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November 11, 2009

Rickie Fowler


MARK STEVENS: Okay. I'd like to welcome Rickie Fowler to the interview room. Rickie is playing in his third tournament, PGA TOUR tournament as a professional, finished T7 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners, lost in a playoff at Frys.com, and he has in all eight rounds as a professional he's shot in the 60s and has earned 553,700 so far this season. Rickie, if you'd start off just talking a little bit about the course. I think you've been out playing it. And your thoughts coming into this week, and obviously what you need to do to reach your goals for next season.
RICKIE FOWLER: The course is in great shape. The weather looks like it's supposed to be perfect starting tomorrow through Sunday, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.
You know, I think what it's going to come down to, I think I have to finish around the Top 10, so I'm just going to go into the week like I did at Vegas and Scottsdale and see how it works out.
MARK STEVENS: Thank you. Questions.

Q. Coming into the PGA TOUR, you were playing at a certain level. Since you've gotten on the Tour, do you feel that you're playing at the same level, you're playing at a higher level, you're playing at a little lower level?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't think it's changed really. You know, I got a lot of sponsor exemptions. I played in quite a few PGA TOUR tournaments, Nationwides and two U.S. Opens, so I got plenty of opportunities to play against these guys. And you know, I don't think really anything's changed. I've just been a little more consistent and staying away from making as many mistakes. But game wise, still the same. Just you know, put some good weeks together.

Q. And when you say staying away from mistakes, is that related more to golf course management than strategy, learning things about hitting away from trouble or is it something related to your swing where you might swing a little easier or something? How do you stay away from mistakes?
RICKIE FOWLER: More on the management side. And mentally, just making sure I'm fully committed to more shots than at times I would be, you know, 90, 95% committed instead of making sure I was fully committed.

Q. Are you 100% prepared, ready, expecting to go to Q-School or do you allow yourself to think just a little, you know, I might be able to avoid it?
RICKIE FOWLER: I'll just kind of, you know, see what happens this week. You know, like I said, if I finish Top 10, we don't have to go, and then if not, we're going to Q-School.
So you know, I'm not really expecting to go either way. Just kind of seeing how the week plays out.

Q. Do you have an image that's formed of the trials and tribulations of Q-School? I mean there's been a thousand stories. Every year there's a disaster or something that you hear. Do you have a visualization of what it's going to be?
RICKIE FOWLER: Six rounds of golf. You know, it's a long week, and it's really just, you have to stay consistent and mentally make it through the six rounds.
I feel like my game's good enough to where if I just go out and kind of do my thing and stay away from the big mistakes and keep the ball in front of me, I should be fine. But you know, there's always the little things that can happen. But hopefully we won't have to mess with that.

Q. Have you surprised yourself at all these couple tournaments with Top 10 finishes? I mean obviously it's not supposed to be this easy, and a lot of guys have not found it to be, but in your case, have you surprised yourself?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yes and no. I knew I could come out and play with these guys. But to come out for two events and finish tied for 7th, and lose in a playoff, you know, I definitely wasn't expecting to do that.
But you know, like I said earlier, I'm not doing anything special. It's not like my game's all of a sudden elevated to come crazy level or anything. You know, I'm just playing my game, and I've put together some pretty good rounds and been able to save myself at times.
And you know, I talked about I got a lot of playing experience playing with these guys throughout the last two years. So it's not like I wasn't ready or was inexperienced in the PGA TOUR tournaments.
So again, it was a surprise to come out and make enough money to get through the First and hopefully Second Stage of Q-School, but wasn't fully surprised that I was able to play well out here.

Q. Obviously you didn't really give yourself a lot of chances here as a pro, and then you lose one. Is there any second thoughts about that now being this close, or are you okay with obviously remaining amateur as long as you did and giving yourself this smaller window?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I definitely wanted to wait around for the Walker Cup again, to play here in the States, and you know, I'm glad that I did. And to go 4 and 0 and be able to share the win with two of my fellow teammates from Okie State, and then to come out, and I've made a pretty good run at it and to give myself one more shot this week, and if not, you know, worst case, final stage, which a month ago if you said that I would have made over half a million and I'd get straight to final stage, I'd run with it.

