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February 26, 2020

Rickie Fowler

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

DOUG MILNE: Rickie, 2017 Honda Classic champion, tied for second last year, obviously some good memories of the place. Just some thoughts on being back at PGA National.

RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, like you said, we've had success here. I love this golf course. I feel like it's very demanding of the game, not always hitting driver, but you've got to get the ball in play, and very much a second-shot golf course once you do get it in the fairway.

Typically we've got some wind, which for me I enjoy playing in, especially living down in this area. I've been in Jupiter for about 11 years now, and looks like we're going to have a little cooler week than normal. We've got a front coming in later today. Yeah, a little cooler, a little different wind than we're used to seeing here at this golf course. But throw some sweaters on in the morning and go play. Everyone has got to go play the same course and same weather.

Q. How are you feeling about your game coming into the week?
RICKIE FOWLER: I'm excited. I've had three weeks -- well, off of tournament golf, but I wouldn't say I've had three weeks off. A few workdays in there and I've been putting in a lot of time in the gym, on the course, but it's been nice to have been at home sleeping in my own bed for three weeks, and like I say, getting good work in. So I'm looking forward to getting started back here at Honda, and as of right now, we're looking at playing six out of the next seven weeks.

Q. Is there an element of comfort for you at this golf course, or do we just perceive that because we know you live here and we're so used to seeing you here?
RICKIE FOWLER: I mean, I've had a lot of good tournament golf played on this golf course, going back to junior golf actually. I've always been comfortable here.

At the same time, it is challenging. I've had plenty of mishaps. It happens around this place. It's bound to happen. You're going to make bad swings, and sometimes they happen at the wrong time.

No, I enjoy what this golf course kind of brings to the table and what it demands of you as a player, and then like I said, with the wind typically being up, you've got to hit some shots and control your golf ball around here.

Q. Does it ever become exhausting, you can't help but see how many little ones are dressed like Rickie and they just love you and they want to meet you and get your autograph? Does it ever just become exhausting to see them all out there? Do you want to make them all happy if you know what I mean?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, it's obviously a great position that I'm in. No, I mean, it makes your day better, if anything, to see the support and see what kind of impact that I'm able to have on people at times. I try and make that be a good impact.

But no, I'm kind of blessed to be in this position, so to be coming from when I was young, looking up to guys who played the TOUR or to riding, racing dirt bikes, something I did growing up, to now being in a position where I'm the person that kids are looking up to, it's a cool position to be in.

It can take some time here and there to sign autographs and whatnot. Unfortunately I've tried it; you can't please everyone. So there's some people that take that better than others, so that's one of the downfalls that sometimes we have to deal with as far as trying to make people happy, but at the same time accepting that you can't take care of everyone because we'd be sitting out here signing all day sometimes.

Q. Do you know what the phenomenon is that has them gravitate towards you, like dress exactly like you and want to be you?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't know. To be honest, it's not that -- we didn't try and do anything different or out of the ordinary as far as for who I am. I feel like kids are really good at picking apart if someone is genuine or not, seeing if they're fake or for real, and I feel like I've always -- as far as me knowing and the people that I've grown up with from friends and family, I am who I am. This is who I've been growing up to playing junior golf, college golf, and on TOUR.

I'd like to say I haven't changed. We'll go to them for confirmation, but I think that may be one thing that kids can pick up on and they see, as well, in J.T., Jordan, Rory, and guys across the board.

Q. A year ago you were top 10, you're 25th now or something like that. You said you spent three weeks working on your game. Is that the reason, the drop? What were you working on?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yes and no. I mean, I took all fall off. We got married, honeymoon. I wanted to make sure that I was able to do that right and enjoy it. Yeah, I didn't play as great through maybe the kind of spring and summer last year, but also with the time off, that's been not out playing and not earning points, so that's been part of falling back.

No, it's been a very, I think, beneficial time off. Yes, I've fallen back in World Rankings. A lot of that's just due to not having played, and now we're jumping back on the horse right now, and we'll climb our way back up to top 10 and go from there.

