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August 9, 2018

Rickie Fowler

St. Louis, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, welcome to the 100th PGA Championship Bellerive Country Club. Pleased to be joined by Mr. Rickie Fowler who posted an opening round 65. That round included six birdies, just a single bogey. Rickie, that was the lowest of your 31 career rounds in the PGA Championship. So it was noteworthy. Seemed like you -- and you started on the back nine -- but your first nine was pretty steady and then you kind of warmed up likely with the temperatures. Is that how it happened.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I actually feel like I got off to a pretty good start, I just didn't really make much in the first few holes and I hit it close on 14, missed a short one on 15 for another birdie. Made a bogey. And kind of got things back going, I got a wedge in there on 17 to make birdie. So it was nice to make the turn. I did have a lip out on 18 as well. So I had enough looks to know that I could kind of make up for that bogey that we did make on 16. Nice to play just a solid kind of clean stress free front nine.

THE MODERATOR: Would you label the golf course as gettable or what did you see out there, what are the difficult aspect that the rest of the field's experiencing right now this afternoon.

RICKIE FOWLER: If you hit fairways and greens it's not hard. But it is playing fairly long and you kind of have to pick and choose which holes you kind of maybe play aggressive on, hit driver, take on some of the corners or bunkers and where you lay back. You start driving it in the rough and missing greens, start scrambling, I feel like that's where kind of the bogeys come. I hit the wrong club on 16 and luckily ended up kind of paying the price and making bogey there. But I feel like this golf course, it's fairly generous off the tee, you can definitely play back on some areas to where it's maybe a little bit wider, but the big thing is definitely hitting fairways and greens out here. And especially this afternoon, because the greens I'm sure will start to get a little beat up as it's soft out there and it's something that we'll deal with tomorrow afternoon as well.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Good playing. Just was wondering if you could speak to your friendship with Jarrod Lyle and your decision to at least change your scripting overnight to the yellow today.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I was scripted to wear some sort of dark blue shirt, so luckily I had a version of yellowish. Yeah, it was tough news yesterday. So definitely happy that we could be here and supporting Jarrod. It's been a tough few weeks, especially talking with guys that were also close with Jarrod. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to him last Friday, so one thing that did help is hearing kind of from him how he felt. He sounded like he was in a good spot. Obviously that's not something that's easy to deal with. And it's been fun to be thinking about him while we're out there playing because he would probably be the one to kind of kick you in the butt if you started feeling sad or bad, he would kind of give you a hard time and tell to you man up or something along those lines. Maybe not those same words. So it's been enjoyable celebrating his life and we'll continue to do that.

Q. How important was it to come back with the birdie on 17 after your one bogey?
RICKIE FOWLER: It was definitely nice. I had a good look there and a good look on 18. So it wasn't necessarily that I needed to make the one on 17, but it's always you feel like you're losing half a shot or so when you make pars on par-5s. So I knew I wasn't, it wasn't going to be my last look, I knew we were going to get plenty more, but like I said, when you do make a birdie on a par-5, you feel like you're gaining that half a shot. But when you make par you feel like you're losing a bit to the field.

Q. When you look at your rounds last week, you had two great rounds, but two not so great rounds. What did you feel like was in your game at that point that you were able to take into this week?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well those, I mean, last week it's, I would say it's one of the hardest driving courses we play all year, some of the smallest fairways, especially once they firm up. I didn't scramble very well last week when I did get into trouble. I didn't necessarily get the ball up-and-down where I should have. I should have never made a double last week and did that. So I think this week especially like with what our game plan is and kind of swinging within ourself and making sure we're not trying to do anything extra special out there, just playing very simple golf and this golf course I feel like you don't have to hit it overly long by any means, I'm not necessarily short by any means as well, but the biggest thing is hitting as many fairways and greens as possible and I feel like we did a really good job of just staying within ourselves today and we need to continue to do that throughout the week.

