else in front of the green was soft. So to hit the shots and pull everything off, you have to go back and feel good about that.

A little bummed about last week, just not continuing to swing well over the weekend, because I felt like I definitely can win on that golf course. I played very well the first two days. So both similar but for different reasons.

Q. I'm taking for granted you were at the dinner last Thursday, and what was that like; did you get to talk to Jack that much by yourself?
RICKIE FOWLER: It was great. I've been around Jack quite a bit the past few years with the different tournaments to his charity event and seeing him at Bear's Club a bit. It was just fun to have that whole group of guys over at Jack's house, getting to spend time with both Jack and Barbara. They are special people.

It was fun just to hear stories from the past, some of his memories from The Ryder Cup, some of his -- kind of the way he thought about the majors and how he prepped and went about them. It was a great night, and even better food.

Q. How do you decide if you change from cross-handed to conventional and what makes you make a decision, oh, I'm going to change this week?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, sometimes it can be if you're struggling on setup or something feels uncomfortable, just a little change can help reset things.

Like I said, I haven't done that in a few years, but I used to go back and forth a bit with it. There's been times where in tournaments I've putted conventional from distance putting, just because I feel like it's better for speed, then I've putted cross-handed on shorter putts because I felt like it was a little more sound fundamentally at times.

But it's more of a personal feel thing. Sometimes it helps you feel a little better over the putt with the basic setup fundamentals.

Q. Do you see the line better or anything?
RICKIE FOWLER: It just depends. For what I work on that allows me to see my lines properly is if my head and my eyes are square to the line on the ground. But to do that, your feet have to be square, hips have to be square, shoulders have to be square and parallel to the ground.

So there's a lot of different factors and sometimes just simply, like I talked about, going cross-handed can actually help some guys who, if anything, they get their shoulders open, it would actually help them get back to square, which then puts the head in a position at setup.

So it's something simple by just having a grip change, it can help with multiple things through the setup of putting.

Q. And this is completely unrelated to that. Golf Digest had a survey, I think it was sometime toward the end of last year, and they were just asking readers a bunch of different kinds of crazy questions, and one of them is about having guys wear a microphone during the round. What do you think of that? Is that something you would ever do or do you think it's just the craziest thing in the world? Like if it were me and I were playing golf, I would get fined because I square when I hit a bad shot.
RICKIE FOWLER: I think it's too far away. I think if there was some ways to control it. I mean, I wouldn't want to be mic'd up 24/7 out there. I don't want to give away certain things that my caddie and I may be discussing throughout a round and what we're trying to work on or game plan or anything like that.

But I definitely -- I think that a lot of the conversations, especially prior to shots, are still caught on the mic quite a bit. And sometimes there might not be stuff that you want to get out, whether it's just discussing dinner from the night before. I think it's a little bit of a touchy subject. It could be -- it's a little bit of a fine line.

Q. Even though Donald Trump is running for President and he's running this at the same time, this course seems to be, based on other statements, getting better and better. What's your assessment as to the condition of the course and its playability?
RICKIE FOWLER: The course is in great shape. The greens are good. It's always nice to have good putting surfaces. And yeah, I feel like they continue to make little changes to make the course better. There's a few changes for this year. I feel like they did a good job on 7 to make it a better driving hole. It was almost a little too tight and a little unfair before. I think as soon as I stepped up on the tee, it was a lot more pleasing to the eye.

So yeah, I feel like they continue to make some minor and little changes along the way to make the course better, which is good.

Q. When do you start thinking about trying to get yourself ready for Augusta, and how do you sort of balance trying to peak in April when you've got two WGC events along the way in this stretch?
RICKIE FOWLER: I probably started thinking about it as soon as the tournament finished last year (laughter). It's a special place. You love going back to Augusta, everything about it.

But I think swing-wise and hitting shots, really probably started the week before last, before Honda. Just making sure -- being able to shape the ball left definitely helps with some tee balls out there, but you have to be able to shape it both ways. You don't have to but it helps to be able to shape it both ways.

Yeah, there's still some great events leading up to it. Last week and this week are two ball-striking weeks that tee-to-green, it's tough, and then if you make putts, it's a bonus. There's some good tests along the way, but part of it is making sure that you're rested up and ready to go for that week, too.

Q. Have you or will you take an advance trip there? Is that something usually do?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's something I usually have done. Right now, it's not part of the plan. Part of it is I feel like I know the course very well. I feel very comfortable there. I have the past few years. Biggest thing for me is making sure my game is ready and then that I'm rested and ready to play that week.

Q. You and Bubba have gone back and forth in that 4 and 5 spot in the world. How important is it for to you have bragging rights on him, and then also, do you ever allow yourself right now to think about No. 1?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I mean, having bragging rights on Bubba is big because if there any little thing or any little bragging right that he gets, he's going to use it. So yeah, it would be nice to sneak back past him. It's nice to see him playing well. It's nice to see him get a win at L.A.

Yeah, 1 has always been a thought. It's always been a goal of mine. It's a little bit more within reach now that I've played well, gotten some wins.

But still a lot more work that needs to be done if I want to overtake the guys that are in front of me, guys that have obviously played very well, major champions, and they are not going to go the other way. I'm going to have to play better than them.

CHRIS REIMER: Thank you, Rickie, appreciate it.

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