Rickie Fowler: Round One Flash Interview
Q. Is that a tribute to Payne Stewart?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yes, for me Payne was one of my all time favorite players. I never had a chance of meeting him, but obviously loved watching him play and loved how he handled himself on and off the golf course. And hearing from guys that have been out here for a while that knew Payne well, hearing from them how great a guy he was on the course and off. Cool to be in the position I'm in to wear some attire like he used to wear, to give tribute to him. Obviously he had a special week here in '99. And I'm off to a decent start. It was cool to get the comments from fans out there walking down holes. Definitely a special day.
RICKIE FOWLER: Anything you can think of. Shouting out Payne's name to "Nice Nickers, nice socks, nice outfit." Cool when I was walking off 1, when I made the turn, someone yelled out "Rickie Stewart." It was cool to walk around and be in the middle of it and kind of share it with the fans.
RICKIE FOWLER: No, I didn't let really anyone know. I talked to the people at Puma, and this was a few months back, about doing it. And just thought it was fitting and thought it would be really cool to be able to do it. I don't think anyone outside really my family, the people at Puma, a couple close friends, probably ten people actually knew I was going to wear this today. I tried to keep it as quiet as possible.
Q. Will you keep wearing that motif? Will you change colors?
RICKIE FOWLER: This was just to come out of the gates today. I think I'm back to pants tomorrow.
Q. When was the last time you wore pleats?
RICKIE FOWLER: The last time I wore pleats was probably in the Walker Cup. I was forced to.
Q. '99, what do you remember of that?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think everyone remembers Payne's putt on 18. That's what you think about. I watched a bit of it then. But I think there's very -- not very few, but there's a few points that I can look back and remember exactly where I was and what I was doing and what was going on. And one of those is when the plane crash happened. And he was definitely someone I looked up to and one of my favorite players.
Q. Where were you?
RICKIE FOWLER: I was just getting off school. I was on College Road sitting in the back seat with my mom and sister in the car.
Q. Since he was your hero, what was your reaction?
RICKIE FOWLER: I started crying in the car. I wasn't -- I was still in middle school. But, yeah, he was someone that I looked up to. I think it was tragic to the whole golf world.
Q. Having that as a memory and doing this today, does (inaudible)?
RICKIE FOWLER: It was really special, just because the fans were saying so much, making comments out there, just kind of made me remember and think about Payne and seeing the reactions from fellow players walking in the locker room this morning. Phil obviously a good buddy of mine, and him kind of noticing and giving a smile, a thumbs up. I think everyone really liked it. So I think it came across well.
Q. What was the best player reaction you got?
RICKIE FOWLER: I think -- well, Phil this morning in the locker room, just because he was right there with Payne in '99. So I was waiting to see what I might get out of him today.
Q. Did you consider wearing the Payne hat at all?
RICKIE FOWLER: No, I was sticking to flat bill the whole time. I'm not sure how I would look and how we would work that out with Puma or Cobra. I'm sure we could find a way to make it. But I think the outfit did all right today.
Q. Are you pleased with how you played and what your result was?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I played really well today, very solid. I parred the first ten holes and kind of got going from there and made a couple. Had a three-putt and tough bogey on my last. I had a plugged lie. All in all, it was probably the worst I could have shot. So very pleased with the ball-striking. I think I hit around 12 fairways, 15 greens, which is pretty good around this place.
Q. You walked up to see that lie on, I think it was, No. 9, what goes through your head?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, obviously double bogey is very much in play there. I thought if I could get a roll at three, great. If we got out of there with four, that's fine.
Q. How is your progress with Butch?
RICKIE FOWLER: It's ongoing. Every player is working on something, trying to get better. It's been good. I think our main goal was to be ready for Augusta and to be ready to play the majors this year and to use other tournaments to obviously try and improve the game and get moving forward. I finished fifth at Augusta and got some good work in the past couple of weeks. Got some swings in and repetition at Memphis. I'd never played there before, just to go out and making sure I was trusting it, going through the process, and we're off to a good start here.
Q. Is there a part of your game that you pattern after Payne's?
RICKIE FOWLER: Not necessarily. Everyone is a different player. But maybe more on how he handled himself as a person, who he was, and how he was on and off the golf course.
Q. People always say you need experience, how do you explain you, Hideki and Jordan playing so well together today?
RICKIE FOWLER: We got off to a good start. And I think the three of us were feeding off each other. I'm definitely the oldest guy in the group. So I've got more experience, so technically I should do better. But they both got me today. So I think this is my sixth Open, if I'm correct. And started to feel really comfortable in Majors. Obviously Jordan has kind of come out and skipped all the hazing and he's kind of gone right into it, he's not having any trouble. Hideki is playing well and got his first win at Memorial. They're very accomplished young players, and the golf ball doesn't know how old you are. So we're going to go out there and battle it out.
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, obviously Jordan is one of the top players in the world right now. Hideki obviously moving up the world ranks. And I've kind of been hanging around -- working on this year, and getting things going in the right direction. We're going to be playing against each other for a long time. And it's fun to be able to get ourselves in contention at Majors. There are so many good young players out right now, we're starting to get into the scene a little bit. We're trying to take some of the Majors away from some of the older guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports