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February 26, 2017
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
DOUG MILNE: Rickie Fowler, congratulations on your fourth career PGA TOUR victory, and second in the State of Florida.
With the win, you are projected inside the Top-10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, inside Top-10 FedExCup standings and convincing way to get the job done this week and with that, I'll turn it over to you on comments on doing just that.
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, it's nice to hear the Top-10. I don't think I've ever been this high, FedExCup, early in the year. It's definitely nice after -- we don't get to play a lot of stuff through the fall really.
I had China, which almost doesn't even count, it's a whole other country, for FedExCup points until I played in San Diego and missed the cut. It's crazy to see how far back you get. It's not fun to see that number.
So I'm excited to be up there in the Top-10 and be back in the Top-10 in the world. I could feel this play coming, and I played well in Phoenix and kind of been just trying to dial some things in in the gym, on the golf course and practicing at home with Butch.
To be in the position I was after 54 holes here, give myself that cushion, allowed for a tough day today. With the wind, there weren't a whole lot of low scores. I think there were some early on. Some guys made some good moves. But other than that, like I said, I gave myself enough cushion where I could kind of get away a bad nine, which I started with, and then lucky enough, the putter saved me at times and gave me that cushion I needed on 12 and 13, and made a great swing into 16.
Really, it was just get it to the house from there. I wish I wouldn't have made the bad swing I did on 17. It really wasn't as bad as it looked. I mean, wind is just pumping out of the left and just hung it up there in the wind right a little bit.
But still had enough going to 18. No, this is great. It's going to be fun celebrating tonight and friends and family.
Q. You said earlier in the week that you needed to start closing out these opportunities. Did you need this win today?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I'm a lot happier and tonight's going to be a lot more fun, being that we have this.
You know, if I wouldn't have pulled it off today, it would have been a learning experience. I did put together three great rounds of golf to start the tournament, and you know, tomorrow would have been Monday and I still would have been at Seminole going to play.
It's special to be able to pull it off, and it wasn't the prettiest of ways to do it, but this isn't an easy golf course and this wasn't an easy day to go play golf on. Just had to fight through it. Mistakes were going to happen. Bad swings were always going to happen. You can't play a perfect round of golf.
Just had to kind of keep moving forward, just try and get the most out of the round. You know, missing the putt on 9, I felt like that would have been nice to still have a good lead going to the back. But like I said, the putter did save me with some long birdie putts. Tonight will definitely be fun.
Q. How important is it in the bigger picture going to Augusta to have a win under your belt, like you did last year in Abu Dhabi?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think this will be better just because I played okay in Abu Dhabi to start the year, but looking back, I played decent in China. I played decent at Tiger's event. I had a good week in Phoenix. I had the two weeks off. Was able to get some time in the gym and a little bit of time with Butch. But putting some good testing, some good work in, and to ultimately come here and play better than I did in Phoenix.
So things are heading the right direction, trending the right way, and looking forward to a new place next week in MÃ©xico, and then just kind of really trying to prep and make sure we're still heading the right direction going into Augusta.
Q. I understand you're playing in the Seminole Pro-Member tomorrow again and I'm wondering where does that rank for you, like some people joke, it's the fifth major, so what makes it so special and what would a fourth title at that event make -- mean to you?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I'm glad you mentioned that. My buddy and I have won it three times. It's a great event.
For me, I look at THE PLAYERS as a pretty good event and I put that up there. So THE PLAYERS Championship is pretty special.
But the Seminole Pro-Member, it's a great day. A lot of pros, obviously, show up. It's fun. It's kind of fun but serious, but everyone acts like they are just having a good time but they are being very serious.
For me, it's a special day because I had a day there a few years back that I'll never forget. I got to play with the King. So I got to go 18 holes with Arnie. So yeah, Seminole is always going to be special for that reason.
Q. What would a fourth title at that event mean?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't care anymore. I got to play with Arnie, fourth title, cool. But that was a special day.
Q. You said yesterday, your ball-striking was probably the worst compared to the first two days. I wonder, today, how did it rate and how satisfying was it when you'd have a bad hole and then you kind of come right back?
RICKIE FOWLER: I would say today was somewhat similar to yesterday, maybe a little worse. But it's just some of the bad shots or bad swings are just so exaggerated by the wind, that it may look a lot worse than what it was.
This golf course, without wind, it only gives you a little bit of wiggle room. Once there is wind and it starts to play a lot tougher, if you miss your window, just by a degree it seems like, good luck.
So you've got to be pretty on point. And luckily, I was enough but there was definitely some areas that were a little off. It could have been a little bit more of I guess a simpler round. We decided to throw some bogeys and a double in there.
But I'm happy about the week. Just being able to piece it together, getting off to a great start, just playing some consistent golf really minimizing mistakes and then on a day like today, it's very tough to avoid mistakes on this kind of golf course with the wind.
