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May 8, 2012

Rickie Fowler


DOUG MILNE:  We'd like to welcome Rickie Fowler to the interview room here at the 2012 PLAYERS Championship.
Coming off a spectacular week last week, your first PGA TOUR victory at the Wells Fargo Championship.  I know that obviously has a good sound to it.  A few days from the victory, tell us how you're feeling after the win and as you prepare to start your week here at THE PLAYERS Championship.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it's nice to come off a win.  That's something I've been working on for a couple years now, and obviously there's been a lot of expectations, both from the media side and my side, as well.
It's nice to finally get the first one out of the way.  It was nice to get down here Sunday night.  I took yesterday off and went out and played a few holes this morning before a little delay.
But got a good workout in this afternoon, looking forward to playing nine tomorrow and getting rested up for the week.

Q.  Was it becoming a burden emotionally not to have won, to you?
RICKIE FOWLER:  No.  It's my third year out here.  I'm 23.  I would be finishing up school right now.  So I got my first win before I finished college.
No, it's been fun.  It's obviously a process, and it's not easy to win on the PGA TOUR.  There's a lot of great players out here, best players in the world.  But it was nice to get it last week at a very good tournament and against a very good field.

Q.  What do you like about this course and what do you hate about this course?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, I like that it's tough.  The greens are fairly small and you have to drive it very well here.
What I don't like about it is that I've missed the cut two years in a row.  My first year I didn't come in playing all that great.  Ended up missing the cut.
Last year I had the flu and missed the cut by one after I rallied‑‑ I think I shot 5‑under or something coming in on my inward‑‑ on my last nine holes to give myself a chance, and I finally started to feel better.
So this year it's nice to come in off a win playing well, and I know my game is ready to play here, and hopefully give myself a chance to play on the weekend.

Q.  You talked a little bit about this last week, but how much sort of relief is there now that you have won, a couple days removed from it?  Have you kind of looked back, and do you feel sort of more a sense of relief and feel like it's going to be easier‑‑ not that it's easy, but it will be a little easier now going forward?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it's one of my main goals that I've had ever since I turned pro to get a win on the PGA TOUR.  I think the first one is definitely the hardest.  You're either a PGA TOUR winner or you're not.
Nice to have the first one out of the way and looking forward to getting back in contention and working on my second.

Q.  When would that be?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I wouldn't mind it being this weekend.  I've been playing well the last couple weeks, and it was nice to win last week.  I feel like I can continue to play well and draw off the last two weeks and continue to have a good season and focus on my other goals that I had for the year:  Making it to the TOUR Championship, and giving myself a chance to play on my second Ryder Cup team.

Q.  Have you seen the pairing sheet?

Q.  What do you think?  You're obviously going to be playing out of a new category now.  I don't think I can recall you playing with Tiger a bunch.  What do you think about that?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I don't know if Tiger and I have played together in a tournament round.  I've obviously been around him quite a bit with Ryder Cup, played a practice round with him there.  Been a lot around him at Medalist, practicing, playing.
I've been around him a bunch.  We enjoy each other, and I enjoy practicing with him and being around him.  Obviously Hunter, third party of our pairing, we've had some good times together.

Q.  So I've seen.
RICKIE FOWLER:  I'm a better dancer.  But no, it'll be fun.  We have a good pairing, and I know we'll enjoy our first two rounds out there.

Q.  Better dancing is not saying much.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, we're not going to talk about singing because none of us are good.

Q.  For so long we've seen dominance in this game from Tiger Woods.  We've seen more parity throughout the ranks.  Which one do you like better as a player and as a fan, and would you prefer a rivalry at the top between two, three, four guys on a week‑in, week‑out basis?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, I definitely like seeing Tiger play his best or playing to his capabilities.
But I definitely think it is good for the game right now with the amount of guys that are bouncing back and forth and the amount of guys that are winning.  I don't think there's one person in particular that's dominating.  Obviously between Luke and Rory, they've been playing very well over the last year.
But you're seeing a lot of guys winning, and the kind of fluctuation in rankings.  But I definitely think it is beneficial for the game, for guys like Tiger, Phil, Rory, Luke to be playing at their best; and whether that creates a three‑, four‑ or five‑person rivalry at the top, or if it comes back to one person dominating, I'm not opposed to either situation.
You know, I would rather beat guys while they're playing well versus struggling.

Q.  We've become kind of a mustache down around here in Jacksonville with the new owner of the Jaguars.  You've got one; Geoff Ogilvy has got one.  Who looks better, and any superstition now that you've won in terms of keeping it going or shaving it?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it all kind of just started for fun.  Ogilvy and I had it in Australia.  He had it for the Presidents Cup; I had it the week after for the PGA and for Movember, and just kind of kept it going for fun.  I have a lot of people that don't like it, tell me to shave it.
It's more kind of showing I'm not too worried about what other people think.  It's just me being me, and whether that can be a lesson to some kids, just not trying to fit in, just be themselves.  But superstition, not really.  I've had some rough weekends with it, and I've had a few good weekends lately with it.  It doesn't really matter.
But as far as looks go, mine is not as healthy as Ogilvy's or Wagner's.  I'm not saying any of them look good or bad.  It's just fun.  It just kind of shows you some of our personalities.  We enjoy it.  We've got our own little brotherhood going, I guess, Mo‑Bros.
No, it's cool.  It's fun.  It's just some guys being us, and we're not too worried about whether it looks good, bad, healthy, not much there or whatnot.

