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June 13, 2019

Rickie Fowler

Pebble Beach, California

MIKE TROSTEL: Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to welcome Rickie Fowler here into the Media Center. 5-under 66 today. 13 fairways, 15 greens. 28 putts. Could you assess your play? It seemed pretty stress fee out there.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it was very stress free. I mean, you still feel I guess uncomfortable or kind of the lines are very tight and you're still trying to execute, and I think that was a big thing, is we've -- you never feel just in cruise control at a major, and especially a U.S. Open.

But the execution was very good today. I thought I only missed two greens, but maybe there was a third. So, yeah, it was a good driving day. 13 fairways, like you said, the one I missed I was in the first cut.

So it was -- it felt like the worst I could have shot. So that's a good thing. I'm happy with the start. You can't go out and win it up the first day, but you can obviously put yourself in a good position or take yourself out of it and you're having to fight back. So just happy with sticking to the game plan and executing the shots.

Q. Let's run through the scorecard. Par on 1 and birdie 2, one of the toughest holes out there?
RICKIE FOWLER: I saw the board early and saw Piercy was 1-under through 2, I believe, after seeing that he was even. So I saw he birdied 2, and I thought that was basically going to be a skin. And Bobby Brown, one of the caddies in our group, after I made mine, skin, Joe said nope, Scott already birdied it. So that's a bonus there, getting a 3 at 2. And it was nice to kind of get the round going.

MIKE TROSTEL: You get another bird on 4.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, it's kind of an option hole. We've been sticking to laying up to a full sand wedge or gap wedge, depending on where it gets to. But had a great sand wedge number and took advantage of it.

MIKE TROSTEL: 3-under with the birdie on the short par-3, 7.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, 7, hit my number, I thought the ball would drift more left with the breeze off the ocean. It didn't, so we're ten feet, pin-high, and made a nice putt there.

MIKE TROSTEL: Bogey 9 but come back with a birdie on 11.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, some guys are hitting drivers there. I elected to pretty much go 3-wood or potentially 5-wood depending on wind. Just keep myself up the left side. I hit a great tee shot there and set up a nice gap wedge where I was able to get to the right pin there.

MIKE TROSTEL: Par-5, 14, tough spot. But walked away with 4.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, hit a great drive. Have a lot of room there, and took advantage of that. Had a 4-iron in. And it plugged in the face of the bunker, but luckily there's not too much sand up there. Got it out to a reasonable distance, and I think I played that putt around six or seven inches outside the hole, and it was nice to see one do what I thought it was going to do.

MIKE TROSTEL: A beautiful approach on 15.

RICKIE FOWLER: 15, the approach in there, I tried to hit it kind of 145 shot, 9-iron, I guess it was about 150. Probably one of my better swings of the day. I was trying to start in the middle of the green, did just that, and wanted to have it drift, tried to cut it a little bit so it would drift to the right hole location and basically float right on the number where we're trying to. And not an easy putt. I had to play it almost a cup out. It was probably six or seven feet. It's good.

MIKE TROSTEL: That was it for the birdies. But a nice par save on 17.

RICKIE FOWLER: 17 is typically one of the harder holes out there with the back left pins, and pretty much playing straight back into the wind with a 4-iron. And really just playing for that front left section of that green. I didn't miss my target by a whole lot. You have to hit it left of that hole.

So those left pins I'd take it in that bunker almost every day. It wasn't, like I said, very far off where we were. And relied on the bunker play to get that one up there and make 3.

Q. How much does all these experiences in majors, does it help? Does it matter that all these have come in majors? Or is it just another weekend on the golf course?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, it makes it to where the -- the experience makes it to where these feel like another weekend at a tournament. Without having as many rounds in majors, they still feel a little -- can feel a little overwhelming. There's a lot going on. It's a lot bigger venue, there's a lot of people out. It's a big production.

Yeah, I'm definitely at a point where this is another weekend on the course, competing against the best players in the world. And this is what we love to do.

I would say definitely over the last few years, '14 and -- '14 was a big step in the right direction. But the last few years it's been how it's supposed to feel, when you want to go out and contend and get the job done.

Q. Just on that, it was a little while ago you were on TV with Jack and you mentioned how major weeks are just another week for you. And he said that's a bit silly, I treated them differently as majors. Have you sort of changed your thinking over time, or have you adjusted it, have you got to a point where you try to take it up a notch?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think Jack and I were kind of talking basically about the same thing. It's not that I treat them the same, but ultimately I want to prepare and -- not necessarily go about them the same as any other event, that's definitely not the case, but I want to feel the same as I do at another TOUR event.

I know they're bigger events. These are the events that we mark on the calendar and you want to peak for and you want to be ready for.

Yes, we look at them differently. I look at them differently. But when it comes to teeing it up on Thursday, I want to feel as I do Thursday at another TOUR event. So to do that I think, yes, there's more preparation that goes in. But I think we're kind of saying the same thing, just came off a little differently.

Q. Clearly you're feeling comfortable after what you've done today. How do you keep yourself level over these next three days, knowing that you have already put yourself in position to do it?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, the big thing today with -- ball-striking is going to be hard to get better than it was. There were a couple of spots where it could, not hit a first cut and hit a couple more greens.

But I think continuing to just go through the process before actually hitting the ball. I think I did a really good job of thinking through everything and being detailed. If I had any worry, I backed off or made sure I went through the process again.

