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May 30, 2012

Rickie Fowler


COLIN MURRAY:  We'd like to welcome Rickie Fowler to the interview room here at the Memorial Tournament, your third start here.  Obviously a couple good finishes in the past with a runner‑up in 2010.  Talk about coming back here to a venue where you've had some success.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I mean, looking forward to this week.  I've played really well here before.  Last year I made a lot of birdies and ended up making too many others and bogeys.  So two years ago I gave it a run, Rosey played well on Sunday and ended up finishing second.  Played well here before, made a lot of birdies, and hopefully we can eliminate some of the bogeys this week and get up there on top.
COLIN MURRAY:  You had a chance to play the golf course this morning in the pro‑am.  Maybe talk about the condition of the golf course, how it sets up this year.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, the golf course looks great right now.  First year I was here it was really wet and dealt with a lot of storms rolling through.  Last year it was still a little soft.  Right now it looks like if we can dodge some of the rain coming in, with the cooler conditions, it looks like we may be able to get the course in a lot firmer state than we've seen it the last couple years.
Looking forward to seeing the course play to its difficult level, what it can, and could be a fun week.  There could be a chance that the scores definitely won't be as low as they have been, and looking forward to hopefully it firming up and playing a little firm and fast out there.

Q.  Two years ago when you were here and you had the runner‑up finish, there was kind of this Rickie mania that kind of took over this place.  I remember you played the U.S. Open qualifier on the Monday and there was all these people wearing the Puma hats out there and I haven't seen a kid under 14 without one this week.  Was that a special week for you in the way that all came together and did it almost serve as a launching point for you in terms of all that has come off the course?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, it was definitely a stepping‑stone.  I played well earlier in the year that year, but to almost go wire to wire for the whole tournament was definitely a huge step for me, how comfortable I felt throughout the week, and ended up not piecing together the round we needed on Sunday.  But it was a solid week for me and some of the best golf I had played to that point.  So definitely a big stepping‑stone.
The fans really embraced it, and I guess we haven't really looked back since then.

Q.  Is it like this everywhere you go?

Q.  That's kind of where we're at?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, there's a lot of hats floating around.

Q.  It's pretty amazing.  If it's like this everywhere, there's more of your stuff than anybody else's and probably everybody else's combined.
RICKIE FOWLER:  We don't have any number on it yet, but I think it would be a pretty good contest.

Q.  Rory was in here, and he hit a speed bump I guess you could say last week, and he said he's still trying to figure out that balance between practice, rest, focus.  Where do you stand on that?  Is that one of the challenges being younger, trying to get a read on all those things?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, it's definitely tough.  I think one of the biggest things out on TOUR here in the States or playing worldwide, yeah, just trying to figure out exactly when to take a week off, when to take two weeks off or a month off, how to prepare for a major, early in the week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
Sometimes‑‑ like this week I had a charity event Monday down in Tulsa, didn't get here until late.  Actually it was Tuesday morning but Monday night late, so yeah, actually I took it easy.
But yeah, a lot of it, when to work out, when to eat, when to sleep.  So there's a lot of time management, and you kind of have to figure out personally what suits you best.  Obviously there's going to be speed bumps along the way, and it's not‑‑ I wouldn't look at Rory's game any differently just because of missing a cut or having a bad round here or there.  He's still been playing one of the best‑‑ between him and Luke.  It's definitely a challenge to figure it out, and you can't make it perfect.
But it's going to be different for everyone, and I'm still trying to figure it out and make sure that I'm ready to go every week that I play.  And there's going to be some tournaments that I really like to play that I may have to skip throughout my career just because I don't want to go somewhere and just try and make the cut.  I want to go and be in contention.
I know Rory is in the same position where he wants to go, and he'll play to win tournaments, not just to try and squeeze by and have a decent tournament.  That's a tough part on our end because we're not looking to just skip any given tournament.  But when it comes down to performing, sometimes you have to.

Q.  A year ago you were among the players on that list of yet to win but among the best.  Now you have won.  How have things changed for you and your approach to a tournament now that the monkey is off your back of getting that first win?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, like you said, it's a big monkey off my back.  I've been playing well as of late, so I felt very comfortable and very confident.  It was nice to sneak myself into that playoff and pull off a couple shots and finally get the first win.  Yeah, now put that in the rearview mirror and move forward and worked on almost getting a second win the week after.  But played decent last week, had another good finish, and looking forward to keep moving forward and putting myself in contention.
Definitely one of my main goals coming into my professional career and especially this year was to get my win on the PGA TOUR, and really looking forward to getting my second now.

Q.  Since you turned pro, what was the point where you felt like I am not managing my time right; I've played too many tournaments?  Where was your speed bump, your worst speed bump?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I've had a couple stretches that were tough.  Obviously I had to play a lot my first year out.  I had to play a lot on the West Coast to reshuffle up, having a couple good tournaments, and I had to take advantage of a couple sponsor exemptions that I did get.
At the beginning of this year I ended up playing seven in a row, which was my most, but I played through the West Coast, which is one of the easiest stretches just because of how close tournaments are, into the Match Play.  I was out first round because David Toms made a couple putts.  And Honda to Doral.  So it was actually not a bad stretch.
But when you start talking about playing across‑‑ you start traveling across‑‑ over to Europe or to Asia, one of my hardest stretches that I made the end of my rookie year, which kind of made me realize on travel and how much it really can wear on you, I went Fry's in San Jose to Vegas to Malaysia to Shanghai to Disney, and then I played the ADT Skills Challenge Monday and Tuesday after that.
I ended up getting sick a little bit when I was in China, and when I got back, once my body was able to just relax.  It definitely wears on you, and I feel like playing multiple weeks in a row is definitely not best for health or golf game.  So I think I've kind of realized that three is kind of a good number, and then if it's around the world, sometimes a two‑week break here or there is not a bad thing.