Q. Rickie, you're gaining some measure of fame and recognition now? Could you share with us what that's been like? Has there been any odd experience where you were recognized someplace that you wouldn't have expected or had some experience that you wouldn't have had, people wouldn't have known who you are?
RICKIE FOWLER: Not yet. I'm feeling possibly depending on how this week goes maybe, and then into next year, stuff like that may start to pop up, but nothing recently.
And you know, it's pretty cool to have the people following me and people interested in following me, and you know, I'm just trying to set a good example for the younger kids coming up because I know I was in their shoes not too long ago, and I looked up to a lot of the good young players, and I'm just trying to do my part.

Q. I was told you're a big fan of Scotty Cameron. You collect a lot. I'm just curious to see what your collection is like and your relationship with Scotty.
RICKIE FOWLER: Scotty and I are pretty close. He actually my second start as a pro at Soboba, I had him in my Pro-Am group, so I've gotten to know Scotty pretty well over the last six years that I have been with Titleist, and the collection has grown pretty good. I probably have five of the putters that I'm putting with right now on backup, and then I've got a decent collection at home of ones that I've picked up over the years at the studio.

Q. Also, your middle name being Yutaka, and I read your grandfather being Japanese, I'm just curious to see if you can expand your -- I don't know if you've been to Japan, your favorite Japanese, anything related to Japan.
RICKIE FOWLER: I've only been to Japan once. I love Tokyo. I didn't get to spend much time there, but I would definitely like to go back, and possibly play some golf over there and spend some time over there.
Love Japanese food, love sushi, you know, that whole background with my grandpa being Japanese, he didn't really push it on me, but I learned it pretty well, and he's the one that started me with golf, so I was around him quite a bit as a kid.

Q. Was there a golf tournament when you were in Japan?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah. I went over there with the AJGA. They took four guys and I think three girls over there. So we got to spend about a week over there.

Q. Can you just talk about strides you've made in your game in the last year, like what areas of your game are better now than say 12 months ago?
RICKIE FOWLER: I wouldn't really say too much. I've tightened up a few things. But I'd say it's more of just I'm getting committed to shots, not making as many loose swings, and then kind of keeping the ball in front of me a little bit better, which is kind of staying away from mistakes and staying committed.
Before, I would, you know, push the limits a little bit much where, you know, all it would take is a little bunt driver and a 7-iron and get a look at birdie, instead of trying to blast a driver and hit 9-iron. So you know, I've gotten smarter in the head, and like I said, just kind of staying committed to shots and not second-guessing myself.

Q. Have there been any adjustments you've had to make in terms of just living life on TOUR? I know it's only been a few weeks, but travel, doing things more on your own, you know, finding your way around. Has that at all been any different than what you've gone through before obviously as a college golfer?
RICKIE FOWLER: Not too much. The only thing that I've really had to get used to is, you know, traveling every week, and I got used to that a little bit during the summer, doing amateur golf. You'd go on, you know, three, four-week runs, but -- and then trying to find everything out here.
You know, I show up at a new place every week, and I don't know where anything's at, so you know, asking other players or fellow caddies or PGA officials.
But no, everything's been great, and you know, kind of moving pretty smoothly here.

Q. Did you get lost anywhere this summer?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think the most lost I got was when I walked in here and I didn't know where player registration or anything was because front entrance was one place and player registration was on the other side, and that's about it.

Q. Rick, you were talking about the process of committing to the shot 100%. Talk about that process. How much is that an indicator of how well you're playing, how quickly you're able to do that? I mean the difference between 90% and 100% commitment on a particular shot?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's more of what I'm thinking about over the ball, you know, which swing thought I have for the day, or possibly the swing cue, making sure I'm reminding myself of a few certain things and making sure I don't have any negative thought, oh, what if the wind takes it or I don't want to hit it in this bunker, I don't want to hit it in the water, just making sure I don't have any negative thought. Just making sure I'm 100% fully committed to what I want to do and knowing what I want to do.

Q. Are there times where you aren't sure?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah. You know, you get -- usually a few times around, and usually if I miss a shot, it's because, you know, I was either not fully committed or I kind of rushed into it a bit.
MARK STEVENS: Okay. Well, thanks a lot, Rickie, good luck this weekend.

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