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Even elite pros like Fowler learning on the fly

For fourth-ranked Rickie Fowler, fatigue certainly wasn't an issue when he traveled to Abu Dhabi and won two weeks ago. What he has learned over the years, though, is that three straight tournaments is his max before he needs a break. David Cannon/Getty Images

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rickie Fowler is out to prove this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open that traveling and winning isn't like oil and water.

He showed two weeks ago that he could fly halfway around the world to Abu Dhabi and win, topping Jordan Spieth among others, at the HSBC Golf Championships. But after an 18-hour flight to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open last week, Fowler struggled and missed the cut.

This week, however, as he has worked to catch up on his sleep, Fowler is coming to the end of a three-week stretch that pushes his limit on how many consecutive tournaments he'll play. Even with all the air miles he has covered in the past few weeks, Fowler is hoping to prove last week was an anomaly this season.

"I felt like last week I wasn't far off," Fowler said. "I mean, a few putts go in and I'm actually in a good position.

"Excited to pick that back up this week. So, the travel part of it, obviously I went over there and played well. It's no reason why you can't travel and play well, but the biggest thing is just the rest side of it, and make sure the body is ready."

Fowler believes continuing his workouts and getting daily treatment played a major factor in him staying well-rested after his Middle East trip. He slept "pretty well" on the flight back from Abu Dhabi and kept last Monday and Tuesday in San Diego "pretty light." He had a junior clinic Monday but that was the extent of his obligations. Overall, he felt he managed his rest "great" in Southern California.

By time the tournament started Thursday, Fowler felt "good," he said.

He doesn't regret his trip to Abu Dhabi, especially because he won.

"Definitely not looking back at that as it was a bad thing that I had a lot of travel," he said. "I was ready to go Thursday and we did a good job managing that."

Returning stateside last week was an adjustment, though. In some ways, he said it was easier dealing with a 12-hour time change than the three-hour difference when he travels from the West Coast to the East Coast.

Instead of going to bed too late and waking up too early, as would be the case with a cross-country trip, Fowler was tired at opposite times of the day.

"That was one bonus," he said. "It worked the same way coming back, as well. I was tired early at night and then able to wake up in the morning. It was typically toward the afternoon where you start to feel a little bit of a crash."

Learning how to manage, or even limit, his travel was a process, Fowler said.

As a rookie in 2010, Fowler played in five straight tournaments going from Northern California to Las Vegas to Malaysia to China to Orlando, Florida. That run was a product of his own success, he said. But he also learned his limits that season.

"Kind of figured out, OK, that's a little much," he said.

"You definitely live and learn a little bit maybe what your limitations are and how much you can fit in and whether it's a month, two months, or how much you want to travel throughout the year."

He said he won't play more than three tournaments in a row, which means next weekend, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, is off for him.

There's an allure of traveling that's tough to fend off sometimes. Fowler likes experiencing different cultures, trying new food and simply seeing different parts of the world.

"But there's definitely time management and understanding," he said, "finding out the limitations."