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September 27, 2016

Rickie Fowler

Minneapolis, Minnesota

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back, 41st Ryder Cup, I'm pleased to be joined by Mr. Rickie Fowler. Thank you for coming by.

Rickie, your first domestic Ryder Cup. What are your early impressions here? Is the red jumping out at you at all?

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it's nice to be on home soil. It's definitely a good feeling. I was able to play two Walker Cups, one overseas and one on the homeland. There's something to be said about playing a home game.

I'm excited for the opportunity to finally get to do that, and to be back at Hazeltine. I played the 2006 Amateur here. Played well and looking forward to drawing on some good past experience.

JOHN DEVER: Speaking of experience, you did play here in the Amateur, I believe in 2006, and then did you come back last week?

RICKIE FOWLER: I was here, yeah.

JOHN DEVER: So had it changed in what you remembered in your mind to what it is, or was it remarkably similar?

RICKIE FOWLER: It's very similar to how it was. Obviously having the rerouting and playing a different routing of the golf course, but, I mean, the layout being pretty much the same as it has been. Like I said, some good memories from the U.S. Amateur. A little while ago, ten years ago, but no, it was fun to come back.

I think it was definitely beneficial to see the golf course last week, and excited for this week, and like I said, just being able to play one at home, that's got a good feel already.

Q. When were announced as the captain's pick, we saw you owning a mustache, let's say, from a different era, from a different genre. You've shaved it now. You've played around with it. Can you talk a little about facial hair in golf and your view of it?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, it was Justin Thomas and I, we did a playoff 'stache, and the playoffs are over.

I was going to keep it through TOUR Championship, but I had a photo shoot -- not so much the photo shoot, but there was a commercial shoot in there, as well. Photo shoot, it could have been photo shopped out, but the video side of it, it really couldn't be there.

Had to come off a little sooner than I would have liked it to, to be able to support J.T. through the playoffs. But no, it was planning to be gone before this week.

Q. A lot has been made of the task force, which you've been a part of, and just could you articulate what some of the goals of that have been in the last two years and how you believe that can manifest itself, beginning with this week, to go on the positive end for you guys?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it was special to be asked to be a part of. I feel like they brought me on to have a little bit of the younger generation influence; to in a way be a middleman, if there were ideas from some of younger guys or relay information back and forth.

It was a lot of fun to be in the room and see the excitement of the other guys from Phil and Tiger and Davis and Furyk. It was kind of cool just to be a part of those meetings. Sometimes I would just kind of sit back and take in info and put my two cents in here and there, but I think Phil and Tiger took care of a lot of the talking.

But just having a little bit more of a direct connection with the PGA and the players and the captains, and feeling like we have a say; or the players are able to talk about who they may want as a captain or who they may want to lead that week. I think, like I said, that connection from the players and the PGA and growing that relationship, I think seeing a big difference just from the last two years until this year.

I feel like I know everyone at the PGA and it's fun being around them and spending time with them, just because they have shown a great commitment to Team U.S.A. and the Ryder Cup and helping us grow to actually getting to have some fun on Sunday night with the Cup. I haven't been a part of that, so we would like to turn that around.

Q. What was it like this past weekend? I know you weren't playing, but with Bubba playing well and Ryan Moore playing well, what input did you have, and what sort of contributions did you make as you were watching who that last pick might be?
RICKIE FOWLER: There really wasn't a whole lot of talk until Sunday when play was almost finished, really. It was just kind of talking about Bubba and Ryan; obviously Ryan playing really well as of late. We knew that this golf course fit Bubba very well just because of the way he drives the ball.

I mean, obviously it wasn't an easy decision. I would not have liked to have been in Davis's shoes, and it was I think a decision you really couldn't go wrong. Like I said, this golf course suits Bubba very well. Ryan is playing some great golf. And obviously going into The TOUR Championship knowing that he had to put himself in that position, and to play that well on that golf course; I've heard it probably played the toughest it has since it's been there as The TOUR Championship.

He's been impressive. I think he's lowest scoring since from the PGA on. Like I said, you couldn't go wrong either way. And happy that they are both here. I mean, for Bubba to turn around -- I know he basically said, whether you pick me or not, I want to be there. And I know that -- I feel like I would have wanted to be in the same position.

The Ryder Cup is special. It's a special week. Just being a part of it, I know Bubba is already soaking in the vice captain position and he's excited to be here. I know he'd rather be playing, but it's fun having him.

Q. You talked earlier this year about how among the younger guys out on tour, there's almost a friendlier spirit of competition, you always say "good shot" to each other and there's always more talking going on. Does that change this week?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, I mean, it doesn't change for me. I may not be able to talk for everyone, but I don't feel that anyone's acting any differently towards each other, whether it's between team or opposing teams. It's an accomplishment just to be here. I definitely think that in the younger generation, of the guys that I've been around and been a part of, I can't talk about pre-2009, 2010, before I turned pro. But guys like Rory, Jordan, Jason, Justin -- throw Justin there, and on down the line, we're all buddies. We enjoy hanging with each other, practicing with each other. A lot of us practice together when we're back home in Florida. We travel together, so we end up spending quite a bit of time with each other, whether on or off the golf course.

