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July 16, 2011

Rickie Fowler


LYNN WALLACE: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by Rickie Fowler, who's just shot a 2-under par 68 today and is 2-under for the championship. You've got yourself in a great position today. Can you give us your thoughts.
RICKIE FOWLER: I had quite a bit of fun out there today. Obviously it wasn't the best conditions possible, but I knew going into the day that it was going to play tough and just had to make the most of it. So went off and got a good start and kept it going from there.

Q. There were former Open Champions coming in this morning and saying par could be about 76 in those conditions. About with that in mind how does it feel to shoot 68?
RICKIE FOWLER: It was awesome out there. I hit a lot of good shots. Obviously a couple poor ones, but we were able to make up for it and stay away from making big numbers out there.
But I felt like I was very in control of my game and it was nice to make some putts late in the round there. But overall, 68, yeah, I would have loved a couple over par going into the day, but we made the best of the conditions and played well.

Q. The first time I saw you play links golf was in the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down. Right from the start there you looked very much at home playing links golf. Can you talk a little bit about that.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I love links golf. I love the variety and the options you get on the course. There's so many ways you can play one shot, and I feel like I can hit different shots and I like to hit different shots, and it's just the way I grew up learning how to play the game.
When I'm given those opportunities, it's just fun for me. There's so many ways to play one course, and it's rare that the course plays the same way on a four-day tournament.

Q. Was this the worst conditions you've ever played in? And if not, what was or what came even close?
RICKIE FOWLER: For the situation and where we're at, probably the worst I've played in. But there was a couple times in college golf we played in conference championship. There was one day where it was blowing pretty good and raining, pretty similar to this, but for the most part this is probably -- for the situation, the tournament and where I'm at in my career, probably the worst conditions I've played in, and the best I've played in those conditions.

Q. Where was that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Prairie Dunes.

Q. A lot of players came in before you complaining about how difficult it was. How important was your mental approach to today, going out there saying, don't look for excuses with this weather but just take it on?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, you have to kind of embrace where you're at and what's in front of you, and for the most part, my caddie and I, Joe, we were trying to go out and keep moving forward and stay positive. We knew it was going to play hard and we knew it was going to be tough to make any birdies out there today. But when you make the best of it and go at it with the right attitude, 68 is possible. But I had to play pretty well to do that.

Q. You played with Rory three days in a row, I'm just wondering whether you talked at all about Congressional. And since you guys are virtually the same age and semi close to experience as pros, whether you drew anything off that, watching him do it and whether that would imbue you with any sense of confidence in your age bracket that it is actually doable?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I talked to him briefly. I hadn't seen him since that, and obviously that was an incredible week he put together there. We didn't really speak about it a whole lot. I just asked him if he had a good time, and he said he had fun.
No, it was a lot of fun to watch him. It definitely motivated me and gave me more confidence just because obviously, like you said, similar age, similar part of our career. I'd say he's a step ahead of me. He's got a couple wins and a major under his belt. But like I said, it definitely motivated me, and it was fun to see what he did there.

Q. How big would it be for you to -- obviously not having had that professional win, to make it at a major? And are you allowing yourself to think about that? And secondly, is it going to be all head to toe orange tomorrow?
RICKIE FOWLER: I'd love for my first win to be a major, and I'd love for it to be here. I'm playing every tournament to win, be in contention and give it a shot, so I'm in a perfect place going into tomorrow. We'll see where the guys finish up today, but I felt like I played really well today, and it's going to give me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow. Just need to make some putts in contention, and I think it's going to put me in a good spot.
And I think you'll see some orange tomorrow.

Q. Head to toe?

Q. You talked about how you tried to stay focused out there. You did seem extremely focused and you were buttoned up against the weather all the way around, and you looked like you were working very methodically with the caddie on keeping things dry. Had you talked about how to deal with the weather in as good a way as possible?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah. Great example of that, obviously someone that's played pretty well over here for a long time is Tom Watson, and to see him on the coverage, and Joe, my caddie, watched a little bit of the coverage prior to us going out, and he just saw kind of how he looked like he was having fun, smiling, and embracing the conditions.
You know, the best way to deal with tough and hard conditions is just go out and try and make a good time of it. So starting the round, we just wanted to keep moving forward, have fun hitting golf shots. And with those conditions, it makes, I think, links golf fun to play. Obviously it would be a little bit different if we were playing a U.S. Open condition course with thick rough and tight fairways, but out here on links golf, you're able to manipulate shots and play your way around the golf course and make a score of it.

Q. At what point did the worst of the weather get behind you? And given how you felt like you were in control of your game, was there any part of you that wouldn't have minded seeing it last throughout the rest of the day?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think the worst of it kind of started to lay down once we made the turn. It was kind of off and on a little bit there the last couple holes on the front nine.
And yeah, I mean, the way I was playing, I would have loved to have seen the weather stay the same throughout the day. But that's the beauty of playing in the Open Championship; it doesn't always -- it's not always the same all day. It can change any minute.

