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July 18, 2012

Rickie Fowler


MIKE WOODCOCK:  We have Rickie Fowler joining us this afternoon.
Rickie, welcome.  I think I'll start off by asking, I think you tied 5th last year in The Open at Sandwich.  How much are you looking forward to the challenge this week here at Lytham?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Really looking forward to it.  As far as majors go, The Open Championship has been definitely my best performance the last two years, St. Andrews finishing tied for 14th and last year finishing tied for 5th.  Really looking forward to it.
The course is in great shape.  It got a little bit of water last night, but so far it's been very tough.  It's a tough driving course, very narrow, and there's a lot more rough than I've seen the last couple years at Open Championships, so I'm looking forward to the week.

Q.  I believe your first round at the Open Championship was a 79 at St. Andrews.  Can you tell us what happened that day and how you turned it around?  I think you shot 67 the next day, and it's been pretty impressive in your rounds since.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I mean that really being my only rough round.  I really didn't play that bad that day.  It was a bit windy and it played tough.  I think I made a triple and a double coming home late in the round, in the last five holes or so.
I held it together.  I was only a couple over and then made a couple of numbers coming in and turned a decent round into a 79 pretty quickly.  But like you said, ever since then I've played very well over here and had to play really well to make the cut there.

Q.  You played well, as we said, in the last two Opens.  You also played well at County Down in the Walker Cup.  Is links golf something you particularly enjoy, and if so, why?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I love links golf, probably my favourite.  I just‑‑ I like the amount of options you have while out playing a links golf course.  I think there's‑‑ there may be fewer options here this week just because of how narrow and how much rough there is and how many bunkers.  There's definitely going to be some shot making that's going to need to happen out there this week.  I love to play links golf, like I said.  You can be as creative as you want and hit a variety of shots throughout the round.

Q.  Obviously with Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson who I know is not here and Bubba Watson, as well, it seems to be a little gang forming of the young American guys that have won it.  Can you tell us what inspiration that gives to you when you see your colleagues of yours doing so well?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Well, it's fun being around guys that are winning currently.  Nice to have my first win out of the way, as well.  But with guys like that winning a major and being their first major, with Bubba and Webb being recent, it's been a lot of fun to watch but also just kind of a kick in the butt to get out and make me want it more.  And just giving myself the chance, like last year, being in contention and having a chance on Sunday playing in the second to the last group.
It is fun to watch them win and watch some of your good friends win, but at the same time you'd rather be there than them.  But, no, it's been good.  A lot of the young Americans have been playing well, as well as their fellow young players around the world.  We've got a lot of good competition right now, and it's tough to win.

Q.  Based on that, seeing all of those different players winning recently, does that give you more confidence that you can do it, or does it sort of take away because you know that the fields are so deep and it becomes more difficult to win these majors?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I definitely know that it's difficult to win any given week, especially majors.  I think where I get the most confidence is the way I've been playing since April or May.  And with getting my first win at Quail Hollow, I think that's definitely where I'll draw the most confidence and the way I've been playing versus seeing which guys have won and knowing how strong the fields are.  Just knowing that I've been playing well and it's been recent, that's definitely where I'll be drawing on most.

Q.  Just as a follow‑up, curious to get your thought, 15 straight different major champions.  Is that a good thing for the game?  Do you think it's better for the game to see domination from one player?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I think you can argue it both ways.  I think it's fun knowing going into the week that there's a full field of guys and almost anyone can win.  Not saying, okay, there's a 50 percent chance that this guy is going to win this week, we'll try to give him a run, if not we'll play for second.  As a player I think it's a lot more fun playing against a handful of guys fighting it out for a championship versus trying to beat down one guy and play for second in a way.

Q.  On a less serious note, when with can we look forward to another song by the Golf Boys?
RICKIE FOWLER:  It's in the works.  Nothing set right now but it's definitely something the four of us want to do.  We had a lot of fun doing the first one, raised some good money for charity.  The four of us all like having fun, and who knows how goofy and fun it will be the next time.  It's in the works but nothing set right now.

Q.  I read somewhere that last year's Open on the Saturday that you watched a bit of Tom Watson's round in the worst of the conditions and the way he embraced the horrible conditions; is that true?  Did you learn something from the way he just sort of got on with it?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, my caddie came to me, we were in the locker room before going out and watched Tom Watson hit a few shots, since he was out a little bit before me.  He just looked like he was hitting his shot and walking forward and moving on.  And my caddie, Joe, just said to me, just we need to go out today and just‑‑ it's going to be tough.  Some guys aren't going to like it, but if we can go out and make some fun of it and keep moving forward we could make up a lot of ground, which we did.
I knew it was important to go out and play the first few holes solid there.  That was where a lot of it was into the wind.  And if we could get off to a decent start, we'd have a good chance of holding on and playing well.
It ended up being a lot of fun for me.  We got off to a good start and definitely made the most out of the Saturday there.

