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April 8, 2017

Rickie Fowler

Augusta, Georgia

MODERATOR: Welcome Rickie Fowler. Rickie carded a 1‑under par 71 today. He birdied holes 2, 8, 13 and 15. Rickie is 5‑under par for the tournament, one shot behind the leaders.
Rickie, how are you feeling about heading into tomorrow?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it. This is by far the best I've felt in a major. It's going to be a good time, and I think if pairings work out properly, it will be Jordan and I going out and having some fun.

Q. Does that change your approach or just the feeling out there tomorrow, getting to go out with somebody you consider a friend, knowing you'll both be chasing the leaders?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think it's a really good thing. Him and I could potentially get off to a good start and we could really push each other. We'll try and pull the best out of one another. It's always fun when you're playing with one of your good buddies.

Q. There's a lot of traffic up there on the leaderboard. Does that make it any easier or harder for tomorrow? Maybe it's easier because you almost have to be aggressive because there's so many guys with a chance.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, you still have to be patient. You can't really try and get too much out of this golf course. But with that being said, even when you're playing conservative lines, you still have to execute. You know, you can put yourself in bad positions even trying to play to the safe spot.
With it being fairly crowded, a handful of guys being within a few shots of the lead, I think it's going to be tough for someone to really run and distance themselves too much, with the possibilities of what you can do on the back nine.
I think getting off to a solid start and making sure you're not putting yourself too far behind, where you can't make that run on the back nine if you need to, but being in the right position to go put a solid nine holes of golf in on that back nine here, taking advantage of 13 and 15, if you can.
No, I think it's going to be a long, hard‑fought day. Like I said, I don't think anyone is going to put themselves far enough out front where they can cruise in.

Q. When you say it's the best you've felt in a major, are you talking about just particularly this week or just in general as a philosophy?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, just this week how I feel physically, mentally. From how my game feels, how I feel just about life; I feel great on the golf course. It feels like I'm right where I'm supposed to be. It doesn't feel out of place.
Yeah, I get nervous on some shots out there. You get nervous on the first tee. But I'm settling into rounds very well. I'm thinking clearly. I'm not rushing. Just it feels good out there.

Q. As opposed to, can you name a major where you might have been in contention but didn't really feel like this?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, as good as I feel now, all of them before haven't felt this good. There is somewhat of a learning curve as far as the more you play, the more comfortable you do feel. It's something where I've continued to feel more and more comfortable here at Augusta and I feel like that really started maybe three or four years ago. But this is definitely a different position now.

Q. You talk about your maturity as a player, you've reached a point in time where these situations feel more natural to you or a more comfortable environment, but you just referenced Augusta. How much have you learned about this golf course over the last four or five years? Which do you think is the greater factor, you think, tomorrow: Your familiarity with how to play this course or your comfort level being in this environment?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think it's a combination of both. Being comfortable in the environment is great, but also you throw on top of that how comfortable I feel around the golf course, knowing how I'm supposed to play it.
I talked about it a little earlier; that even if you've taken, smarter conservative lines, you still have to execute golf shots. It doesn't matter where I'm aiming or what I'm trying to do; if I hit a bad swing, it's still not going to end up in great spot most likely.
But being around this golf course, playing it‑‑ now this is my seventh year here, and getting to play with guys that have played multiple times here, from Phil to‑‑ I've played with Jeff Knox a couple months ago, leading up to this Masters. The more times you're around here, the more comfortable you get. And even when you get into the tournament, you know what to expect. You know where to play. You know where you can miss it and how to get yourself out of certain situations.

Q. You don't have to sleep on the lead tonight but given your proximity to the lead and the notables at the top of the leaderboard, do you feel the pressure is basically still the same?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, like I said, I feel good about everything. The game feels good. I haven't swung my best this week, or as good as I have the past few weeks. But I know we can pull out our best stuff tomorrow.
You know, short game's been good. Putting's been nice. Making good par saves. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm excited about it.

Q. Is this the hardest you've worked in your professional career?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I can definitely say that. With the time that we've put in, really since last, kind of starting after last season. In October, November, putting the time through what we kind of call our off‑season; there's not really an off‑season. But the time that I spent in the gym with my trainers, Craig and Troy; to the specific times that I get with Butch, whether it's in Vegas or the Floridian or last week when he came to Houston, we were at Lochinvar for a couple of days. Then I'll go see his son, Claude, up at the Floridian every once in awhile.
Just kind of always heading the right direction, not going too long without seeing Butch or Claude to where I'm getting too far away from where I'm supposed to be at; and putting the time in the gym and making sure I'm healthy and in a great spot. We've put a lot of work in, and it's nice to see it pay off.

Q. Was that because of last year or anything else?
RICKIE FOWLER: Obviously last year it would have been nice to play better. I got off to a nice start winning in Abu Dhabi, and you know, didn't play the way I wanted to. I mean, it wasn't a great year. Yet it was great that I got to be on three different teams for the U.S., from the Olympics to The Ryder Cup and the World Cup. But individually, it wasn't what I would have liked.
So we're seeing if we can make up for that now.

Q. All week, Rickie, you've been speaking positively, words like fun; keep returning. How much fun are you having out here? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much fun?
RICKIE FOWLER: 11 and a half. No, this is a special place. I love any chance I get to come here. Even when we're playing in tough conditions Thursday, Friday. It's just a fun golf course to play. It's so different depending on where the pins are at or what the wind is doing or what the conditions are.
And like I was talking about, when you do take some‑‑ whether it's a conservative line or somewhat of a safe play, you still have to execute the golf shot. There's no time where you can go to sleep and just cruise. This golf course can jump up and bite you at any time. So I like that about it. We've been having a blast this week.
MODERATOR: Thank you, and very best wishes for tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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