Rickie Fowler is trying to be both friendly and cleanly in wake of coronavirus

March 11, 2020

Rickie Fowler climbed into the stands next to the first tee at Liberty National during the second day of the 2017 Presidents Cup. He took selfies with fans following his morning match. He joined in chants. Fowler is fan friendly, and this was him at his fan friendliest.

He’s now also trying to be cleanliest.

As he prepares for this week’s Players Championship, Fowler said he’s been more cautious with his interactions with the fans because of the outbreak of the coronavirus. He signs autographs only after a round. A fist bump has replaced a high-five. And his hands get a good scrub.

“I would say probably taking a little bit more precaution than normal,” Fowler said. “But over the years, I think I’ve gone — I’ve become more and more kind of cautious of how I’ve interacted as far as high-fives or maybe any kind of — yeah high-five to fist bump, anything that goes on throughout the round. Early in my career, I felt like there was a lot more of that, which led to — not saying it was a direct reflection of it, but sick more often.

“So for me, usually try not to do anything really on course at all, and then with the autograph area setup, it’s really where I’ll kind of direct all signing to and that way I am really in control of how it’s done and I can kind of hang in one spot, and I mean, I’ve always signed with my own pens and stuff like that, so it’s not necessarily a change, but you’re still having contact, whether you use people’s Sharpies or pens, you’re still getting their stuff. But if I can do it after the round or when I’m done with my practice or whatever it may be, I can go ahead and sign and then if there’s hand sanitizer to be able to go to the restroom and wash up afterwards.”

Fowler gave his fans plenty to cheer about in 2015 at the Players. He finished birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie to make a playoff. Then he birdied the famous island-green 17th twice in that extra time to prevail. All of which makes him confident heading into Thursday.

“The golf course, if you look at it properly, it’s fairly straightforward — hit it in the fairway, hit it on the green, wear out the fairways and greens,” Fowler said. “But there’s a lot of other things that come into play — plenty of water, a lot of bunkers, a lot of funky little ones. And honestly, I’m not happy unless there’s sand in my pants.”

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