Q. At the Hero, you were reflecting on 2016. You talked about how you didn't always convert those putts that kind of kept momentum going or gave you momentum. So how big were those putts today on the back nine and in general how did it feel to really get the putter going this week?
RICKIE FOWLER: It was nice. I was able to do it in Scottsdale, as well. I was able to make some good putts and really started on my first hole on Thursday there, 10, I hit it in the bunker in two. Hit it to about ten feet behind the hole, and I just told myself, I said, really focus. Just try and make the best stroke possible, good speed. I actually started the round off making that and then making about a 20-footer for par on the next after Jordan holed one from the back of the green, and then got up-and-down out of the bunker on 12.
Stuff like that, just completely changes rounds of golf. And like today, making the putt on 8, it gives me the -- not that you want to make bogey on 9, but you don't feel as bad when you make birdie and then make a bogey.
Then 12 and 13, those were bonuses. Outside of 15, 20 feet, and you're just trying to really just match speed and line and get it close. It happens to hit the hole and go in, great.
It's nice to be on some greens I'm comfortable on; seeing the ball rolling how I'm wanting it to, and seeing what I was envisioning the ball doing and seeing it actually do that. Definitely between Scottsdale and here, have gained a lot of confidence on the greens. Now it just hitting fairways and greens and we'll go from there.
Q. After your last win, you said it would take a major to join Jason, Rory and Jordan, a year later, throwing in Dustin and Hideki, where do you see yourself in that group?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, I still need to put myself in position, be consistent and win some more golf tournaments. Obviously seeing what Hideki was doing end of last year, start of this year; even Justin Thomas going on a run; Dustin's always been an impressive player. I mean, what is it, ten years now, he's won on TOUR every year at least once. And obviously Rory, Jordan, Jason; I'll try and sneak in the back end right now.
But I want to continue to play well and I want to be, whether I'm talked about with those guys or not, I just want to play the best that I can and keep pushing myself and ultimately just keep trying to put myself in position to win and start collecting more of these.
Q. What changed front nine to back nine, because you seemed to drive it a lot better on the back nine, and you had to know guys were getting close, but when it you actually see a board or how did you know close people got to you on the back nine?
RICKIE FOWLER: I guess the closest I saw it was maybe when it got to two or so. I tried not to pay too much attention. I just knew that I need to focus on just get the ball in the fairway, hit greens and just keep moving forward.
You know, it was going to be tough for guys to make birdies once we got later in the round, just because how much the wind picked up. And so yeah, I made a nice swing off 10 tee. Not the best swing on 11, but it turned out, you know, kind of how we wanted it to, and just kind of kept moving forward from there.
I think 14, was one of my best swings, just kind of the situation. It was dead off the left. It's blowing pretty good. It's a short hole but if you don't hit the fairway, it's kind of just a tough green to hit, even with a wedge, and was able to just hit a good one at the left bunkers and let it drift back with the wind. That was a big swing for me.
Q. During the telecast, Johnny Miller discussed the notion that you still need to learn how to close events like a champion regarding some of the miscues during the round. Wonder what your reaction was to that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I started with a four-shot lead and I still won by four, so I didn't play great. It wasn't a pretty round. But we got the job done. A win's a win.
Q. You're now part of a group of young players who have started off 2017 with victories so far. Just wanted to get your thoughts on what this kind of means for the game and how does it set the tone going forward?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's great. We talked about it for a few years now, and the game is in a great spot. A lot of young players, a lot of great players playing well, a lot of young players winning. It's fun seeing it. It's motivating seeing my friends go win.
And to have them texting me last night and wishing me the best, telling me to go get it done, it's a fun group to be a part of because we all are trying to push each other to be the best players that we can be. We love seeing each other play well, and we love beating each other when search at their best.
I know there's a handful of guys that aren't here; some guys either take this week off, Rory being hurt. But still, like I said, it's motivating when I see them play well. It makes me want to go out and do that.
So it's going to be fun. It's going to be a fun year. I know there is a lot of guys playing well. Looking forward to having Rory back out and see if we can get Tiger back going. He texted me last night, as well, and told me to go get it done. Like I said, it's great to have the backing of my peers. Like I said, it's motivating to see them play well, as well.
Q. Living here as you do and as difficult as this golf course is, is it one that you would ever come and play on a recreational basis?
RICKIE FOWLER: Actually we don't make it over here a whole lot just because of how busy it is. A lot of times when we play, we like to play under three or 3 1/2 hours. And I know they do get a lot of play here, because it is a place that a lot of people try and come and play.
But I did come here two weeks ago now, Sunday, the week before this event. Came and played with some of my buddies that are part of the Gardens cops down here. We had some fun. They showed me where to hit it and some places where not to hit it. But I told them, that was a valuable practice round. About you that was actually the only time I think I've played since last year.
