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February 1, 2018

Rickie Fowler

Scottsdale, Arizona

Q. When someone shoots 5-under tend to talk about the birdies or eagle. But I want to you can at that about the par saves, particularly at 7 and No. 9. That 8-footer at 7 I know the hole didn't go the way you wanted to off the tee but just talk about it from there on in.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I caught it a little heavy. We were hitting 7-iron in there, really just trying to cover the front ridge. It's a tough par-3 with the green sitting up, it's firm, so flat hole and it's on the back edge of the green. So caught it a little heavy. Pretty simple chip in a way and I was trying to drive it a little bit more through the slope and you don't want to hit it past the hole, you don't want to mess with a downhiller there, so I wasn't far off, but tricky little putt with a lot of break early and it flattens out, so just hit a good one there. Nice to kind of keep the momentum going and carry on from there and birdie 8 and after a little squirrely drive on 9, ended up in a good spot that I was able to still have a swing and a shot at the green and made it a little easier on myself with a 2-putt par on the last. I actually hit a pretty good putt, if I would have hit it a little harder it would have went in, but nice to get off to a good start here.

Q. Talk about this tournament and what a win here this week would mean to you. Do you feel like there's unfinished business?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, we have been close here a number of times and I love playing here and the Thunderbirds have been great to me, it's nice that we have great weather this week, there's going to be some good golf for the fans and, yeah, I'm looking forward to, especially after missing the cut last week, it wasn't really much off and ended up missing by one, so it would be nice to get ourselves in contention and see if we can be the last one standing on Sunday.

Q. Couple of nice putts, how did you put together an opening round 66 today?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, let's see, there was a bogey, an eagle, a few birdies, and that adds up to 66. No, I knew going out this morning early when it was cold for a few holes on the back nine it can jump up and get you if you're not careful and I feel like we eased into the round nicely. Hit a great little 5-wood into the par-5 15th and made eagle there and kind of got things going. Turned in 3-under and took it to the front, which plays a little bit tougher. I think we did a good job of saving a couple pars and a good birdie on 8 and I rolled in a long one on 4. So a good solid start, looking forward to the rest of the week.

Q. Excellent start of the get some comments on your opening round.
RICKIE FOWLER: Just solid day. I think some good and bad all around. Managed the mistakes properly, made some good putts, so just nice to get off to a good start here. Looking forward to getting kind of back in the mix after not being around for the weekend last week and off to a good start. Obviously you can't win it the first couple days, but you can obviously take your self out of it.

Q. Can you talk more about Griffin. When did you meet him, are you going to wear that all week long, and what did he mean to you out here?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, planning on wearing this or something to, in memory of him. I met him, I can't remember if it was five or six years ago here, so he would have been, he was probably two or three at the time. So he kind of cruised around, his parents would kind of push him around and I think we have seen kind of like from a stroller to buggy to all kinds of things. But he was just a huge fan of the game, I was lucky to have him as -- I claim him as being my No. 1 fan, so he had a special place with me and Joe, we looked forward to seeing him and the family every week out here at the tournament every year. So it's unfortunate that we don't have him here this week because he was fun to see.

Q. What goes through your head when you know how much he's been through with the surgeries and yet he was still able to follow nearly every round and send you guys messages on Twitter and texts and stuff. What goes through your head when you think about that?
RICKIE FOWLER: It just makes you appreciate the position that a lot of us are in. Even if it I hit a bad shot out there the past years you would look over and see him he was just pumped and excited to be out there watching us. And it just puts things into perspective. He could care less if I played well or bad, he was always supporting us. Obviously he wanted to see me play well, if anything, but no, like I said, just kind of humbles you, grounds you a bit, and makes you realize that there's a lot bigger things than just playing golf.

Q. When is the last time you saw him? Last year?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, that would have been the last time.

Q. Is there any sense of unfinished business with this event specifically, given the close calls you've had in recent years?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, after the first couple years here I just figured it was a matter of time before I was the last one standing on Sunday. We have given ourselves some pretty good chances. Losing to Hideki two years ago in the playoff. It's just a matter of time, I know I can win here and sometimes you just got to be in the right place at the right time or not get a bad kick on 17, but we're going to get one.

Q. How does it feel to be back here in Phoenix and just the atmosphere and the crowd support and there's nothing really like it?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it's a special tournament. The Thunderbirds have been great to me, they gave me a spot here whatever year, it would have been 10 years ago now, I guess, so this is a special tournament to me, I love the atmosphere, especially the kind of closing stretch, 16, 17 and 18, yeah, there's really not another tournament like it.

Q. Is there a mindset you're in playing early today and not too many adult beverages being served yet and tomorrow will be comparatively different?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I think tomorrow may drown, the more sound may drown some people out. There was actually some rowdy fans this morning on 16. And I may be somewhat of a fan favorite, but they weren't holding back. I was a little disappointed in some of the stuff that was said and I don't want much negativity -- the normal boos for missing a green, that's fine, but leave the heckling to a minimum and make it fun, support the guys out playing and, no, it will be good. Like I said, tomorrow's definitely going to be louder, Saturday afternoon's a beauty, but yeah, just hit better shots there, you'll have more fun.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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