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May 12, 2012

Rickie Fowler


DOUG MILNE:  Rickie Fowler, thanks for joining us after a successful third round here at THE PLAYERS Championship, 6‑under 66.
You have spent a lot of time in media centers for the past couple weeks.  Just some comments on the round today, and then we'll open it up and take a few questions.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Had some fun out there today.  I mean, other than bogeyed the last, I'd have to say it was a fairly perfect round.  Obviously there was a few shots that we could have saved or maybe one or two birdie putts that I would have liked to go in.
But a great day considering the amount of wind there was early.  Drove it well, which I knew was going to be key, how hard it was blowing my first nine or ten holes.
Really took advantage of it, being 5‑under through 10 and then making the birdie at 11.
In a way I tried to look at it like Saturday at The Open last year, where it was not the best conditions, and try to go out and hit some shots and have some fun with it.

Q.  After the emotional high and all that of last week, did you feel at all flat or lethargic or like you needed to go back to the gas tank this week?  Obviously you don't seem to have lost a step.
RICKIE FOWLER:  No, I've actually felt really good this week, I mean, the best that I've felt coming into THE PLAYERS.  The first year I missed the cut.  The second year I had the flu; so I felt a lot better than that.
And this year I took Monday off kind of to recharge and slept in a bit.  I only played five holes Tuesday, played the back nine on Wednesday, and got some time in the gym and made sure that physically and mentally I was ready to go for the week.
I had seen the course a handful of times, so we knew where to hit it and what we were going to try to do.  It was more making sure I was going to be ready to play golf and mentally and physically ready to go on Thursday.

Q.  What's the difference between you now and at any other point in your golfing career that you could come out and play so well the last two days?  Is it just the confidence of last week, or do you think you're swinging it as well as you have?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I'm a PGA TOUR winner now.  (Laughter.)
It feels good to be able to say that.

Q.  Is that literally it?
RICKIE FOWLER:  No, it's not that I'm swinging it any better or anything like that.  I'm definitely confident that I've played really well the last two weeks prior to this.  Finally get a few putts to drop.
It's more just things are clicking.  Everything is kind of coming together; driving the ball well.
I think in a way, left‑hand low freed me up a little bit from the fairway, and I feel like I'm managing my way around the course very well.  Being aggressive when we can be aggressive, and taking a chance here or there, and nothing that's too risky.  And when we need to play to the center of the green, making good swings there.
So kind of just‑‑ I'm definitely confident with the way I'm playing.  I'm hitting it well.  Some good finishes obviously help with that.  It's just nice to know where the ball is going and to actually make a swing and see it go there.

Q.  Two parts:  Your dad said that when you broke your foot and hurt your wrist on the motorcycle accident when you were 15, it was a little bit of an epiphany for you to go towards golf.  Do you see it that way?  And secondly, could you talk about the decision Tuesday last week to go to the cross‑handed grip?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, riding was always a back seat to golf.  At that point I knew if I wanted to be serious with golf and take it to the next level and have a chance to play on the PGA TOUR that I wouldn't be able to share the time, motocross and golf, so hung it up a bit there.  Still get out when I can or when I go back to California.  It's a way for me to let loose, but I'm definitely not on the bike or in the air as much as I was before.
Yeah, left‑hand low, went and worked on it Tuesday at Zurich, played the week there and finished top 10, and then went into last week and won.

Q.  What prompted the decision, just your work‑‑
RICKIE FOWLER:  We were working on some setup stuff and alignment and starting the ball on‑line, and I just felt a little uncomfortable getting squared up to my line with a traditional grip.  It felt like I was aimed really far right with my body, and things just weren't matching up.
I putted cross‑handed a lot in high school and played well in high school both ways.  So I've always practiced sometimes cross‑handed, and it just put me in a better position at setup, and we went from there.

Q.  Obviously for a while now there's a lot of these kids who come out and dress like you.  Do you get a kick out of that?  Do you ever laugh at some of this or sort of take some amusement or even a compliment out of any of that?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I love seeing it, especially the little kids running around with my hat on that is kind of flopping around, slightly large for them.
Yeah, I get a laugh out of it and feel honored when there's 40‑ or 50‑year‑old guys that are cruising around in all orange.  (Laughter.)
It's fun.  It kind of shows you that they're having fun.  They don't care what other people think.  They're just out supporting and rocking the orange.
I love seeing it.  It's cool in my perspective to have somewhat of an impact like that, especially with the young kids.  If I can keep having a positive impact and keep guiding them the right way, then that's half my goal as a PGA TOUR player.