Q. Have you ever been to the Nicklaus Course in North Palm Beach, the municipal course there?
RICKIE FOWLER: I have not. We don't get to play a whole lot of courses just outside of a little rotation. We are not home a lot, so we really don't venture very much. I mean, I play Medalist, Bear's Club, go up to Floridian a bit, Tequesta Country Club and maybe a handful of others. We're never really home for more than a week or two. So there's not much venturing outside of those.
Q. Curious what role The Ryder Cup played in terms of your confidence. You obviously played well there, big win with Phil and Rosey and so forth. What role did maybe your performance that week kind of relate to this week in some way, if at all?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, I know I always do; I know other players, always look back to tournaments I've won or Ryder Cup experience. Just because every match you play in The Ryder Cup, it's like being in the final round.
Thinking back to the match that Phil and I had, you know, probably some of the most pressure I've been under. I know Phil was under the gun, as well, just with everything leading up to this last year's Ryder Cup. And to be able to be there and see him hit the shots when he needed to and to be able to hit the shots for him; alternate-shot is such a fun dynamic just because of what it is and the atmosphere of The Ryder Cup.
Being in that position, the swing I made on 17, hitting it in there close, and we ultimately go on to win our first match. For me, getting our first point, and that point being huge for Phil; that kind of gave me some confidence swing-wise going forward. Freed up the rest of that week. Finally got a point on the board. Ultimately went on from there. Had a decent fall and it's kind of motivated a bit, as well as like I talked about, seeing other buddies play well. Led to playing well in Phoenix and then these two weeks off and winning here.
Q. You said that Tiger texted you last night. Did you get any other support from, say, Jason or Jordan or any other players who weren't here?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't want to go down a list too much. I don't want to single anyone out. Rory did text me, Jordan obviously, Justin who was out on 18 green. It's great to have the support of guys that I have either looked up to, enjoy watching, love seeing them play well, and I want to see those guys play well. And we all want to beat each other when everyone is at their best.
So you know, like I was talking about earlier, looking forward to having Rory back. Hopefully that's this coming week. And then Jordan, I think we'll see him next week obviously. It's a lot of fun. We've got a great group of guys. I think there was -- I had a bunch of texts. I didn't get back to everything and there's more. I still feel it going off, which is a good thing. We'll deal with that later.
Definitely I'm happy and pleased to be in the position I'm in, and with the amount of great, young talent we have right now.
Q. I was talking to Claude a little bit after the win, and he thought the way in which you won, where you had a lead and gave a piece of it back, and then had to kind of battle on that back nine, you'll learn a lot more than winning by ten. Would you agree with that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, well, I would much rather have just won by ten. But for sure, being out there, getting off to a good start was great, and then gave some back. Now you've got to fight and figure it out and move forward. You know, kind of being put up against the wall, okay, you either play golf now or you're not taking the trophy home.
I knew what I needed to do. You know, I turned and saw that it was either two or three shots. It's nine holes of golf; I needed to make it as simple as possible, go hit fairways and greens, no unforced errors. I felt like we did a pretty good job of that until just coming out of the shot on 17. But luckily we had enough cushion at that point.
Q. What was more important or more meaningful about you winning today: The fact that you had gone longer than you wanted to without a win, or the fact that you had a four-shot lead and closed it out?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I guess finally closing out a 54-hole lead.
Q. On this tour.
RICKIE FOWLER: On this tour. It was very similar to the win I had in Abu Dhabi where I had a lead. I gave myself a cushion, gave some back and then had to fight back and ultimately play well on the back nine. Easier conditions when I played over there. This is a bit different, finer lines on the golf course and some wind involved.
Being out front and getting the job done, especially with giving some back and having to fight back with it.
Q. Is it strange not to go to Doral from here, considering for years? Realizing this wasn't your schedule, but the TOUR from California to here to Mexico City, how hard is that in general terms for golfers?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I mean, it was always nice to be here at home. I would typically play Seminole, stay at home Monday night and then just drive down Tuesday. Maybe practice a little bit, play nine holes. Play nine or 18 on Wednesday and just play the tournament and drive home after.
It's a little different flight. But I feel like the TOUR and the tournaments have done a great job. They have a charter going down tonight and a charter going down tomorrow afternoon, as well, so they are making sure that we have -- with the Pro-Member tomorrow at Seminole there will be some guys flying down tonight, some tomorrow and there's a charter coming back, as well.
It is a little longer travel to get there, and for guys that if they played possibly L.A. to here and then are going back down there to MÃ©xico, yeah, it's a bit of travel. But I also started the year in Abu Dhabi and flew to San Diego, so that's kind of hard to beat. Travel is what we do. I mean, the game is definitely worldwide. There's a lot of guys that play both here on the TOUR, play some events on The European Tour. Some guys are dual members. Traveling is just part of what we do.
DOUG MILNE: Rickie, congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports