Rickie Fowler was seven years old when he declared that his future would be on the PGA Tour. Well, 17 years, a massive endorsement with Puma, a PGA Tour victory at the Wells Fargo and a host of accolades later, and the 24-year-old is living the dream.
I got the chance to chat with Rickie and learned that he doesn't eat, sleep and breathe golf. And that's perfectly fine for him. Instead, for the No. 30-ranked player in the world, the game remains his passion and priority, but he balances it with "the normal stuff," as he calls it, like fishing and catching a movie with friends.
WL: You've got a solid and distinguishable game, but nothing is more distinct than the way you dress. What goes into your tour outfits?
RF: Well, sometimes there's a lot that goes into them, and sometimes there's hardly anything at all. In terms of the majors and the Players Championship, I'll sit down with Puma and they'll have a variety of options a year in advance. We'll go through it and I'll say "yes" or "no" and basically finalize my outfits for the majors.
It's cool because I have the final say. As far as day to day goes, I get to pick and choose each outfit. I usually travel with pretty much the whole Puma line in one of my suitcases, and sometimes I'll actually ask my fans on Twitter what to wear.
WL: Thinking more as a consumer, and not a golfer, what are your favorite clothing stores and designers?
RF: Well, you know, I have to say Puma. I actually spend a little time at LuluLemon; they've got good variety and day-to-day stuff. But I wear a lot of Puma, not that I have to, but the partnership there is awesome. I have countless amounts of shoes, from golf shoes to running shoes to lifestyle shoes. It's fun to be involved in that since they've got the whole world covered.
WL: Who are the best- and worst-dressed players on the tour today?
RF: I do like what (Ian) Poulter does; there's some similarities there. One of the more traditional looks, I feel like G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) always looks put together. I can't really point fingers at worst dressed. As long as they feel like they're going to play well in their outfit, I'm all for it.
WL: Tianlang Guan just became the youngest player to ever compete at the Masters. You are already very young for the tour at just 24, so what goes through your mind when you think about the fact that he's just 14?
RF: I was actually really impressed. I met him two weeks prior when I made a trip up to Augusta with Bubba (Watson). We played two rounds, and we actually have a mutual friend, a guy I met down in Australia who is Chinese and ended up being Guan's caddie in the Par 3 Contest.
I was especially impressed because I found out that he'd only be able to hit it about 250 yards off the tee—depending on roll, maybe 260 if he's lucky. Augusta is a big course and to be at that disadvantage off the tee, he played some pretty good golf around there just to make the cut. Coming over from China too, being someone that's representing the country, and Asia as a whole in a way, it's pretty impressive to play that well.
WL: What's it like being one of the young American hopefuls to lead the future waves?
RF: It's awesome. You know, my dream—I told my parents when I was seven—that I wanted to play on the PGA Tour. Every day I get to live my dream, and now it's about moving forward and doing bigger and better things. I just need my golf to catch up, to move up in the world rankings and just become a better player week to week. And it's great because golf is definitely in a great spot with the amount of guys playing well, both Americans and worldwide.
WL: In a lot of ways, you're perceived as the American version of Rory McIlroy—just a few wins behind. Two majors, to be specific. What do you think of Rory's game and perhaps the rivalry brewing between you two?
RF: I am a few wins behind, so I've got my work cut out for me. I have a lot of respect for Rory, and he's definitely a great player. He actually lives down in Jupiter, Fla., near me. I'm looking forward to playing against him for a long time, hoping that there's a friendly rivalry. I know every time we tee it up he wants to beat me and I want to beat him as well. Hopefully, I can catch up and get some majors.
WL: Between "Dufnering," Bubba on his hovercraft and the Golf Boys video, the world is learning about a lighter side of golf through social media. How do you think that social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can help grow the game of golf?
RF: I think the social media helps people see how we are day to day as normal people. We are normal human beings who do things other than just play golf. If I post a picture out fishing three days in a row, some people tweet at me and ask "why aren't you practicing?"
But realistically I don't eat, sleep, live 24/7 golf. I have a life, a life outside of golf. I do love golf, but it's good to do other things on the side. Social media is especially good for the younger generation—people under 25 or so, who are probably my biggest following. That's where the game is going to be able to grow most right now.
WL: What was your reaction when you first heard the premise for Golf Boys?
RF: I didn't really know what to think. It was a boy band. We just sort of ran with it, and we like making random videos like that or taking funny pictures on the road. We like to show people what goes on, whether it's tournament week, going out to grab dinner, see a movie, play laser tag...you know, so we made a couple longer videos, and I guess it's had some pretty good reviews.
WL: How would you describe your involvement with Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts?
RF: This is my second year with Crowne Plaza Hotels doing TV spots. I have one with my caddie involved, which normally you don't see a lot of in commercials. But it was kind of related because the idea is I've got my caddie on the course and the Crowne Plaza staff when I'm at the hotel, that kind acts like a caddie.
They help me with everything day to day, specifically getting a good night sleep, and they actually have this Sleep Advantage program, which is awesome. So between the staff and being able to get a good night sleep, it's really all you can ask for when you're out there on the road traveling.