Q.  Jason alluded to it a little bit ago about rivalries.  With you being so young and Rory being so young, can that develop into something?  Are rivalries in golf basically dead and it's just Tiger and Phil and then we go back into earlier golf?  Can it be there?  Is it something you would like?  Is it good for fans?  I know you spoke about four or five, but Sunday was a perfect example, you two walking up the green and just looking at that and thinking there was something there.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, well, I definitely think Rory and I have a friendly rivalry.  We've played against each other a few times starting at the Walker Cup.  You know, I respect his game.  I feel like he respects mine.  We enjoy playing together and against each other.
I know he wants to beat me just as bad as I want to beat him.  But I think that both him and I would have to kind of run away and play really well just for it to be a rivalry between the two of us.  There's a lot of really good young players right now, and to count any one of them out of a rivalry would be somewhat unfair to them.
So that's where I think‑‑ the game is in a really good state right now with the amount of good, young players that have come out lately, and the guys that are between the ages of 20 and 30, there's a‑‑ if I wanted to or had a list, I could go down and name off 10 to 20 guys between Rory and I to Keegan to Dustin to a guy like Jason Day.
It might take a while, but there's a lot of good young players right now, so it would be unfair to say Rory and I are the rivalry right now versus the others that are just as good right now.

Q.  How competitive are the practice rounds at Medalist, and how much camaraderie is there among the Jupiter guys on TOUR?
RICKIE FOWLER:  They're as competitive as you want to get them, as friendly or as much rivalry as you want.  We have a good time.  There's a lot of good players playing out of the Jupiter area right now, and it's nice to be able to go home and play against guys that you play with week to week, keep the game sharp.
It's fun just being able to go out with guys, rip around in the carts, whether it be having a skins game, Wolf, playing best‑ball against each other.  It's nice to just go home and be able to have some fun, yet good practice and some games that we get going.

Q.  Given you and Bubba's relationship, do you think any of that, his Masters performance, rubbed off on you at all?  Anything you took from that that might have helped nudge you over the top there, or was it just a coincidence?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it was definitely nice for me to be there on Sunday when he did win the Masters.  Kind of motivated me a little bit more to want to be in that situation, whether it be at a major or a PGA TOUR event or wherever, just motivated me more to win.
You know, after that, I didn't play great at Hilton Head.  But went on and had a good week at Zurich in New Orleans, and continued that on to last week and got a win.
You know, I can definitely give some credit to Bubba for motivating me a bit and giving me kind of a kick in the butt to go out and get it done.

Q.  Did you guys talk after your win?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, he was‑‑ once I got out of there after some media and some time with the members and staff there, once I was able to get on the phone, he was on the short list of people I made a phone call to.

Q.  One thing going back to '07 Walker Cup and kind of the first time you met Rory and sort of what your impressions or takeaway was from the first time you guys met or played against each other.  Secondly, how closely have you kind of followed his career, whether it's week to week or since then and that sort of thing?
RICKIE FOWLER:  '07, the first time I met him, I hadn't really heard a whole lot about him prior to that.  I knew he was one of the top players, and once I got over there, I knew he was kind of their stud on the team.  Their team as well as ours was fairly loaded.  I didn't play any individual matches against him, I played alternate shot against him; Billy Horschel and I versus him and Johnny Caldwell, which we came out on top, which was nice.
We had some good times there.  Unfortunately he had to take off right after.  I wasn't able to kind of stay for the celebration the last night.  A few of the guys took off for Q‑school right from there; so fairly brief.  But caught back up I think at the U.S. Open and kind of continued from there.
I've definitely watched him, stayed up with his career, and in a way, seeing other young guys like him play well motivates me to play well just because‑‑ same thing, like through college, same against some good players on the team, in a way you don't want to be outdone.  So it kind of motivates you to push yourself and do better.
I feel like if some of the guys like Rory and the guys like Keegan, a lot of us keep playing well; I feel like it'll just push all of us to be the best that we can be.

Q.  Do you guys feel like when each other are playing, you sort of check results, when you're off maybe and Rory is playing or vice versa, keep up that way?  Go back to basketball that way, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were notorious for that.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I keep up.  I wouldn't say I'm looking every week just to see exactly where certain guys are at.
You know, like on the PGA TOUR App, there's definitely guys I have as favorites and buddies and guys I like to follow and just check up with.  And obviously guys that win or some of my buddies that play well, I'll send them a text or give them a call and say, hey, good playing.
Rory is a guy that I like to follow, and obviously I like watching him play.  Like I said earlier, I respect his game, and he's where he's at for a reason.  He's one of the best players, and he's been playing‑‑ one of the best between him and Luke as of late.
He's fun to watch, and I definitely respect the way he plays, and I look forward to playing against him for a long time.

Q.  Today specifically, what was that like for you given a day to digest what happened with the win and then you were walking out there to the driving range, seemed like a warm welcome from pretty much everyone you passed.  What did that mean to you, to still get that love?  And second of all, if we can get a scouting report from you on Justin Blackmon.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it's been a lot of fun throughout the locker room and down the range, hand shakes, congrats from all the guys.  It comes with the win, and I'll take whatever comes with it.  It's nice to get my first win, and to do so prior to THE PLAYERS.  Obviously last week was a great week at Quail Hollow, the Wells Fargo, and coming into here, got basically everyone here.
It's a big week, and there's been a lot of attention given to me, which has been cool.  I'm definitely honored to be in the situation I am.
As for Blackmon, I'm excited to watch him play coming up this year.  He's a very talented guy.  He's a better guy than he is a football guy, and I expect big things out of him.  He's talented, and the sky's the limit.  Hopefully I'll be able to come up and watch him play a few times.
DOUG MILNE:  Rickie, congratulations again, and thanks for your time.

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