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April 5, 2016

Rickie Fowler

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, we are pleased to welcome back the incredibly talented Rickie Fowler for his sixth Masters appearance. Rickie had a breakthrough year in 2015, with a pair of victories on the PGA TOUR and one on The European Tour, highlighted by with his come‑from‑behind victory at THE PLAYERS. He finished the year with seven Top‑10 finishes overall and has started 2016 very strong with five Top‑10 finishes.
Before we open up for questions, could you speak on your success from last year and how that has helped you prepare for this Masters?
RICKIE FOWLER: Last year was definitely a step in the right direction for me, after good finishes in 2014 in the majors, going to last year, really all started with THE PLAYERS and getting the win there and getting my momentum and confidence built up for the summer and getting the win at Deutsche Bank, Scottish Open, as well.
It's been a fun ride since then, kind of having that, like I said, the extra confidence of belief when I was around the lead and getting myself into contention and wanting to get back there.
It's been a nice start to this year with a win in Abu Dhabi and some good finishes already. Just looking forward to this week and excited to be here at Augusta.

Q. What gives you more of a source of confidence, the contending in so many majors or closing out those two tournaments last year with the fields that they had?
RICKIE FOWLER: Winning, for sure (laughter). Definitely different circumstances. Obviously contending in majors and being up there in 2014 helped me have the confidence that I did when I was in contention and had the chances last year. Without having those final days in the majors, I wouldn't have had the success I did last year. So I feel like it's kind of been all a little bit of a process, but definitely more confidence has come from winning.

Q. And what's going to help you in this major based on last year?
RICKIE FOWLER: I feel like the perfect storm, combine 2014 and 2015 together, equals winning a major, that's the way I look at it. Winning I think it's been four times since THE PLAYERS last year, two on the PGA TOUR and two on The European Tour.
It's a lot more fun winning and I definitely get excited whenever I have the chance to be in contention and to have a chance at winning a golf tournament. It's something that I, maybe before, wasn't quite prepared for, didn't have the exact belief or confidence. It was more like a feeling of trying to go get it done and now it's, I believe I can go do it and I want to go do it.

Q. A lot of your success this year has been because of your solid iron play, accuracy. Does that give you a little bit more confidence heading in this time? When you think back, how might that help you even more here compared to the past years, the way you're playing with your irons these days?
RICKIE FOWLER: I feel like tee‑to‑green, I've been solid. Iron play has probably been better being that I've put myself in position to hit quality iron shots. So driving the ball well has kind of freed me up to have good iron play.
Hitting a lot of greens in regulation is a good thing. Happened to roll in a few putts and a lot of good things happened from there. It has been a lot more stress‑free tee‑to‑green and the iron play has helped that. It's been always a work‑in‑progress, always trying to tighten things up. I think the biggest area that we try to improve on is kind of 150 yards and in, to tighten that up.
I know that's obviously an area around here at Augusta, if you're not on top of your game there and you can't take advantage of the scoring opportunities, this course can tear you apart.

Q. The forecast calls for pretty strong winds the first three days. As someone who has said you enjoy playing in the wind, does that give you any extra edge here and do you change your game plan around this course knowing that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I haven't looked too much in depth on the forecast, but I have heard it's supposed to be a little windy and I heard a little potential rain Thursday early.
I love playing in the wind. I've played a lot growing up in Junior Golf and where I grew up and into college, obviously being in Oklahoma, can be a little windy there. Where I live in Florida now, I play a lot in the wind there.
So I love it. You definitely have to be on top of your ‑‑ go back to iron play and controlling ball flight and hitting solid golf shots. So this is a place that already demands that without any wind. You have to be even more precise with that. So it's a challenge that I definitely look forward. I love playing in the wind, and if it happens to blow like it's supposed to, everyone's going to be playing the same golf course, same conditions. So it will be fun.

