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March 18, 2017

Rickie Fowler

Orlando, Florida

Q. 2-over par, 12 shots off the lead. Double bogeyed the third hole. Ultimately ended up shooting 65. What changed for you when you got to the 4th tee?
RICKIE FOWLER: Nothing, really, I swung it well during warm-up this morning and knew the swing was kind of coming back to where it has been. Just kind of slightly tugged one on 3 and it didn't cut. Ultimately ended up in the water, so 3-putted for double there. But made some great swings to start the round, just kind of had to get past that and knew there was birdie holes coming up with 4, 5, 6, and plenty more when you kind of get going on the first part of the back nine. So stayed patient and got a few to roll in and made some good swings.

Q. There certainly were plenty of birdies as we take you through some of the highlights. You're 2-under par after the 11. This your third and the pants rolled up.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I wanted to try and keep the green pants clean. Really unfortunate that didn't go in, perfect shot. I was just glad to get it out. I wanted to just get a look for 4 and nice to have a kick in for 4 there.

Q. You made your par at 11. You birdie 12. Now for another at 13.
RICKIE FOWLER: 13, just had to trust the read, it was left edge, stayed very straight and just kind of just turned right at the end. You saw Rory's putt just before and it just snuck left on him. But perfect, another one here, just had to keep the speed up, just drifts left at the end. Went right in the middle.

Q. That birdie on 15 gets you to 5-under. Then at the short par-5 16th, as you get things cruising, this your second.
RICKIE FOWLER: I wouldn't say this was my cleanest strike, it was a bit heavy and I was just hoping for it to cover. It was a good swing though, it was on line, so at least we had that. So, with it being a little heavy, a little bit of release and perfect spot for a 3 there.

Q. So with that indifferent, but successful approach shot, this for eagle.
RICKIE FOWLER: This is a putt you kind of have to be cautious with. It gets pretty quick at the hole. I didn't want it running by and I wanted to try and play the break, so that's why it was dying and just snuck in the front.

Q. So home with 65. Back in this tournament. But in the bigger picture what has this week meant to you to come back to this event?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's been a special week. From showing up Tuesday night going up and signing some of the stuff they had set aside in Arnie's office and sitting in his chair and spending a couple minutes there where he used to spend days signing stuff for fans, and to be here it's very different not having him around, but I feel like viewing and the fans out, it's just going to continue to get bigger and this could potentially be the biggest week I think they could have here, just with the excitement of the tournament and kind of the celebration of Arnie's life.

Q. That is the round of the week. Highlighted by an interesting 4 and 11 as well.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, that's, that got the back nine going a little bit. I made birdie on 10, which was nice to kind of get going after making double on 3. But, yeah, bad swing on 11. Hit it a little heavy and knew it was in the water. Got lucky that it kind of stayed in the shallow there, which I think you've seen plenty of guys try and play it from down there. Just wanted to make sure we got it out. Did a little bit better than expected and with a kick in par and move on from there and make some birdies coming in. It was nice.

Q. It was exceptional to watch coming in. Again, now put yourself back in this golf tournament. That being said, this afternoon what are the leaders going to face? Are there some hole locations interesting out there? Generally, what are these guys looking at this afternoon?
RICKIE FOWLER: Just with this golf course, you really have to take advantage of the par-5s, to score. That's really the one of the places that this course gives you a chance to be aggressive and get something out of it. Some of the par-4s you get wedges in, 10, 13. But this golf course I think has three of the hardest starting holes. Getting off to a good start here is key. I didn't do the best of job with that with the double on 3, but no, there's a few opportunities for birdies, like I said, take care of the par-5s, throw in a couple bonuses on the 4s and I would take four 3s on the par-3s here all day.

Q. The shot on 5, can you believe you almost made birdie on 5 after where you were. That's got to be --

Q. Number 5 on the front nine. Weren't you on the water on 5?

Q. 11. So what that was earlier then?

Q. But overall did you take confidence from a round like that like considering just the conditions today?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it's, this golf course is in great shape right now as far as you got to play out of the fairway, the rough's very penal. Greens are firm and fast, which is, it's fun to play on, just because it makes it even more of a fine line. Yeah, to have start out making double on 3, I felt good warming up this morning with the swing and knew it had the potential to be a good day. Didn't exactly feel that way after the 3, but I got it going and came back with two birdies right after that and then the up-and-down at 11 definitely kept the round going and gave me kind of a little boost going into the next few holes, knowing that I had reachable par-5 and a wedge in my hand on the following hole and I was able to get two more there.

16's kind of a bonus making 3 there.

But it would be perfect, two perfect shots on 18, driver and a 9-iron and would have been nice to cap it off with one more, but I'm definitely happy with 65.

Q. You said you're feeling good about yourself when you hit the course today. When you were walking off 3 green how were you feeling?
RICKIE FOWLER: I still felt good. I had all the par-5s in front of me, some wedges on par-4s, just had to kind of play, not a perfect round, but just hit my spots and don't make any serious mistakes.

11 could have been turned into a 5 or 6 pretty quickly and I got a little bit of a break there and, like I said, that kind of kept me going and I was able to take advantage of that. So, no, I felt good, I made great swings, I made a really good swing on 2. I hit it in there close on the par-3, almost made the putt for 2. But just had to kind of put that behind me and keep going.

Q. At what point during a round like this do you get the sense that you're going to be able to do what you did?
RICKIE FOWLER: I made great putt for par on 7. Just to kind of keep things going there, too.

Then 11 was nice to dodge possibly giving away one or two there. So, from there I knew I had the par-5 in front of me and short par-4 and then 16, which really is like a par-4. If you hit it in the fairway you got a mid iron in. And 4's like making par there.

So I knew I had some birdies after that and nice to take advantage of a couple of those opportunities and the 3 on 16, like I said, was kind of a bonus.

Q. You mentioned 16, you remember in 2013 you were close, playing with Tiger, to winning this event. How key is that hole down the stretch on a Sunday to try to win this event?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, depending upon where you're at and what you need to make, it definitely is a position where you can make 3 pretty easily, but you can make 6 there pretty easily, too. Like I said, if you drive it in the fairway, it's a par-4. Everyone in the field can reach the green. I think tomorrow's going to be top right, so everyone, it's not tucked or anything, everyone will have a chance to potentially get one or a look there for a 3. So the big thing, not just with that hole but the rest of this golf course is driving the ball in the fairway.

Q. Just walk through that shot on 11. What you were thinking when you got to the ball and what you were trying to do?
RICKIE FOWLER: It was kind of sitting half in, half out. So not too bad. Play it like a bunker shot. The lie wasn't perfect, it was kind of sitting in a little bit of a trough in the sand, so I just had to make sure I kind of stayed somewhat steep on it to make sure it was down and the ball was coming up. I didn't want the club to bounce off the sand and ultimately kind of blade it or hit it into the hill. So, I don't know, it came out nice, maybe a little too fast, I would have liked it to have hit the pin with a little slower speed, so it's a little unfortunate that didn't go in, but no, I'll take 4 there every day, whether I hit it there, fairway, hit it close, 4 on 11's a good score.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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