2014 PGA Championship Round 2 interview with: RICKIE FOWLER
KELLY ELBIN: In with 5 under par 66 in the second round of the 2014 PGA Championship, Rickie Fowler joins us.
You had quite a stretch of holes from 4 through 11, no pars on the scorecard, only one par over the first 11 holes and birdie on 18. If you can give some comments on what was the most interesting round of 66 to put you just two shots out of the lead.
RICKIE FOWLER: Let's see, those bogeys, it would have been nice to get rid of the squares on the front nine. I had a short putt on 6 that I just misread across the hole, five feet or so. I had two makeable putts on 2 and 9 and hit good putts that just don't go in.
Round could have been better but obviously pleased with it and the position going into the weekend. A few things we can improve on but ball striking was nice today. Drove it fairly well and missed a couple fairways just by a little bit. Getting the ball up and down and making some good putts. So if we can clean a few things up, it can be a pretty fun and exciting weekend.
KELLY ELBIN: For the record, 24 putts today, if you can go over the birdies and bogeys please.
RICKIE FOWLER: 1, I hit a nice wedge down there, I guess it was maybe four feet.
Bogey at 2. Drove it left. Hit it short in the bunker out to about 12 feet and just misread it a touch.
4, driver and a flip wedge, made about, I guess it was seven feet ish. Next hole, driver and gap wedge to about 12 feet left of the hole and made it.
6, I hit it just in the left rough with 3 wood. Hit it just long right, right where I wanted to. Hit a pitch just how I wanted to and like I said, missed about a five, 6 footer there.
7, hit driver, 5 wood short right and made a 12 footer up the hill for birdie.
8, hit a great shot, 8 iron, to about four feet just right above the hole.
9, somehow I hit a wedge a long ways and ended up on the back of the green and almost an impossible first putt and missed about an 8 footer for par there.
10, just hit driver, laid up and had I think 80 yards or so and made about a 10 footer.
11, probably my best swing of the day, 7 iron to a couple inches. I made that one.
And then 18, driver and then hit a little 5 wood up there just left of the green. Decided to putt it from right about seven or eight yards of fringe to go through and got it up there to another gimmie birdie.
Q. You've obviously had great results in majors this year. What does that do for your comfort level here going into the weekend playing late again?
RICKIE FOWLER: Very comfortable. I'm pleased with where my game's at, and with the three finishes I've had in the Majors this year, it's been a lot of fun to go through each one and to come out and reflect on each one, as well. And it feels like I've gotten better at each one, and I have felt more and more comfortable every time.
I feel good with the course here at Valhalla. It's in great shape. Unfortunately with the rain it kind of softened it up a bit today but I'm sure they will get it drained out and hopefully we don't get anymore rain and it will get a little firmer over the weekend.
It's been a fun year for the majors. I'm excited for the weekend.
Q. How has Butch helped you with your mental approach for tournaments like this?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, with him on the team and as well as going through things with my caddie and just a few people around me, just trying to make things as efficient as possible; whether it was the golf swing with Butch or going through things how we prepped the week of and the week prior and getting ready for Majors.
The main goal going into the year when I started working with Butch was to be ready to go play well at Augusta and contend there, and we did just that. And a lot of it was the weeks leading up and playing the week prior to kind of go through a bit of a checklist and check and see where the game was, what needed a little bit of work. Maybe spend a little bit more time on a certain thing, and that way, I didn't have as much prep work the week of an event. I would go out, figure out my game plan for the golf course and make things as easy as possible the first few days so I could relax and get ready to play on Thursday.
Q. After being here three times previously and reflecting on that, is there something that you can pinpoint might make the difference to get you over the hump from second or third to first?
RICKIE FOWLER: Not exactly. I mean, if I had figured that out, I would have won the last two Majors maybe.
It's tough. Guys are playing well right now with Martin winning the U.S. Open; he distanced himself a bit from the field, and Rory put himself out into a pretty good lead and made it tough to catch him, especially the way he's been driving the ball there, and last week winning the WGC.
I have to just keep going through the process and focus on hitting every golf shot. This week my mental approach will be making the right decisions and that I'm fully committed to hitting the golf shot at that time.
Q. Maybe you're going to play with Rory tomorrow, we don't know yet, but in previous years, golfers have been sick about talking about Tiger all the time and now you're being asked about Rory all the time; what do you think about that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I won't play with him tomorrow. Ryan Palmer came in before me from the morning wave and I know Jason possibly.
KELLY ELBIN: Jason is at 8 so he'll play with Rory.
RICKIE FOWLER: Jason birdied the last two holes. He's pretty good.
Rory has been playing very well, and it's been fun to play with him a bit. Played the final round at The Open. Played at home in Jupiter; we had some fun down there, and then played a few holes in a practice round at the WGC.
It's been fun and hopefully we can put some good rounds together and possibly in the final group on Sunday. I look forward to him and I kind of growing the friendship and also kind of growing the rivalry between us. I know it's going to be fun to be able to do stuff together, but also try and beat up on each other at the same time. Whether we get in the final group here again and possibly have a battle; there's a lot of other good players on the leaderboard, and it's going to be a fun weekend here.