Q. Just wondering, because you want to obviously get your first win, how will you keep from maybe not trying too hard? What will you talk to yourself about and tell yourself?
RICKIE FOWLER: I've just got to make sure I keep having fun. I think that'll keep me for the most part kind of mellow and not getting too far ahead of myself. As long as I draw on some past experiences being in contention -- I mean, I was in contention two weeks ago, and I really -- the only thing was I just really couldn't get any putts to fall. I felt really good where I was at in that position. Obviously this is a little bit bigger stage and a major, but I'm ready to go out and have some fun and play well. We just have to do the best that we can tomorrow and see where that puts us.

Q. Talking of those past experiences, you played exceptional under both pressure and adverse conditions at the Ryder Cup. Is that an experience and a scenario that you can put to good use tomorrow?
RICKIE FOWLER: Definitely. That's probably one I'm going to draw on for the rest of my life. Although it was only to halve a match, I was 4 down with not very many holes to play and 3 down with three to play. Definitely one that I'm going to draw on. I hit some great shots under the conditions and made two good putts on 17 and 18. How calm I felt there will definitely help me draw off that experience and hopefully go into tomorrow and be as calm as I was there.

Q. Were there any occasions today where you and your caddie had to remind yourselves that you were having fun out there?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, we got off to a good start. I made par on the 1st hole. Struggled a little bit on 2, but from then on, it was pretty easy to keep moving forward. Obviously if I would have made a couple big numbers, then it would be hard to have fun out there. But it was critical to get off to a good start to make sure that we were going to keep moving forward and being able to play the way that we did today.

Q. Considering the conditions, were you surprised by the amount of people who stayed out watching?
RICKIE FOWLER: I was, yeah. I probably wouldn't have been out there. I would have been home watching on TV. It just shows you how great a fans there are of golf for them to stick out in those conditions and the amount of people that were following our group. Obviously a lot for Rory. It's nice to have a lot of supporters out there, and definitely got to thank them for dealing with those conditions.

Q. You clearly have a flair for the dramatic finish as you showed us at Celtic Manor. Your last three rounds at St. Andrews were very impressive and again today you're reveling in this kind of environment. What is it about this part of the world that you enjoy so much?
RICKIE FOWLER: I love playing links golf, and this is only the second time I've played in the Open Championship, but I got a real taste of links golf for the first time at '07 Walker Cup at County Down, and it's just the way I grew up learning how to play golf is learning how to hit different shots, and that's how you've got to play around here depending on the weather conditions or how the wind is blowing. You've just got to kind of figure out your own way around.

Q. Last year we had some tough conditions, too, in St. Andrews and you came through with three great rounds as we know. Is there anything about the tough weather that makes you play better?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, definitely makes me probably concentrate and pick out what shot I'm trying to hit, makes me focus a bit harder. A similar situation was under the gun at the Ryder Cup coming down the last few holes. I really had to focus on exactly what I was trying to do, and when I was focusing that hard, I really wasn't able to have any time to get nervous or feel nervous, which was great.
So going into tomorrow, I know there's a possibility of some wind, which would be, I think, good, to help me focus on exactly what I'm trying to do, and go out and have some fun and hit some good shots.

Q. I'm not sure whether you know, but you share a name with a character in a very popular soap opera here.
RICKIE FOWLER: I found out at Ryder Cup.

Q. Is it enjoyable or irritating to hear it repeated here? Because it makes the galleries smile. I think it's affectionate for what it's worth.
RICKIE FOWLER: It's fine with me. It was quite a hit on the 1st tee at the Ryder Cup. It's fun. The fans are getting into it, and obviously they were sticking out there today. No, it doesn't bother me. It shows they know who I am, so that's good.

Q. You played obviously this is your third straight day with Rory and you played with him at Augusta, as well. Was there a part of you today that thought, he's the it guy right now, the hot player in golf, and if I could beat him today that would give you some sort of momentum? Not that it's match play, but did you have that sort of thought that, let's play better than Rory today?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I mean, Rory and I talked about it, too. There's a lot of questions people always ask about our friendship or if we enjoy playing together. We love playing together. It's always fun playing with someone that you enjoy playing with or being around. But at the same time we're trying to beat each other. It's a friendly rivalry. I dealt with it through high school and college with teammates. You're teammates but you go out there in a tournament and you're trying to beat each other.
So yeah, I mean, obviously I'm trying to beat him on a daily basis, and he's usually someone that plays pretty well and puts himself in contention. So I felt like if we went out today and beat Rory, we'd be in a good spot. Unfortunately he made a double late and struggled a little bit, but I felt like I played well and got my job done today.
LYNN WALLACE: Thanks, Rickie, for joining us. Good luck this week.

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