What they said: Rickie FowlerJanuary 25, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
MORE INTERVIEWS: Farmers Insurance Open transcript archive
DOUG MILNE: Rickie Fowler, thanks for joining us. Starting your 2012 PGA TOUR season off here at the Farmers Insurance Open. Obviously, a special week for you with your connections to the area. I was reading in the paper about what a wall?to?wall week it's been so far and the tournament hasn't even started. Just a few comments on the week and how you're feeling starting the TOUR season?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, it's a lot of fun for me to start my year here at Farmers at Torrey. It's one of my favorite stops on TOUR. Nice to start at home with friends and family around. It's definitely been a busy week so far, and looking forward to actually being able to relax come a little later today and get ready for the tournament.
So it's probably been more busy leading up to the tournament than it will be during the week. Really looking forward to opening it up here this week. Like I said, it's definitely one of my favorite stops on the TOUR.
Q. What would it mean for you to get your first win here at Torrey Pines, if it were to come here??
RICKIE FOWLER: It would be a very successful week for me. Obviously, that's one of my main goals going into the year is getting my first win on the PGA TOUR. And to be able to do it here in San Diego, close to home where I'd have a lot of friends and family out would be huge.
Obviously, I kind of started my somewhat of a?? my first start in a professional event was the 2008 U.S. Open here. So it would be very special to have my first win here at Torrey for the Farmers.
Q. Do you feel pressure at all about that first one? We read so much about Caroline Wozniacki being unable to win a major and how that weighs on her. Does it weigh on you at all that you don't want to be the guy who is really good but who can't win?
RICKIE FOWLER: I don't think anyone wants to be that guy. Luckily, I have a win under my belt now. I was able to get that taken care of in Korea, and I had a great week there. But for the most part I'm not too worried about what goes on outside the ropes as much as what I'm focused on.
I think I put a lot more pressure on myself with the goals that we had set for the year with one being getting my first PGA TOUR win, playing well through the FedExCup series and then making the Ryder Cup team.
So I've got a lot to think about on my own, and not going to worry too much outside of that.
Q. When you turned pro, did you expect to have won an event here by now on the PGA TOUR, I mean??
RICKIE FOWLER: I knew it was possible. I knew it was going to be hard. But realistically I didn't know if I was going to be, when I did turn pro in September of '09 after the Walker Cup, I didn't have status. I didn't know where I'd be playing.
I knew it was going to be tough to be on the PGA TOUR and playing, and to be playing the Ryder Cup a year after was a huge success.
I didn't have any set timeline on when I needed to win by. I felt that I went out and played really well and to be where I am today, it's been a huge success. I guess kind of the one thing that just needs to be done. I'm going to get my first win out of the way, and like I said, that's one of my main goals going into this year.
Q. Can you talk a bit about the process of changing equipment? I know how difficult it is for pros to change equipment. One, why did you change, how much did you change? What are the changes you've got for tomorrow?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, luckily I was in a pretty easy position changewise. Well, the switch over to Cobra, obviously it's a great fit with Puma. Puma took over Cobra just about a year ago. To continue the partnership there, it's going to be a lot of fun and looking forward to the future.
Outside of that, still continuing my great relationship with Titleist. It's still on playing the ball and the glove. A big part of the change was still having the same ball that I've played for quite some time. So I didn't have to worry about two different things being changed. It made the transition, I think, a lot easier for me.
The guys at Cobra did a great job getting irons and building them to be as close to almost identical to what I was playing before. That was like basically putting in a new set of irons that I've been playing prior.
Outside of those six irons, the driver, I was able to get in after a couple of days of testing. I started testing right around the Shark Shootout, just after that.
Like I said, I went through about three different fittings just to kind of narrow things down. First one stuck with pretty stock settings that were built similar to a driver that I'd been playing. Wasn't perfect. Went back to the guys and told them what I thought. We built some more. Hit those, got a lot closer. Then the third session I think we nailed it, and that's what I'll be playing this week.
As for the 3?wood, it was just brought to me actually maybe two weeks ago. Really liked the look of it, which obviously in a lot of clubs, when you look down at a club, and if it looks good, it makes it a lot easier to hit. So the look had a lot to do with it. I've been hitting it well.
So the process of changing what's definitely helped me is being able to have the same ball in play, but also to have the guys at Cobra definitely did their homework and made the transition a lot easier for me.
Q. You make your living with these clubs. How much apprehension did you have knowing you were going to switch??
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I knew it's obviously a process. It's not easy. But at the same time, a lot of guys are going through equipment changes throughout the year, even with the same company. I mean, you see it with Titleist. They come out with a driver every year or two. Taylor Made even more so. So guys are constantly working into equipment.
But I think in today's day and age, the process of making clubs and being able to make them basically exact replicas of what you're playing prior has made the switching a lot easier. So they're able to nail that down almost identical to clubs that I was using earlier or clubs that guys were using earlier.
Q. What did you learn from the win in Korea??
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, my win in Korea was kind of the first time I played four solid rounds of golf. Friday there I was struggling a bit, but I found a way to get it into the clubhouse without wasting any shots. I was able to get the most out of the round possible. Then outside of that, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, I played really well.
Sunday, I bogeyed the last two holes, but I didn't really make any bad swings. I had too good of a lie on 18, and I happened to hit a ball kind of off the top of the face on a hybrid when I was going for the green in two. Luckily I had plenty of cushion there.
So it was a great feeling to finally put four rounds together, and the amount of focus and confidence I had throughout the week definitely going to draw off that and trying to get in the same frame of mind the whole year.
