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March 21, 2016

Rickie Fowler

Austin, Texas


CHRIS REIMER: Rickie Fowler, welcome here to Austin. Just got done hearing your picks for the Dell Match Play, just some opening comments on being here and being prepared for this event.

RICKIE FOWLER: Well, definitely excited to be in Austin. Great town. I got to spend the weekend with my buddy Jim Walker just down the road.

Obviously, match play adds a little bit of excitement, different kind of style of tournament than what we're used to. I got to play Austin Country Club for the first time today and it seems like a fun course to play. It's in great shape. The greens are on the firm side, which is nice. I know the wind is supposed to pick up. I know it's going to be a good test this week.

Q. Playing with Jordan today, Jordan has played this two dozen times or more, did he give you tips or keep them to himself?
RICKIE FOWLER: We were playing a match against Jordan and Justin, so he wouldn't talk to us. No, no, I'm kidding.

No, Jordan definitely helped around the way. I know both Justin and Jimmy have played it before. I'd never played the course. The main thing are lines off the tees, and understanding the golf course a little bit and understanding the greens.

Jordan definitely helped out when there was any question, kind of where to hit the ball and how to play certain holes depending on conditions. So definitely nice to get out with someone that's been around the course quite a few times. We all had a good time out there today.

Q. (No microphone.)
RICKIE FOWLER: We're very competitive. It was Jordan and Justin versus Jimmy and I. We had a good time. We held our own in the match play, but ultimately came down to the last hole and Jordan made a nice little birdie putt to close us out.

Q. How much do you treat match play as opposed to stroke play, is it like every day is a new tournament? Is it five mini tournaments, rather than the whole four-day tournament?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I think now with the new format versus how it was before, you're looking at the first three days playing against your group. You're definitely playing three days, for sure. Obviously, at the same time, you have to basically take care of business each time. There is no do-or-die situation, so you can't get knocked out the first day.

I feel like the difference in match play is that it almost feels like you're always in a last group in contention on Sunday. And that's how you have to treat it. You need to go out and get the job done and take care of business.

Q. I noticed you made a new friend in Divot the dog on Twitter this week. How much has social media changed the landscape of what you guys can get out publically and do you enjoy it?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think social media has been a great asset, when used properly. It's enabled us to kind of give an insight into personal lives, to outside the ropes to what's going on, and to give that to our fans. And when it's done properly and when you're able to give good content, it can go a long ways.

I know there's a lot of possible sponsorship deals that can be done through social media, and it's a great way to be able to express what's going on. Like I said, it's more stuff that's not prime time TV and what you don't see on a day-to-day basis, maybe what we're doing in preparing for a tournament or what we do on our days off. I feel like it's been a lot of fun for me to be able to do it on my own and manage it, and then to use it to -- I don't know, like I said, it is fun. But to use it in a beneficial way to get more fans more involved.

Q. With Austin being a big college town and Jordan being a Longhorn, is it fun to come here and kind of change it up? This would be maybe like a college environment out there, hear a lot of "hook 'ems" and that kind of stuff?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I definitely feel like I'll be a little bit of an underdog, especially if I play Jordan.

But it is a great town. I've had a lot of fun in Austin prior to this week, playing a couple of college events here, being here for some sporting events before. And it is a fun town. Hopefully we get a good following out at the golf tournament. And, yes, Jordan will be a heavy favorite amongst the fans.

Q. You mentioned earlier on the slightly larger stage how important rest will be going into the major coming up. How important is it, when you're going through the Tour and the grinding of going from time zone to time zone and playing so much golf, to keep your body rested?
RICKIE FOWLER: The big thing is I try to take a day off every week leading into a tournament. So next week -- you never know how this week will pan out, but Monday will be an off day for me to kind of rest and recover and get ready for Houston.

And then going into Augusta, typically I played nine, 18, nine, so I try and keep it fairly minimal there. The big thing is, yeah, making sure I stay on top of working out, my therapy with my trainer, making sure the body is healthy. Outside of that, treating them in a way just like another tournament and not going against any other stuff that I normally do -- or I'm not going to try to rest anymore, per se, but stick to my normal routine.

Q. You haven't played with Justin Thomas to date. How would you assess his game, where it is now and how long until he breaks out in a big way?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think he made a really big step last year, part of this season, winning in Malaysia. He's a great player. He's a great ball-striker. He's someone that can go out and make a lot of birdies. He'll be tough to face in match play. But he's still young. But like I said, his win in Malaysia was a big step in the right direction and I don't think it's going to be too long before he wins again.

Q. You mentioned your relationship with Jimmy Walker. What is your friendship like with him and were you hanging out with him in Boerne leading up to this?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, Jimmy and I have become really close friends over the past few years. I flew in and stayed with him in Boerne over the weekend and played the last two days with him, Saturday and Sunday. Got to play with some of his boys that he normally plays with down there. Had a good time just kind of checking on the game, getting ready for this week and having fun just hanging with one of my best buds out here.

Q. In your first match you're playing against one of your friends. How much easier is it to play a match play situation with somebody that you're good friends with?
RICKIE FOWLER: The easier part is I think both Duf and I are going to go out and enjoy the matchup. We're going to have a good time. But it's almost more motivation, because you want to beat your friends even more. I don't want him to have any bragging rights on me, and he doesn't want me to have any bragging rights on him.

It's going to be a fun match. Obviously we're going to bring our best golf. We're going to go after each other, but enjoy doing it.

Q. So you guys see a different golf course every week. Obviously you've obtained a lot of skill in evaluating courses and assimilating the way they play quickly. What were your impressions of the green complexes today?
RICKIE FOWLER: The green complexes here are definitely -- there's a lot of character to them. There's quite a bit of slope on some. There's a lot of movement in certain areas. I feel like you have to be pretty precise with your approach shots, especially with the greens being as firm as they are. And there's going to be certain spots around the greens where you will not be able to hit it and get the ball up and down.

I think just having a little bit of a visual awareness, when you're looking at your yardage book, and working on your approach shot, understanding where you can hit it and where you can't hit it and then focus in on the proper place to hit it. Because you can make a lot of birdies out here with the proper shots, but it will jump up and bite you pretty quickly.

Q. Obviously Austin golf is known most for Crenshaw, Kite, Harvey Penick, what did you know about those guys kind of growing up in the game? Second, has Jordan, knowing him the way you do, has he talked about taking the torch from those guys and being the guy for the state of Texas, and especially the city of Austin that can be that guy?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean I looked at those guys as great players of the game, guys that have been a part of history. And then also looked at it as Texas guys. And as far as talking to Jordan about taking the torch or being the guy that is now the Texas guy, I don't think he's thought about it too much. I haven't talked to him about it much.

But when it comes down to it, yeah, he is the No. 1 player in the world and he's definitely earned that and deserves it. Kite and Crenshaw, those guys are still around, and Jordan has a long career ahead of him and we're going to have a lot of fun going forward. He is currently the Texas guy and hopefully he continues to be that guy for a long time. We're going to have some fun, like I said, playing against each other.

Q. How tough are those first four holes? You guys will be starting on the back nine. Is that a pretty tough way to start a match?
RICKIE FOWLER: The first four holes, Jordan and Justin, they birdied the first three on us today, and we were 2-down. I'm trying to forget that. I don't think they're very tough. They birdied the first three.

It's a good start to the course. The first hole is not too long. Today they were back into the wind. You had to play some golf going out. It's definitely not an easy start. Even 1, with it being a short hole, you have to hit a good drive and a good second shot.

I think it's nice to have a tough start. You've got to come out swinging and have your game ready to go.

CHRIS REIMER: Thank you for joining us. Good luck this week.


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