And that gets more and more important, especially when you get to Saturday, Sunday, and things start to speed up. I think that's been something that I've done a good job over the last few years and have learned from past experiences, things can start to move quickly, and making sure that we stay kind of the same pace that we were today because when it does come to Saturday, Sunday, you get in contention, you get a little amped up and you start to move a little too quickly. If you're walking fast, it kind of falls into your swing and different stuff like that.

So the more I can stay at the same pace, breathing the same. You start walking fast, you start breathing a bit more. It's a lot easier said than done. It seems pretty simple. I'm looking forward to a great start today, and I love what we're able to accomplish. It would be nice to see if we can top that, if not just keeping matching it.

Q. Question about Butch and Claude III. How are they similar and how are they different up?
RICKIE FOWLER: They are very similar. I would say kind of the big difference, CH3 is a little bit more new school and maybe understanding and using some technology, which is very old school. I would say -- Butch has, I think, taught Claude a lot through the years, and Claude, I would say, has been sometimes, from observing, learned a lot from Butch.

But Butch has an incredible eye. I think that both of them understand that it's not just one swing for everyone. And I think Claude learning that probably from Butch over the years, you look at the guys that Butch has worked with, no one really looks similar. Everyone has kind of got their own thing. And Butch realizes that guys have their own tendencies, and you work around that or play to their strengths.

So when I started working with Butch, there was a lot of times that Claude was around, so now that Butch isn't traveling much at all or hardly at all, Claude was around to see what we were working on, what we were doing and trying to accomplish.

So that's where they're similar. They work well -- they see the same things. Like I say, I think Claude knows a little bit more on the technology side as far as TrackMan and video, and I think a lot of times we just used video and V1 or shooting video back and forth when I was with Butch.

But seeing the two of them work together the times that I've been able to do that is pretty cool, because you have a little bit of new school and old school.

Q. You said down below something about stress-free round today. Have you ever played a U.S. Open stress free before?
RICKIE FOWLER: I would say probably a couple of rounds at Pinehurst. It was a really good ball-striking week there, as well. Nothing near this. This is probably one of my better ball-striking rounds, just from 1 to 18. Not really many hiccups.

Like I said, on 9 I was in the right first cut, which the whole fairway slopes right. And then I thought I'd hit the shot how I wanted to, and it came up two yards short of the green in the first cut there. So it's probably one of the better rounds I've played in a major.

Q. Is there some significance to your haircut? Understand there is a charitable aspect to it?
RICKIE FOWLER: A little bit. Dufner and I -- it was Dufner's idea, so you can blame him. A friend of ours was -- stopped by the house, and he's got a couple of sons that play hockey and lacrosse, and they've got better hair than we do. And Dufner got inspired to do a mullet, and so I said I'd go alongside and do it with him.

We're doing it for the PGA in May. We're calling it Mullet May. And we weren't doing it to, you know, get any extra attention or anything like that. It was for fun. And obviously we're not trying to look a good with it, it's just a fun thing. And I just thought it was a good way to, when asked about it, talk about our foundations.

A couple of weeks prior to the PGA, stopped up in Auburn and played in Duf's charity event where they feed kids throughout the year in Auburn. And I thought crazy hair, I mean, being involved with Jarrod Lyle over the year and wearing Leuk the Duck, the crazy hair kind of goes against the kids and the people that have to end up losing their hair through chemo and dealing with that. So I've got plenty of hair for Jarrod up here, at least out the back. And that's a big focus on my foundation.

It's been fun. I got it cleaned up this week. Like I said, we're just having a good time with it and not necessarily trying to look good.

Q. Rickie, at the Masters last year after you finished the way you did, you said: I'm ready to go win a major. And that was the first week you truly understood that feeling. I'm wondering how much that experience changed your approach in majors and maybe enhanced your belief in yourself that you'll break through sooner rather than later?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, that was a big week. I mean, obviously before I'd been in contention and been close and been around and had opportunities before, but to really kind of take the opportunity head-on and -- that back nine, the way I executed there was similar to today, except today was all 18 holes.

You don't have to do anything special in majors. It's just being disciplined and executing the shot that -- that's at hand and what you're trying to do. Not second-guessing when there is a second thought, kind of regathering, kind of going back through it.

So, yeah, that back nine there was very big, especially this year, as well. I had a chance to make a bit of a run, tried to. I had a couple of putts slide by, a couple of missed shots.

But, no, it's been a fun run. And I think it's been a long road to get to the point where majors felt like another week, because they are bigger. They're majors. There's a lot going on. But, no, it's time to soak it all up and have some fun.

Q. Just picking up on that theme, you've had so many high place finishes at the majors over the years. Given the weight of expectation around you, how do you manage to not put too much pressure on yourself, to break that majors duck, if you like?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, the expectations and the pressure on myself, that I put on myself is a lot more than what's coming from the outside. So, yeah, I mean, I'd love to get a major. It would be awesome if it was this week. We're off to a good start. We've got a lot of work to do.

I said earlier in the week that whether I win a major or I don't in my career, it's not something that's going to define me. There's a lot of other things that I'd love to be remembered by, work off the golf course and making a difference and changing people's lives. It would be nice to have a major on the résumé. We'll see what we can do.

MIKE TROSTEL: Great day today. Best of luck the rest of the week.

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