Q. The Q?school stuff has been talked about for about a year now. Has your opinion on it changed at all, and is it starting to seem like it's kind of inevitable?
RICKIE FOWLER: It definitely seems like they're leaning for the switch. Not so much change. I know that the Nationwide Tour is a definite concern. It needs to stay around. It's definitely a breeding ground for PGA TOUR players in a way. Not that everyone comes through there, but you see guys play well out there and they come on to the TOUR and have success here.
I mean, Jhonattan Vegas last year came out and won pretty quickly. But for me it's a tough situation because you want the Nationwide Tour around and you want to have the title sponsor. At the same time, you want to have that open door for the local club pro to be able to make it into the final stage and have his chance of making it on the PGA TOUR.
It's a tough situation. I think that Commissioner Finchem is trying to do his best and has done a great job with all of the decision that's he has made as commissioner. The TOUR is definitely in a great spot. Hopefully we can figure things out going forward.
It's tough. I mean, he's not in an easy spot, and we're trying to work it out.
Q. Peter's starting in Europe. If you had turned pro and are facing a mandatory time on the Nationwide Tour, would of thought about going to Europe and getting back on the TOUR and top 50 and that kind of stuff??
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, definitely. Not that the Nationwide Tour is a bad starting point. But if you look world rankings or anything like that, it can hurt you to play a year or two on the Nationwide Tour. It's tough to battle back versus getting a start.
In some European Tour events, you played well over there, and it's definitely going to have a bigger bump in the world ranking versus playing well in a Nationwide Tour event. So Peter's, I think, made a good decision. He's over there, and hopefully he gets plenty of starts and he's able to put a full year together. I think that's huge on getting started, because he's able to get into a rhythm and hopefully play well.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about appearance fees this week. What is your thought on golfers getting appearance fees to play??
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I mean, we're playing for a lot of money. I feel like that's enough at some point. I'm not against it. Definitely it can help some tournaments grow, especially some of the tournaments in Asia that don't get some of the stronger fields.
They've attracted some pretty elite players and been able to strengthen the tournament. Obviously, it has, in a way, a direct economic growth for the community that the tournament's in.
I don't know. I guess I'm pretty new to it, so I'm probably not the best person to ask about it, but maybe I'll know a little bit more in a few years.
Q. I can't help but notice you and your flashy outfit here, and obviously that is the way you dress. What is your philosophy on that when you go out on to the golf course and the way you present yourself??
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, it's just me. Puma's been a great fit for me. They're kind of the non?traditional, off the wall, fun brand. Me off the course and on the course, that's who I am. I like to just have a good time, whether I'm at home riding bikes or on the dirt bike or on the course trying to make birdies. I guess, the best word is non?traditional.
You don't see a whole lot of guys wearing these color pants, but it's a way for me to be myself and just show who I am.
Q. Are you trying to reach out to the younger generation of golfers, the guys your age, maybe younger that some of the quote unquote old folks on TOUR may not be able to reach??
RICKIE FOWLER: I wouldn't say that I'm trying to do it, but that's kind of the age group that I guess can relate to me. So when I can relate to them, then I try and reach out to them and definitely get them involved. Like yesterday we did a junior clinic for Farmers, and I have a lot of fun doing that.
It's pretty cool to be in a position where I can go give my time and it's worth something to be able to give back to whether it be to charity or a junior clinic like that where you go and hang out with 2 or 300 kids and make their day. So I can't complain with the position I'm in.
Q. Do you think rapping and YouTube videos might improve your street cred with some of the younger generation??
RICKIE FOWLER: As long as they don't take it too seriously. I know between me and my fellow band members, we're not taking things too seriously when we're making a music video. We're definitely not trying to be good. We know we're not. We're just having fun, showing people that we're just like anyone else. We're goofy and willing to make random music videos.
Q. We're live on a couple of holes this week on PGATOUR.COM. I'd like to ask you a couple questions about those holes. First would be the 13th hole, the par?5, and they've got those two tees all the way up it's 540, all the way back it's like 614 yards. I wondered if you can just kind of take us from tee to green on that hole?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, number 13's a great hole. All the way back, it's for the most part a three?shot par?5, unless the fairways firm up and you catch it downwind. Today the tee was back and missed the fairway and had somewhat of a tough lay?up.
So back tee you're trying to hit the fairway to make the lay?up easy, and then you're able to have a wedge in, but you're hitting from the middle of a valley up to a green that you can't see.
So it makes it a tough hole. If you do hit the fairway you get an easier lay?up, but then you have a tough wedge shot from, I don't know, 50 feet below the green. Then you play the tee up, you're trying to hit one good and hit the fairway so you can go for it in two. If you don't, it's not too hard of a lay?up, because it's not very far to go. Whereas the back tee, you're trying to hit one at least 150, 160 yards, maybe more, for a lay?up and out of this rough this week that's not an easy task.
It's a lot more of a fun hole from the front tee because you're able to have a chance to go at it in two and make a number there. So it's definitely one of my favorite holes on the course.
Q. To follow up, the same sort of strategy there, how you would play number 16, the par?3. They're split tees over there as well.
RICKIE FOWLER: Number 16's a very tough par?3. The green slopes back?to?front, and somewhat from the sides in. So it's kind of a bowl just with the front of the green sloping back at you. So if you miss the green, you're going to have a pretty quick chip to the pin, especially short sided. So middle of the green there, and the two?putt, walk out, I'll be happy all week.