Q. Speaking of that same golf course, Bubba said it's the fastest he's seen the greens on a Tuesday. Do you agree with that in your practice round? And a quick style question, on a scale of 1 to 10, how are the high tops being accepted by the fans and Patrons?
RICKIE FOWLER: The course definitely really good. I think you can say that just about every year. I think the only time is if there happens to be rain and it ends up being a little soft. The course is great. It changed a bit from yesterday to today. I think they lowered the blade on the greens and around the greens, sped up a little bit. Maybe a foot faster on the greens. If we don't get a whole lot of rain, they are going to have full control of how they want this golf course to play.
Style‑wise, high tops have been great for me. Got the jinx off early with a win, so those aren't holding me back at all. I love them. I haven't worn the low tops as much just because I enjoy wearing the high tops and the support they actually give me. So they don't just look good; they actually work, as well.

Q. In terms of the majors, how important is the Masters relative to the other ones? And just curious, also, in preparing for this year's Masters, anything different that you've done preparation‑wise to get that first major win that you've talked about?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, the Masters being the first one of the year, obviously all of them have their own type of history. They are all unique in their own way. But this is the first one of the year. It's obviously a long wait after the last one. It's a special week here. Like I said, they are all unique in their own way.
But every time you come, step on property here, drive down Magnolia Lane, just being on the golf course and around this place is pretty special. I didn't do anything really different this year. I think the biggest thing was making sure that my schedule leading up was to be ready and rested for this week, and to make sure my game was kind of trending and working to be ready to play this week.

Q. You've had some nice Top‑10s lately. Where is your game compared to where it was when you won in Abu Dhabi? And second part of the question is, do you feel like you're coming in a little bit under the radar? You once described yourself as a sneaky fourth in the world. You look at the press room and there's not quite the hysteria as there is for Jason Day or maybe Jordan.
RICKIE FOWLER: I'm fine with sneaking around (laughter).
I feel like my game is better than it was at the start of the year. I didn't feel like I had my best to start the year, but I got a lot out of it and was able to minimize my mistakes, and like I said, get the most out of it. I feel like I've played very efficiently this year which has led to a lot of solid finishes.
Like what I was talking about earlier, just continuing to work on the game and keep it trending the right way leading into this week. I feel like we've done a great job of that and making sure that I've been able to balance time on the road, off, and the preparation for this week. This has been kind of the number one goal at the start of the year was to be ready for this week, to be ready to go play Augusta.

Q. Your name obviously comes up a lot among the best players who have yet to win a major. I think Dustin said yesterday, he views that as a positive, because to be a best player, no matter what comes after that is pretty good. What's your view on being part of that conversation?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's fine with me. I like to look at it as I'm still out here hopefully for quite a while, this being my sixth Masters. There's guys here, 15, 20‑plus Masters, so hopefully this is in the early stages.
But to be considered one of the best players without a major, it's a pretty good group of guys. There's some top players in the world without a major yet. And Dustin, he's definitely not going to end his career without one. He's too good of a player.

Q. What do you know about Bryson DeChambeau? Have you met him, talked to him? What do you think about his golf philosophy?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I got to spend a bit of time with Bryson. Spent some time together in Abu Dhabi. Spent some time with him in California. Played with him a few times. He's fun to be around. He couldn't be nicer. He's a great kid. Obviously very talented. He's definitely smarter than me when it comes to the stuff that he knows and what he's figured out and how in depth he can go scientifically or mathematically on how a ball is going to break or go in a hole on the green with slope and gravity. I just step up and hit it.
No, he's really cool to be around. He's exciting to watch. Like I said, he's a great player and I know a lot of guys find it very interesting, obviously, the way his equipment is set up. It's different, but he's definitely found a way to make it work.

Q. Dustin and Keegan held a couple clubs today and they weren't very comfortable. Having played with him, you've had the opportunity. Have you ever held one of those irons or tried to swing it with the big grip and the same length shaft?
RICKIE FOWLER: I've looked down at them. I could find a way to put the club on the ball, but they wouldn't work for me. Like I said, obviously he has his own way. He's very talented. He's a great ball‑striker. He's had plenty of success and it's not going to stop any time soon. He's a good player. He can play.