Q.  The last two times you missed the cut here, what did you learn about the course from those experiences or maybe about your game?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, I knew getting the ball in the fairway was big here, because playing out of the Bermuda rough, you don't know how far the ball is going to go, left or right, and you can't hold the greens out here playing out of the rough.  The biggest thing was getting the ball in the fairway.
My first year I kind of struggled off the tee and that kind of bled into everything else.  Last year being sick, I ended up missing the cut, I think, by one.  I shot a few under on my final nine coming in.  I finally started driving it well and making a couple putts.
So it was nice to have that nine holes last year and coming in, knowing that I could play well here, just needed to get things to get going, and coming in here this year with some confidence and knowing that I was playing well, mixing that back nine and my recent play together has definitely helped out.

Q.  Did you learn anything about your game in particular?  Did it expose anything?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, just not trying to force the issue, not trying to hit it ten yards further or trying to squeeze it in certain spots.  Just kind of taking what the course gives you and making sure I'd fully commit to hitting that shot.
Like I said, the biggest thing is just trying to keep it in the short grass out here, whether you're hitting a 6‑iron in or a 9‑iron out of the rough, you're going to take 6‑iron out of the fairway all day.

Q.  You said on television that you're one of the ones with the least amount of pressure on you, and yet people think highly of your game; you just won last week; and you yourself just mentioned that 50‑year‑old dressed all in orange.  What exactly did you mean by that?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, having won last week, there's not many people that have gone and won, and then won the next week.
So I feel like I'm in kind of an underdog position.  Maybe overlooked at the start of the week; that won last week, may be a little tired.
I'm ready to go.  Like I said last week, it's all about giving yourself chances out here, and I gave myself a chance last week on Sunday and took advantage of it and gave myself‑‑ giving myself a chance here going into Sunday.  Go out tomorrow, have some fun, give it our best shot and see where that puts us.
But I definitely feel like I may slide under the radar a little bit just because of the win last week and that it's not exactly highly likely you win two weeks in a row.  We'll see what we can do.

Q.  Do you still think you'll slide under the radar tomorrow?
RICKIE FOWLER:  No, I'll be dressed pretty bright, so you'll be able to see me (laughter).
No, it's just kind of the mindset that I have, and I feel like it's not exactly‑‑ especially coming into the week, that it's not highly likely that people win two weeks in a row, especially coming into a big week like this.
So it's kind of reverse psychology in a way.  I know that I'm playing well.  I know that I'm ready to compete, especially coming off of last week.  I'm excited about tomorrow, and we have ourselves another chance in front of us.

Q.  Does that take the pressure off; the fact that last week the talk was the guy hasn't won yet?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, well, having the first win out of the way is huge, and getting the job done on a Sunday on the PGA TOUR; and being that I was swinging as well as I was and swinging that well right now, I feel very confident about my game.
I haven't felt a whole lot of nerves, and I felt really comfortable out there today once I got up around the lead and in the lead.  Just going to enjoy the walk tomorrow and give it our best shot.
Like I said, it's another chance, and we'll see how well we take advantage of it.

Q.  That was my question.  If you're playing with a feeling now that you're playing with house money now that you won last week; that the pressure is kind of off yourself.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I'm definitely playing very free right now with the game.  I've been playing well the last two and a half weeks and swinging well and seeing the ball actually take off and fly the way I'm looking for it to do certain things.
Just a lot of confidence with my golf game and my golf swing right now.  So excited about tomorrow, and whether I'm two back, three back, in the lead, wherever the guys end up finishing today.  Anything can happen here, and just go try and play another solid round of golf tomorrow.

Q.  At one point in the video you do this leap where you go like up shoulder high with these guys.  I was wondering if that was‑‑ was that a one‑take job?  And can you get more air than that from a standing leap?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I've actually‑‑ I've got some sneaky hops.  I can jump higher than Mike (laughing).

Q.  Can you get the rim?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I haven't tried lately.  I might be able to.  No, I've got an all right vertical for a person of my height.  I can get up a little bit.