Q.  Picking up on that, is there a temptation not to want to practice because you're playing so much, and is there a danger in that, that you can get in habits and not work on the game from a practice standpoint?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I don't‑‑ I mean, it's, I guess, personal.  Some guys practice a lot.  You're going to see Vijay on the range.  Every time I went to the gym last week at Colonial, he was on the right side of the back side of the range down there practicing.  I don't know how he does it.  That's just what he's always done, and that's the way he's going to continue to do it.  If I did that, I'd beat myself into the ground and I wouldn't be sitting here.  So I guess it just depends.
But I rarely practice much on the road.  Even when I'm at home, I just enjoy playing.  But like yesterday, I took the day off, but I came out here and got about an hour of short game in.  And so it just‑‑ I think little things, short game can make a difference on the road.  Other than that, if you're swinging‑‑ I've been swinging really good, so I'm not worrying too much in that category, and just trying to figure out how to get the ball in the hole once we're close to the green.  I think that's kind of the biggest area that changes.  Other than that, drive it in the fairway, knock it on the green and figure out how to get it in the hole.

Q.  Did you appreciate the fact that your team today came outfitted and ready to go in the blue hats, team Puma?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, we were definitely the best‑looking team out there.  Yeah, both‑‑ all my guys did their part on looking the part.  They hit some good shots out there, too.
No, we had a great time.  It was cool for them to show up like that and show their support, and like I said, we had a great time.  I had a good group of guys from Nationwide, one of the main sponsors here.  I enjoy playing the pro‑ams, and when the guys show up like that ready to play and have a good time, I enjoy it some more.

Q.  It was really cool to see you at the end of the Masters be down there when Bubba hit the shot and got it done.  What is that bond that you and Hunter and Ben seem to have?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, we're a band (laughter).  Bands stick together.
It felt right.  Ben and I were finished up.  I finished when Bubba was going off down No.1 and hung around, wanted to watch the end of the tournament since we were going to be on the road and driving to Hilton Head and wouldn't be able to watch.  Once Bubba was in contention and coming down the stretch, Ben was like, So are we going to go to 18 if he's going to win?  I was like, Yeah.
So ended up having a chance, so hurry up and made a quick change, went down to the green, and it was probably one of my best moments in golf, just being down there.  We're all good friends.  Bubba is probably one of my best friends out here on TOUR, and to be there and see one of your best friends kind of go through the moments in a major championship, especially there at Augusta, how quiet it gets, I mean, the silence, it's loud.  And then to be there for him on 10 when he‑‑ the shot was perfect for him.  If I had to pick anyone to hit the shot, I'd pick him.  Not that it was easy, but if you stuck him in the middle of the fairway and told him to hit it straight, he's better off in the trees hooking it.
It was a cool moment and kind of gave me a kick in the butt to go get in contention and go win a tournament.  I've played a little bit better since then.

Q.  Golf Boys going to play at Bubba's Bash any time soon?
RICKIE FOWLER:  We did a little singing last night.

Q.  What did you sing?
RICKIE FOWLER:  We sang Golf Boys.

Q.  You didn't TobyMac it?
RICKIE FOWLER:  We opened for Toby.  He was on after us.  We came on after Jeremy Camp, and we opened for Toby.  We made him look pretty good.

Q.  Would Hunter have been there when you won, as well?

Q.  So it's more of that brotherhood.  You kind of see it in the video and off the course, as well.  What does that mean to you?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, I have a lot of good friends out here, and all the guys on TOUR have been very helpful, especially the older guys that have been around, the vets.  We kind of have a big brotherhood on the PGA TOUR.  And yeah, there's some closer groups, and you see it with Bubba, Ben and Hunter and I.  It's like being a part of a little team.  They're always there for you whatever you need.  Obviously guys that if you're down, they're there to pick you up.  We spend time on and off the course together, and they're just fun guys to be around.

Q.  I'd like to ask you a couple questions about a couple holes.  12, club selection based on pin position and wind?
RICKIE FOWLER:  12, I've gone from hitting anywhere from 9‑iron to 5‑iron.  Today the tee was back.  I hit 7‑iron.  If the pin is in the back you could end up hitting close to 5‑iron, put the tee up, and if there's a helping wind could hit anywhere from 9‑iron to possibly a wedge.

Q.  And the 15th hole, your last chance at an eagle certainly, how does that play into your strategy?
RICKIE FOWLER:  15, the big key there is hitting a good drive.  You miss the fairway there and it ends up being a tough lay‑up because of the amount of trees, and if you hit it left you're quite a ways below the fairway, and you're trying to navigate your way through the trees.  The biggest thing there is hitting a good drive down the middle of the fairway and just getting it up around the green in two definitely makes it a little easier.  It's not an easy hole to hit a wedge shot into, either, because you're hitting from below the green, so you can get it up there in two and sneak around with a four every day and be very happy with it.
COLIN MURRAY:  Rickie, thanks for your time.  Play well this week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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