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May 16, 2019

Rickie Fowler

Farmingdale, New York

RICKIE FOWLER: Not a great start. Probably one of the hardest starts in golf almost when you have to start on 10 here at Bethpage. 10, 500 out of the gate. 11 is a little shorter, but if you miss the fairway like I did, it makes it tough, and then 12 is another one that's almost 500 yards.

It's one you just have to accept and go try and figure it out. Unfortunately I started with double, but I thought we did a good job of accepting that. I thought I hit good putts to potentially make bogey there, but put that behind us and got to work.

From there on in, just kind of kept trying to move forward and try and avoid the rough for the most part. We had a couple that got a little wayward, but other than that, I feel like we played pretty solid after we got through the first, so I'm happy with the work today. Could have went the wrong direction, but took care of business.

Q. What do you do mentally to get through that, clear your head after that start?
RICKIE FOWLER: Accept it. I mean, it is one of the hardest holes out there. It's not an easy start in the morning. I got out of position with the drive and drew a bad lie in the bunker. You just accept it. You're not going to get any shots back. A lot of people say, you'll go get it back. No, it's a 6 on the card and it's staying there. Try and start piecing swing after swing together and try and build some momentum, and I did a great job of 12. Getting the ball in the fairway was huge. Unfortunately I didn't make a good swing into the green. But kept kind of getting the body warmed up and going and moving forward from there.

It's very rewarding when you can come back from a bad start.

Q. Did you have trouble with the pace on the greens? Did they speed up a little, or was it more your own --
RICKIE FOWLER: Actually I had good pace all day. The only one I had that got away from me was the one on the last, on 9, which I hit a little harder than I intended to, and then the greens were starting to dry out a little bit more. But on the hole previous, I thought the putt was going to be a little faster, and on the other side of it, that one was slow, and 9 is a little bit more dried out and baked. So that one seemed like it was quite a bit faster.

So that was the only one that tripped me up. For the most part I felt like if anything I was on the shoulder side of the hole, so I felt like I could be aggressive, and then flip-flopped there on 9.

No, I felt very comfortable on the greens. Hit a lot of good putts, good speed, and made some good ones.

Q. (Indiscernible) do you feel like those are the kind of rounds that give you a chance to win the tournament?
RICKIE FOWLER: Definitely. You know, I look back at when I won THE PLAYERS in '15, Saturday I didn't really have a great round going, just found a way to salvage the most I could out of it. If I don't do that, then I don't have a chance to do what I did on Sunday. You're rarely going to go put together four good rounds of golf. There's probably going to be one day where things aren't going well. You kind of hope -- I mean, it would be awesome if you could have three good rounds of golf. That doesn't always happen. But four is really unheard of. It doesn't happen very often. You may look at Tiger at Pebble when he won by a lot. But for the most part you're going to have at least a round where it's not going great and you have to just find ways to salvage the most that you can because the difference in a 70, 71 and a 74, 75, that can be a tournament.

Q. Do you feel like 10 would have unfurled differently if it had been your 10th hole and not your first? How difficult is it to come out and face that first drive?
RICKIE FOWLER: It wasn't as cool today as it had been the last couple days, but any time you have a 500-yard par-4, they're not ones you look forward to, especially when it's your first hole of the day. 10 is a lot easier as the 10th hole. You know where your game stands. You know where your misses are at and how you're driving the ball.

So I'm hoping that leads me to hitting the fairway tomorrow. But I think you can look at it either way. You can say you're going to make a good swing the first one out of the gate. You can be in a bad spot after playing nine holes and not driving it well, and then you're in a worse spot. I would prefer it to be the 10th hole, and like I said, you know where you're at. But regardless, 10, you kind of just want to make 4 and walk away.

Q. What's your reaction when you get to a major and you see Brooks' name up top?
RICKIE FOWLER: He's pretty darned good at majors. I think over the last couple years, it's something that everyone has gotten used to. He's done a good job of stepping up and playing well at majors. So like I said, it's no surprise, and this golf course, it does suit him well. He's a good driver of the golf ball.

So I would expect him to play well here. But there's a lot of good players playing this week, and it's just the first day. But getting off to a good or decent start means a lot going into tomorrow and into the weekend.

Q. When you see that one guy has a 63, does that put some internal pressure on all the other top players?
RICKIE FOWLER: Not necessarily. I mean, it's one day. Really Thursday and Friday you're just trying to get off and rolling. The tournament cannot be won on Thursday and Friday. But you can put yourself in a hole and then you can also give yourself some cushion for the weekend.

But there's a lot of golf to be played. First and foremost, Thursday, anything in red was good today. Anything around par. This is a hard golf course. So you just don't want to move backwards. That was one thing I was happy about today, starting off with 6 and just salvaging what we could out of today.

Q. Come Sunday, how close do you think you have to be to Brooks to have a reasonable chance?
RICKIE FOWLER: What makes you think he's going to be leading? I would say there's no lead really safe here. You start hitting it sideways or you get out of position, things can go different ways quickly. I mean, you can make bogeys and doubles out here very quickly. I don't think anything is safe.

Q. If you needed to, do you think you have a 63 in you?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yes. I mean, 67, 66 pretty easily today if I don't start with 6. But obviously that's great golf today. I don't think anyone has -- no one has come close to that yet. But it's the start. I'm sure Brooks is happy about it. We both work with Claude, and we're going to go keep moving forward, and I'm just happy starting with double to turn that into a red number today, I'm happy with that. So we'll go look at that 63 and see if we can chase down Brooks and have some fun.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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