Q. It's got to be one of the most exciting special moments in sport, but when you step out on to that first tee at a Ryder Cup, what's it like?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, there's nothing really to compare it to. I mean, being able to walk the Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics was special. There's nothing that can rival that, but it's completely different walking to the first tee.

I'm supposed to go hit a good tee shot, and it's one of the coolest experiences. Unfortunately, we don't have a full kind of "U" of grandstands around the first tee, but they are right on top of you. It's loud. It's probably one of the cool experiences, probably one of the most nerve-wracking shots you'll hit throughout your career is the first tee shot at a Ryder Cup. Until you've been able to do it and be part of a Ryder Cup, you can't duplicate it.

Q. You spoke about Bubba earlier, but can you elaborate on his decision to come here as a vice captain?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, like I talked about, I think he had mentioned it to Davis before the selections or anything, I think this might have been a week or two ago, I don't know the exact time. But he basically said that whether you pick me or not, I want to be there.

You know, I feel like -- luckily I wasn't in that position, but looking back, this is a week none of us want to miss. Obviously you want to be here as a player. But for him, I think he looks at ultimately, I feel like his dream would be to be a captain down the road, and to having played Ryder Cups to now having a chance to be a vice captain and be here, just having that earpiece in his ear -- he might not be able to last very good with it in there, he said there's a lot of chatter going on. And he said, Man, I didn't know all this went into taking care of all you guys.

It was really cool of him to make that decision to fly up here and be a part of the team this week, you know, after not getting picked. But you know, he knew, all of us knew, guys that didn't make it on points, that it's out of our hands. There's nothing that we can really do other than make more birdies possibly. But picks are picks, and I mean, you look, it's not always nine, 10, 11, 12 that are picked.

I think it shows a lot about who Bubba is. People may not always see that side of him. Bubba's one of my best friends. We've spent a lot of time together. I've always seen that side of him but hopefully this shows some people that that's part of who he is.

Q. How does the mental approach to your game change in an event like this where you have teammates, where you're playing different, versus just attacking the leaderboard or everybody else in the field? And is that maybe the real key to winning a Ryder Cup, to mentally change your game to succeed in this kind of format?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I mean every day is basically like going into the final round of a tournament. You know what you've got to do. You've got to beat the other two guys, or in singles the other guy you're playing against. At the end of the day, it's very simple, take care of business, beat those two or the other one.

It's a lot of fun just because, like I said, it's like going into a final round. You're in contention. Being on that first tee, it's definitely the most nervous pretty much everyone gets all year, easily. And it's like that on every hole. It can be mentally draining. It's not so much a physically draining week, but it mentally drains you. It's like I talked about, it's like being in contention every round you play. So five straight of those and it's going to tear you down, which I'm sure some guys are going to be going all five matches.

I don't think there's any trick to it. Like I said, at the end of the day, you've just got to go beat those other guys.

Q. Since leaving the Presidents Cup, would there be any occasion on any day this year you played for fun a foursomes round, and can you talk about the challenge of that format, how it throws a player's original many off from the norm, and just what are the biggest challenges of it?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I mean, we don't necessarily go play foursomes much. If I go play golf, I want to play the whole golf course. I don't want to skip half the shots. But we do play a lot of practice rounds with buddies throughout the year, and a lot of these guys on the team, I've played a lot of golf with. So you understand their games.

I think one of the biggest things can be the golf ball. But you can kind of take care of that with some guys. If you want to play two balls, and one guy drives the ball that the guy is going to be hitting the iron shot in there from.

The biggest thing is just, I mean, understanding that everyone's going to hit a bad shot. Let's just go figure it out and keep moving forward. I think that that's been one of the biggest things, understanding that -- I mean, I don't care if whoever I'm playing with hits a bad shot. Hey, I want to go impress him and have fun and get him back into play. It's realizing that the other person wants to do that, too. You can't be perfect. It just going out there and fighting together as one.

Q. You weren't in The TOUR Championship, so how do you feel about your game right now? Are you feeling good?
RICKIE FOWLER: I'm feeling better about the game having those two weeks off than I would have if I would have been playing. I would have been more worn out. Up until The TOUR Championship, I was on the road eight out of nine weeks with a couple majors, being down in Rio and then adding Greensboro.

Being able to actually have that week off in the playoffs, as a true week off, versus going home and getting my game ready for TOUR Championship, I was able to go relax, rest, recover and then use the week of TOUR Championship to go practice and get ready to play this week.

I'm rested and ready to go. That was big for me after the summer that we had.

Q. It seems like as the years go on, the Ryder Cup gets bigger and bigger with both sides having young talent coming up. Is that something the players feel, as well?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, on our side, I think we just have the one rookie. The European side has a couple. It's always cool to see new guys getting to play in the Ryder Cup. I was there in 2010. It's a special week being able to just share the stories of past Ryder Cups. I'm starting to get some stories, but guys like Phil and Furyk and Tiger, they have been a part of so many, and handing down these stories; it's kind of -- it's, I guess, odd being in the position where I get to welcome someone to the Ryder Cup team that is their first one and I'm finally getting to play my third.

It's not just the golf but everything else around it. It's awesome, and love seeing some younger guys come in. And I think we're going to see a lot more the next coming years.

JOHN DEVER: Rickie Fowler, thank you for your time and enjoy your week. We'll see you on Sunday.

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