Q.  Just as a follow‑up, Phil Mickelson said it took him years to learn how to play links golf and enjoy it.  You seem to have learnt and enjoyed it right from the start.
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah, I have had, I guess, a fair amount of success with links golf with the little bit of links golf that I have played over the past few years, mainly starting with Walker Cup where I played well at County Down.  And I've had a lot of good rounds over here in The Open Championship.
Maybe if I didn't turn around from the 79 at St.Andrews, and struggled, it could have been a different story.  Since I've turned around from that, it's been a lot of fun playing over here, and I definitely enjoy links golf.

Q.  Excuse the fact this is maybe a little bit out there.  But when people talk about you, they talk about your great play first and foremost, but then again about your fashion, as well.  How important is it to you to look good on the golf course?  And how much involvement do you take with the guys at Puma over the clothes and things that you wear?
RICKIE FOWLER:  It's definitely been a good partnership for both Puma and I, been a great fit both ways.  I feel I'm a good fit for the brand and I feel like I'm able to express my personality through my clothes without having to try.  I don't necessarily try and look good, I just wear what feels good to me and have fun with it.
Like I said, it's been a lot of fun working with them, being able to have a say in kind of what goes on and what I get to wear.  Like I said, just kind of showing off who I am and having fun with it.

Q.  Can I get your reaction to tournament organisers intent to crack down on slow play.  They announced today they really want to go after offenders who are way too slow.  Threeballs have to be played in four and a half hours, twoballs in three hours 45 minutes.  Can I just get your reaction to this?
RICKIE FOWLER:  You know, I definitely think that‑‑ well, slow play is‑‑ it's around, and there's definitely guys that play faster than others.  I feel like it's something I won't have to worry about as much as other guys.  I've been a fast player for a long time.  So‑‑ but, yeah, I definitely think that there is some common sense that will have to be used at times where certain things take a little bit longer than others.
But it wouldn't be a bad thing to see the game speed up a little bit.  There's no reason to have waits on tees when you're playing twosomes.  Never see it at home at Medalist when we're playing twosomes.  We're not waiting.
I definitely think things can be sped up a little bit, and some guys end up playing a little better when they end up on the clock and have to move through the process a little quicker and maybe not think as much.

Q.  The English have had a crop of players, either No.1 in the world or very close to in the World Rankings, whereas American players have been winning majors lately.  What's the difference being No.1 in the world in your eyes and winning a major and sealing the deal?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I definitely think that over the past year or so, getting some of the American guys to win some majors, sneaking back into the top 10 and trying to take over the top spot in the World Ranking, there's definitely been a bit of a rivalry for the top spots and the amount of guys on the top 10 the past couple years with guys like Rory, Luke and Lee playing as well as they have been.
Those guys have played really consistent, and it definitely shows with where they're ranked in the world.  Consistency is key.  But at the same time if you want to be the best player in the world, I think it is a part consistency combined with winning.

Q.  Just as a follow‑up to that, will that spice up the Ryder Cup later on do you think, the fact that you've got yourself and Webb and Bradley on the rise?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I don't think the Ryder Cup needs any help.  It's going to be spiced up no matter what.  It's a great event.  I enjoyed my time there almost two years ago over here.  And I look forward to having the chance to play this year and enjoy it at home in the States.
I don't think‑‑ it definitely doesn't need any help, but there's going to be a great event this year and a good competition.

Q.  I read somewhere that you allowed yourself taught.  Is that true, and why is that the case?
RICKIE FOWLER:  I worked with a guy from when I was about seven on through high school.  But he was a very old‑school guy, never used video or anything like that.  So basically learned the game as you would if it would have been 1950 versus 1995.  So it was a great way for me to be brought up, a very different way in today's day and age.
But I think it's a huge credit to who I am now and I guess the creativity I have and the way I like to play and one of the reasons why I love links golf.

Q.  What's the difference in say 1950s?  What methods there did he use?
RICKIE FOWLER:  He was a big Ben Hogan believer.  That was the way I was taught was very old‑school, fundamentals of golf and figure out how to hit the golf shot.

Q.  Of the eight rounds you've played in The Open, could you tell us what were the worst conditions you experienced and how you managed to get your head around it?
RICKIE FOWLER:  The worst conditions, hands down, last year on Saturday.  Probably second hardest for me was Friday at St. Andrews when it was blowing pretty hard.  I went out and played really well.  I knew I was going to have to put up a number to have a chance to make the cut.
So playing in tough conditions, knowing that I had to shoot a number it was tough.  And then last year playing in by far the toughest conditions I've seen over here, knowing that I had a chance to move up if I played well.  Kind of two different scenarios, but luckily came out on the right end on both of them.

Q.  Do you think in those circumstances that certain players can beat themselves, they can just set themselves out of it because it's blowing and it's wet and it's horrible?
RICKIE FOWLER:  Yeah.  Some guys don't like playing in poor weather.  Some may not have‑‑ whether they like it or not, maybe go out and make a couple of big numbers to start off early and it's hard to fight back and make birdies in tough conditions.  So that's why I was talking about getting off to a solid start the last year, the first five or six holes there.
I knew if I could do that it would give me the momentum to carry on the round.  But I definitely think that there are guys that either get off to a tough start or not looking at the weather the right way and may kind of beat themselves before they tee off.
MIKE WOODCOCK:  Well, Rickie, thanks very much for taking the time, and best of luck this week.

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