Q. With your OSU connection, do you have a good relationship with Viktor? I'm curious, watching some of these kids come right out and win, what's your impression of that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I have good relationships with both Matt and Viktor. I probably know Matt a little bit more, him living down here now. But Viktor I've spent a decent amount of time with. They're both great kids. I say kids because they're 10, 11 years younger than I am. But it's been fun to watch. They're two great players. I feel like in a way they play kind of two different kinds of golf, two different swings, but they're good at what they do.

I don't think that especially now and especially you look at Collin Morikawa, these kids are another step above where myself and some other guys coming out of college were just because I feel like the talent level and competition keeps getting better and better. They're just more and more prepared to come out here and compete.

Q. I'm sure you saw or heard Rory's comments on the proposed golf league.

Q. Where he said that he wouldn't be interested, basically, said he didn't think it would work --
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, yeah, I heard something on that, but I also heard that the transcript was kind of -- the one thing was taken out of what was really said, if you read the whole transcript, versus just the one line.

Q. My question is what were your thoughts on it?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't really have a stance yet. I need to gather some more information and see where we're at with all that, but it sounds like some of that stuff moving forward -- but yeah, I don't have enough information to take sides or comment on it a whole lot.

Q. You live here, you've had success here, you're coming back after a few weeks off. Do you feel like you have a course advantage here?
RICKIE FOWLER: Not necessarily. You know, playing this golf course, I play it once a year. I've played well here, but there's also a lot of other guys that have played well here, Brooks being -- staying at home, as well. Him and I both finished second last year. No, I don't necessarily look at it as a home course advantage. Some guys like sleeping in their own bed and take that as an advantage. There's some guys that aren't playing this week, just because it's a little odd playing at home maybe for them. I enjoy it. Like I said, I've played well here. I look at this as it is a nice week to be at home, be comfortable, and it is a golf course where if you have a little bit more confidence on it, having played well, it definitely helps.

Q. Just talking about comparing your first couple years on TOUR to the player you are now, what do you remember about those first few years? What were your biggest challenges?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think the biggest challenges were always just time management and learning how the TOUR works, week in and week out, how many weeks you can play in a row, how to go about your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, how to get ready for if you're teeing off early Thursday or if you're playing late Thursday, when to eat, how to eat, when to work out, how to get worked on, stretched, and how to get your body right. There's a lot of stuff that goes into it. One of the biggest things the first couple years is learning golf courses. You're playing all new places that you really haven't been before. So there's a lot on your plate. It's not easy to do, but good golf always answers a lot of questions.

Q. Do you think that's understood or not understood, that it takes all those things?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think golf at the highest level or PGA TOUR golf where you're traveling and playing for a living, I think to me as a whole is very much misunderstood as far as what goes into it. It's not just the glamorous life it teeing it up Thursday and finishing Sunday afternoon.

Q. (Indiscernible).
RICKIE FOWLER: Those are just the basics. There's a lot that goes into it, and like I said, it's learning how to manage everything, when to do it, how to do it. Like I said, figuring out how many weeks in a row you want to play. If you do play three, four, five weeks in a row, which I don't play more than three, then is it one week off or two weeks off, then you add in workdays as far as shoots with sponsors, whether they're still or commercial stuff. I do about 25 to 30 days a year, so those obviously aren't in a row. You've got to pick and choose are those Monday and Tuesday when you get back from a tournament or mid-week, or if you're fitting them into one week off, it kind of interrupts your preparation or your rest, so then you have to take two weeks off to fit shoot days in. So there's a lot that goes into just picking which tournaments you want to play.

Q. You've had a couple weeks off and a busy upcoming schedule. What are some keys for you to get into that competitive form not just for this week but with THE PLAYERS and Augusta not too far away?
RICKIE FOWLER: Just keeping it simple. You know, working on stuff at home, at Grove, Medalist, Turtle Creek, playing, being in the gym. The big thing coming out here is we've been working on that, don't try and go work on stuff on the golf course, go play golf; keep it simple. Sounds cliché, fairways and greens, but some days it's a lot easier than others. But that's the biggest thing is go out and play golf and go score, not try and think about what you're doing with the swing. Go with one or two swing thoughts. So the more simple I can keep it the next seven weeks, that seventh week we'll be in a really good spot at Augusta.

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