Q.  What are you, about 5'8", 150 maybe?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Maybe.  I think last time I had a physical, flatfooted, barefoot, I was like 5'7?", but I'm 5'9" with spikes.  About 155, give or take, depending on how hot it is outside that week.

Q.  The last haircut and all those things?
RICKIE FOWLER:  That, too.  A pound here or there.  After dinner it could be up to 160.

Q.  A couple things:  One, you mentioned winning back‑to‑back being so tough.  Is that just a product of the depth at tournaments, or what do you think?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, just to win a PGA TOUR event is tough enough as it is, and to go back‑to‑back, it's not done very often.  It's definitely a credit to how many good players there are right now, how many guys are playing well.
Yeah, it's not easy just to win one, let alone going back‑to‑back.  I don't know when the last time it's been done.  I'm not sure who it was.

Q.  Tiger.
RICKIE FOWLER:  I would have probably guessed Tiger, but it's‑‑ yeah, you don't see it happen very often.  And like I said, it's not easy to do, let alone just win one week.

Q.  Forgive my ignorance.  I know your mom is out here a lot watching you.  Does your dad get out here a lot?
RICKIE FOWLER:  My dad gets out maybe half as much as my mom does.  My mom still helps me quite a bit with some behind‑the‑scenes stuff, with kind of little management stuff, and along with the support.
She's probably been the most involved from day one.  She drove me to countless tournaments as a kid before I could even think about driving, so she's definitely been the most involved.  But my dad was the one that was working, giving me the opportunity to play.
So obviously they've both had the biggest impact, but my mom was the one that was more hands‑on involved.

Q.  Pretty cool having him this week because he wasn't there last week.
RICKIE FOWLER:  My dad wasn't there last week, no.  He was playing golf up until the last couple holes, then he finally went in and watched.  My dad and sister were actually out playing, and then I had my girlfriend and mom there last week.
So, we'll see.  It'll be fun to have them around.  He flew out yesterday‑‑ or actually Thursday night, and so we'll see what we can do.
Mother's Day tomorrow; back‑to‑back would be huge.  Obviously it hasn't been done very often.  Go out, have some fun.  Obviously we've got a chance.  We'll see what happens.

Q.  You said earlier that you like seeing these people, especially the kids, wearing your stuff.  What does it mean, apart from being loud and kind of have your own look to you?  What's beyond that?  What do you want them to know about you?  What values or whatever do you want to impart on them?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, however it is, maybe the way I conduct or handle myself on the course or how I am off the course.  You know, if there's any way that I can influence them in a positive way.  I like to think that I'm a good person.
I try not to act out too much on the course, which kind of came from my parents and my coach of a long time.  My mom always told me that if I were to break a club, then she takes it.
I don't like seeing‑‑ going to junior tournaments and seeing kids throw their club or getting really upset on the course.  I mean, it just kind of‑‑ I mean, it can ruin it.
So I try and handle myself the best way that I can on the course and be somewhat of a positive role model.  And if I can have that influence in their life on or off the course, like I said, that's kind of half of my goal out here on the PGA TOUR.

Q.  You played two rounds with Tiger and then you played this round without him.  With that crowd from those two rounds with Tiger, did that make any difference as far as your approach?  Was it distracting?
RICKIE FOWLER:  No.  I mean, I could definitely tell there was more open spots out there today.  Playing with Tiger, especially yesterday, it was packed.  It was six‑, seven‑deep on the tee, and there was a lot of people around.
But really, it's never bothered me playing in front of people.  I enjoy it, especially when I'm playing well.  You feed off the energy of the crowd and keep pushing forward.
Especially yesterday on the back nine when Tiger and I both started making birdies, it was as fun as golf gets; playing with the greatest golfer of all time in front of a big crowd and making birdies.  We had a great time.
No, it doesn't make a difference to me playing in front of three people or 2,000.

Q.  Considering how you tend to look on Sunday, what did you used to dress up as for Halloween?
RICKIE FOWLER:  At what age are you talking about?

Q.  Pick your favorite.  What was your best Halloween outfit?
RICKIE FOWLER:  My best one?  I think I was seven‑ish, give or take a year or two.  You all know it:  Fred Couples.  I had the visor and the whole get‑up and cruised around on roller blades house‑to‑house.  That was the best one.  Freddie knows it, too.

Q.  Has Freddie ever been on roller blades?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I'm not sure if Freddie's ever been on roller blades.

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