Q. When you look at your history in the Majors, all the times you've come close, where does this year's Masters rank as far as the amount of time maybe it took you to get over it and move on?
RICKIE FOWLER: It really didn't take, as far as -- it wasn't something that I needed to get over, it was definitely a great week, I left everything out there on the golf course so it wasn't necessarily like, oh, man, what if I would have hit this shot instead of this shot. The back nine I executed nearly perfect. After I birdied 12, I really thought I could birdie in. And maybe looking back is, why didn't I birdie everything coming in. But I hit the shots that I wanted to and needed to, the only one really being 16 where I hit it in the bunker I ended up getting up-and-down. But the swings that I made, I left everything out there. Sometimes things just don't go your way. I still haven't seen any of the highlights or watched anything back from, I think what Jordan told me was Patrick had a long putt on 17 from off the green, it hit the pin to kind of stay on the green type of thing. Saying that's a good break or not, don't know. Like I said, I haven't seen it. Sometimes that's something you need to get just over the hump to get the job done that week. Like I said, I executed the way I wanted to, I actually thought I made a better swing and hit one closer on 17 than I did on 18 and it just caught the false front and came back. If that one flies a yard further, maybe there's a different outcome.

Q. Similar kind of question but from the opposite end. You've been in contention in Majors frequently. You've been at this for awhile now. You shoot a 64 in the opening round of a Major, how excited do you get about that or how do you look at that as you go forward?
RICKIE FOWLER: I would have liked 64, but I shot 65, so. 6-under would have been good, too. No, I'm definitely happy but Thursday you can't go win the golf tournament, you can definitely take yourself out of it and lose it, so we took care of what we needed to take care of today and we move on to Friday and go do what we need to go do tomorrow.

Q. Along those lines was there sort of I don't want to say extra importance but given the course conditions and how soft it is and sort of how aggressive you can be toward it, was there any added importance of getting off to that quicker start this week?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think we would all look at the course and see what the soft conditions it was going to play maybe easier than what you would typically see a PGA Championship play, but still a Major venue. It's going to play longer, you're not necessarily having a bunch of wedges in, and I think that one of the things I did a good job of and what maybe helping this week and what we'll stick to is not trying to overpower it or not try and get that extra, just get the ball in the fairway and I've always been a good mid iron and long iron player, so you get me in the fairway and with the soft greens, I feel like we can pick apart the golf course and as long as we continue to play smart and within ourselves. So now it's all can you do is get off to a good start Thursday and we did that.

Q. Are you aware of how many Majors it took Phil Mickelson to win a Major and Ben Crenshaw and if so does that inspire you and give you hope?
RICKIE FOWLER: I always have hope. I know Phil didn't win until his 30s. I don't know the exact numbers, but it's not something I necessarily worry about. Keep putting ourselves in position, get in contention, we have had plenty of runner-ups, Jack had a lot of runner-ups, we'll just keep beating down that door.

Q. Along those lines a little bit because you've done so many good and right things in these Majors with those runners up and getting so close and you referred to Augusta, executing a game plan. Are there times when you sit back and wonder to yourself, when is my time going to come and if not, or if you do or whatever, how do you or how do you try to avoid that, do you put that out of your mind, that kind of thing?
RICKIE FOWLER: You can't force the issue and it's kind of, it relates to some of our game plan and how we're going about this week as far as just trying to play within ourselves and not do anything extra special. I don't have to play special to win. Like I said, wear out fairway, wear out greens, and keep it as stress free as possible and keep picking apart this golf course. Something we did well for two days last week and something we didn't do well two days last week. Yeah, I'm glad this is a new week, I'm looking forward to the days to come and like I mentioned a few times, really all we can do is take care of each day. It sounds cliche, hole by hole, shot by shot, but Thursday you can check the success box and move on to Friday.

Q. Jordan Spieth spoke about flying under the radar coming into this tournament. Could you speak to that from your own point of view and how does that work potentially as a benefit going into such a high profile tournament potentially?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't necessarily think that, you don't really look at guys maybe Top-20, Top-30 in the world that really fly under the radar. I still think everyone's aware and maybe there's more guys getting some more attention, guys like JT winning last week, Tiger gets plenty of attention no matter how he's playing, but he deserves that. Guys like Dustin, No. 1 in the world. So like I said, as players we're very aware of the top players in the world, which guys are playing well, and I don't necessarily look at it as flying under the radar, but I would think that there's a lot of guys that would love to be in the position of getting the attention because that means that you've been playing well and winning tournaments.

