The final tournament of the PGA tour won’t be par for the course for Rickie Fowler. The top ranked golfer — who made headlines last year hilariously posing by himself while his teammates kissed their respective significant others — will "finally" have the support of his girlfriend Allison Stokke as he plays with Team USA in the upcoming Presidents Cup.
“It’s nice to be at a team event finally and not be the 23rd wheel,” Rickie told HELLO! ahead of the tournament, which kicks off September 26 at the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City. “I think everyone, player-wise, has a girlfriend or significant other here. So it’ll be fun. No one is the odd one out.”
Rickie confirmed his relationship with the American pole vaulter back in May on Instagram with the hashtag “#RickFoundaChick.” The 28-year-old noted that while his girlfriend is “a beginner” when it comes to golf, she has a good swing. “She’s an athlete so she has great kind of body awareness and she responds really well to any kind of coaching or critiquing I have for her. I’m just trying to be a good coach,” he said.
The athlete continued, “I think the hard part is the competitive athlete side and understanding or having to accept that it’s a slow process and it doesn’t just come super quickly but we’re having fun with it. It’s great to be able to have someone that I can share my downtime with and even time on the road having her with me.”
It’s no surprise that the athletic couple is “very competitive” with each other. “I love that. It’s a good thing. I like having that competitive side and getting the competitive juices flowing on anything from card games to messing around playing golf at home,” Rickie admitted. “You don’t want to get crazy with it but being competitive is a very good thing. You push each other to be better.”
Allison won’t be the only familiar face for Rickie at this year’s Presidents Cup. The Olympic athlete will also have his mentor and fellow golf Tiger Woods on the green. The 41-year-old, who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence earlier this year, is serving as one of Team USA’s assistants. Discussing his relationship with Tiger, Rickie said, “He’s definitely been very helpful and I feel like since over the past three, four, five years where he hasn’t really been playing as much and he’s kind of been having to deal with health issues and staying healthy and getting healthy.”
Rickie added, “[Tiger] loves the game of golf and it’s really cool to see how much these team events mean to him because I think in the past people only saw him as a competitor and not so much someone who wanted to help other guys.”
Continue reading for more on Rickie and the Presidents Cup, plus why the golfer admires Michael Phelps and Tom Brady
HELLO: How are you feeling leading up to the tournament?
"I’m feeling great. We’ve been on the road for, this is our third week in a row, but it’s kind of nice. A fun way to end the year for us, or the actual season for us. Team events are a lot different for us just because we play as individuals throughout the year so to be able to be on a team with 11 other guys and captain and assistant captains, wives and girlfriends, it’s just a fun week."
Now in the past, presidents have attended the tournament. Is there any pressure playing in front of them since many are golf fans?
"A little bit. It is pretty cool to have the Presidents Cup and it be named that to honor the office and to have so many dignitaries and presidents come and support the Presidents Cup in the past. There is a little bit of that added pressure no matter who the president is when they show up on site. Obviously there is a bit of an entourage, a presence and they definitely have that kind of energy about them because they are the president or past president. They are someone that has had a pretty significant impact on the country. It’s a cool experience."
If you could hit a bucket of balls with any living or sitting president, who would it be?
"I would probably go to 43, [George] W. Bush. I’ve been around him a bit. I haven’t played golf with him. He’s been out to a few different golf tournaments, things that we’ve done around golf, charitable things. He’s been someone that’s kind of struck me as a normal guy. He loves golf. He loves his country."
Tiger Woods is set to make an appearance at the Presidents Cup. Is he a mentor to you or do you see him as more of a competitor?
"A little bit of everything. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get quite a bit of time around Tiger. We live in the same area in Florida, so we do spend a decent amount of time together when we’re home, away from golf. From going to dinner to hanging at his house, so he’s someone that I’ve always looked up to. What he’s done on the golf course is amazing and what he’s been able to kind of drive the viewership, the fans, the TV contracts and allowing us to ultimately be able to play for more money and in front of more people. He’s had a huge impact on the game golf."
Has he ever given you advice on your game or career-wise?
"Yeah, he’s definitely been very helpful and I feel like since over the past three, four, five years where he hasn’t really been playing as much and he’s kind of been having to deal with health issues and staying healthy and getting healthy. It is kind of cool to see him taking instead of just having that competitive side to him and being just a competitor, you know him being in some assistant captain roles and having some leadership roles. He loves the game of golf and it’s really cool to see how much these team events mean to him because I think in the past people only saw him as a competitor and not so much as someone who wanted to help out other guys."
Outside of golf is there another athlete you admire like a [Tom] Brady or Michael Phelps?
"Yeah, I’ve spent a little bit of time around both of them. I’m just a sports fan in general. I admire anyone who’s been able to put the time in and effort that it takes to be the best at what they do. To see what [Tom] Brady has done to have the longevity in the career he’s been able to have and still be at the top of his game, to a guy like Michael Phelps with 23 golds. It’s fun being around guys like that because it’s almost like when the president shows up on the tee and they have that presence about them and part of that is because you know as another athlete you know what it takes to do what they’ve done and the amount of time it takes."
— USA GOLF (@USAGolf) August 5, 2016
Michael Phelps is a big golf fan. Have you ever played a game with him?
"We’ve played a little bit. Not much. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more in the future now that he’s not as busy in the water."
How was his swing when you played?
"He’s good. He can play. His golf game is only going to get better from here on out since he has more time."
Golf is a very niche market. What would say to people to encourage them to watch or play the sport?
"Well what’s great about golf is you can play it for basically your whole life. It’s one of the few sports that you can do that. I can go play golf and have a fun match or compete with someone who is 60, 70-years-old. There’s very few sports where you can go do that. Hop on a cart, have some drinks, play with some friends, have fun, but you can also play the highest level what we do on a weekly basis, but all of us still enjoy getting to go home and play with our buddies and just enjoy the game and I think the one thing like I’ve brought up is that you can do it through your whole life."