But back to Rory. He's the best player in the world right now, and I would say a lot of that is his confidence right now with the way he's driving the ball. If he continues to drive it, he's going to continue to be in contention at a lot of golf tournaments and win a lot of times.
Q. Bubba Watson has taken a few hits this week, starting with the Long Drive and today there were some articles that came out about stuff he was doing on the course. As his friend, I was wondering if you might be able to offer some insight; do you think he's getting a bum rap? Do you think people don't know Bubba well enough?
RICKIE FOWLER: Bubba's Bubba. He's kind of hard to explain. I love him. He's one of my best friends. I enjoy spending time with him.
You know, there's times where he may say some stuff or do some stuff that a lot of people don't see eye to eye with him. I know he can get a little fiery on the golf course. And a lot of it is just him trying to motivate himself in a way. I know it kind of sounds weird with some of the stuff he says and some of the stuff, how he talks down to himself or if he gives Teddy a hard time.
You know, golfers I feel like a lot of times on the golf course, they are not trying to screw up or trying to turn the round and go the wrong way. Sometimes guys just kick themselves in the butt a little different way, and Bubba's trying to play the best golf that he can. It's tough when you're struggling. Hopefully get him turned around, because we're going to need him at The Ryder Cup.
KELLY ELBIN: You've played the par 5s in 4 under par so far. Did you have a feeling coming in that you needed to take advantage of those opportunities to have a chance?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I mean, got four out of six, so I guess that's not too bad. You know, the par 5s are definitely key, especially when you have two that are reachable. 7 is kind of one much those holes where you have the option, and I think a lot of guys that can hit the ball a decent ways to a lot of guys that can drive the ball a long ways, that's the big advantage when you can hit it up the left fairway and have a hole that is reachable.
So I'm pleased with 4 under through six par 5s, if I'm seeing them right. And if I can continue to do that through the weekend, make things a lot easier and I can maybe try and pick off a few others out there.
Q. A lot of guys are either trying to play their way through injuries or going the other way like Dufner was saying, I'm not going to play until I'm healthy again. Last year you had the back issue and you maybe tried to play through it. Why did you make that decision and how tough is it for a golfer to play with an injury like that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, the biggest thing for me, the No. 1 reason I kept playing, was to try and make The Ryder Cup Team. It was in the first part of it started hurting really in kind of May of 2012 and through that summer was when I was around kind of the breaking point, whether I was going to get in on points. Obviously I wanted to play well enough to make it on points, and if not, play well enough to show that I was ready to play on The Ryder Cup Team, and I wasn't able to do that.
That was really the main reason I played was to try and be on The Ryder Cup Team and possibly go and help the guys. But I wasn't in the position to do that.
Now, if it wouldn't have been a Ryder Cup year, and maybe not playing through the FedExCup Playoffs, I may have rested and taken a different route. So maybe some guys try and make The Ryder Cup Team right now; I know Dufner is in a spot that he has not played very well as of late and you pretty much know exactly why. So it's kind of tough. It's different in certain situations. Some things you can kind of play through. Some things really do just need rest and that's the only way it can heal.
It's tough. I've been in that position and it's not fun.
KELLY ELBIN: Rickie Fowler, two shots back in the PGA Championship. Thank you, Rickie.
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RICKIE FOWLER: Feeling pretty good with the game, played quite well today. Few bogeys on the front 9. I hit really good putts that I felt should have went in. I guess I misread them a little bit.
Other than that, a lot of good birdies, hit a couple of close ones, made a really good swing on 11.
Probably one of my better putts of the day was 17, saving par there. Pleased with today, pleased with where my game is at. Excited to get things going tomorrow.
Q. Usually Saturday is the pivotal day of the game, how important is it for you to post a good one tomorrow?
RICKIE FOWLER: Assuming we continue to get scorable conditions, I feel like obviously shooting something under par is going to be what we need to do. I obviously can't go out and force it. Just have to stick with what we've been doing and going through the process before each shot and not get ahead of ourselves.
I definitely feel like there is a low one out there. You see Rory playing quite well. A lot of guys posting good numbers today. I was able to throw quite a few birdies out there today, too.
You can never predict a score, but looking forward to getting out there with where my game is out right now and where it's been in the majors, see if we can go ahead and get ourselves a weekend this weekend.
Q. How much will that experience (inaudible)?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I'd say each major I've felt more and more comfortable. From the Masters is the most comfortable I had felt in a major and at Augusta, and then being in the final group at the U.S. Open, and then another final group with Rory at The Open. I felt more comfortable there than I did with Martin.
It doesn't feel like a big stage. I feel like I'm out there having fun. Like I said, I like where my game is at. It will be a battle this weekend. I'm looking forward to it. We'll see how many guys we can get to jump on and see who comes out on top.
Q. You said earlier this week you look forward to more battles with Rory down the stretch?
RICKIE FOWLER: We'll see. Rory is obviously on top of his game right now. He's been driving the ball very well. When he does that, it kind of alleviates any stress from anywhere else and he's able to go full throttle and not really let up. So we'll see if we can if him and I can go out put some good rounds tomorrow. Maybe he and I can be in the final group on Sunday. Never know, it will be fun.
The Open definitely wasn't the last final group him of a major that him and I will be apart of. Maybe we'll get another one for Sunday.
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