Q. Looking at stats coming into this and looking at players or their profile, on this golf course one was three putt avoidance and that's been a good number for you on the year. Given the size of the greens, given the less than ideal conditions, you always want to avoid 3-putts, but is that even more important perhaps on this golf course?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think so. These greens are fairly sectioned off. There's a decent amount of slope, there's some pretty big tiers and you start getting in the wrong positions there's going to be some tough 2-putts, especially when you get into the afternoon, as I mentioned earlier, with the soft conditions, the greens not that they're in bad shape, they're just on the softer side, so they're going to get beat up and chewed up with the amount of traffic we'll get today and tomorrow. So I would say that the 3-putt avoidance will be even more important when you look at the afternoon rounds.

Q. Can you discuss the galleries for you here today. It seemed like it was like a home game for you the way they were responding. I know part of it is because you're a great player and playing well but also maybe your love of Cardinal baseball. Could you express a couple thoughts on both those.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I mean this is the first time we have really played near St. Louis. I feel like a great following with people having some ties to Oklahoma State somehow, I feel like there's a kind of Midwest connection and definitely being a Cardinals fan and supporter, it's great to be here and feel the love. So St. Louis has been great. We're going to try and keep the fans heated up and on our side, but it's definitely been a fun ride so far.

Q. What was your best shot today and which shot would you like to have back?
RICKIE FOWLER: Best and worst, or have back. I'm going to take my best just I had a rough lie on my last hole out of the fairway bunker, it was just nice to just get 8-iron on the green. Hit a good putt, almost made three to finish off the round. One shot to have back, the one bogey I made, just ended up hitting the wrong club on 16, so giving a shot away there.

Q. What's it like playing off this zoysia grass and walking on this zoysia grass, you guys don't see it very much.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, we don't see it much, but I'm definitely enjoying it. I may have more rounds than most on it. Our home course at Oklahoma State was Zoysia and always kind of on the softer side. We would get similar weather to here throughout the year. So it's fun to be back on Zoysia, like I said, I've got quite a few rounds on it and definitely feel comfortable here this week.

Q. Are you aware that it requires much less water than other grasses?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I mean it definitely requires less but we have gotten plenty that it doesn't need, so it's definitely soft out there. We had a lot of standing water the last couple days, at least we didn't have that today. But, no, like I said I've had plenty of round on it and it's a grass that I enjoy playing, but, yeah, it is one that you probably don't see a whole lot as a golfer.

Q. Of all your many fine rounds in the Majors over the years, where would you rank today's and what specifically pleased you most about it?
RICKIE FOWLER: It was a solid round. I don't necessarily know how great it was compared to some of the rounds when we have been in tough conditions. One of my best rounds that I played was my rookie year my first Open Championship I went out and shot 67 to make the cut on the number at St. Andrews and it was blowing sideways. The 68 I shot at St. George's there. So today was great, but it wasn't like we had any adverse crazy conditions or anything like that, it was a hardly any breeze, soft conditions, but it was definitely nice to go out and execute and keep it as stress free as possible.

Q. (No Microphone.)
RICKIE FOWLER: Today keeping it as stress free as it was. Hitting it, didn't miss many fairways at all, missed two greens, one of them was on the fringe, so it was just a good tee to green solid ball striking day which you pray to have that for four days.

Q. JT is the only Ryder Cup rookie in the Top-8 right now. How much time have you and some of the other vets spent with maybe some of the other potential rookies like Xander or Tony or Bryson?
RICKIE FOWLER: They're guys we see week-in and week-out, play some practice rounds together. I haven't spent a whole lot of time with those guys, I mean Bryson and I, we're around each other quite a bit from practicing to doing some Puma stuff together. Obviously all great players. Bryson's been playing well. Tony's an impressive golfer, ball-striker, and you look at Xander, obviously the finish he had coming up through last year's FedExCup. So it will be interesting to see how everything kind of plays out and how the picks for the team wind up working out as well.

THE MODERATOR: Rickie, thank you very much good luck tomorrow afternoon.


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