Q. You mentioned how early you are in your career and how many more Masters you hopefully have left. How much pressure do you put on yourself coming into Augusta to get this thing done and win it? I know it's not easy, but do you put extra pressure?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, not necessarily. I definitely look at it as a cool opportunity just to be here and playing in the Masters. It was only a dream as a kid growing up that you'd have a chance to just play in one, have the chance of walking up 18. And yeah, there was the dream of walking up 18 with a big enough lead where you could enjoy the walk and knew that you're going to win. So I guess that would be the last box to check.
I'm very well prepared for this week. With one day left, just want to make sure that I'm rested and ready to play come Thursday morning. And I'm looking forward to enjoying the Par 3 Contest tomorrow. That's always a great kind of fun tradition, keep things light leading into the year's first major.
No extra pressure. It's going to be a finish challenge. It's going to be a fun week.

Q. A lot has happened in the last year with a lot of winning on your part. You really stepped on the gas at THE PLAYERS, you won the Scottish, you won Abu Dhabi, you won Deutsche Bank. Out of all that, which one transformed you the most into the player that you are now sitting up there today?
RICKIE FOWLER: I would say hands down THE PLAYERS, just being in the position where I was a ways out of it. I don't think I was really even on TV coverage. I was sneaky, I snuck my way back in (laughter). That one, I just kind of went at it, there was nothing to lose.
Obviously you know you can pull off all those shots but to do it in a row, when you need to, pretty crazy. And once I got going, just the belief and the confidence and going out there and just making it happen, instead of just trying and seeing if I could get the job done, that was the difference going into the Scottish and Deutsche Bank where I knew what I needed to do and I went out and did it.

Q. How does it make you feel‑‑ Marty Hackel said you're the most influential player in your generation in terms of golf fashion. How much of a kick do you get when you notice all the kids with the flat‑brim PUMA hat? How does it make you feel?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's been really cool. This is my seventh year on the Tour, my sixth Masters. It's been a fun ride so far to see the growth over the years to continually gain more fans and to see the growth of the younger generation and see the interest in the game.
I think what's been fun for me, too, is to see the impact that both Rory and Jordan have had, as well as starting to see more and more of the juniors out there dressing up like them, too. With the guys that we have at the top of the game, you look at Rory and Jordan and Jason, it's fun for me to see that there's some great role models for the younger generation to look up to. I'm definitely honored to be amongst them, and hopefully all of us get to kind of continue to push the game and grow the younger generation golfer for a long time.

Q. Were you always a clothes horse even when you were a kid? Did the new fashions and bright colors always attract you from the time maybe you were riding bikes?
RICKIE FOWLER: I was definitely always non‑traditional in a way. Growing up in the action sports world and growing up riding and racing dirt bikes and BMX, that was kind of my main background. So that was more my influence growing up and not exactly being‑‑ just growing up around a country club or anything like that.

Q. You are by far one of the most popular golfers right now. Do you think that's an inspiration for you to win more tournaments?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, my goals going forward is definitely to win more. I feel like the past ten months or so, I've got off to a good start of that with having four wins. So I definitely want to continue that. I enjoy spending time with the media Sunday night (laughter).

Q. You've had some interesting, friendly practice matches here in the past with Phil and with other friends. Anything like that, any matches you've had today or yesterday or anything tomorrow?
RICKIE FOWLER: We had a match this morning. Jimmy Walker and I played Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka.
The practice matches, I feel like, have been very beneficial when we can kind of put them together, whether it's a major week or any other tournament weeks. I feel like it's a nice way to go out and have a fun match with some buddies, have a good time. You can also kind of get a gage of where the game is at, what you may need to work on. But nothing that's going to hurt anyone. It's good fun.

Q. Who won today?
RICKIE FOWLER: Jimmy and I got it done (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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