Fowler, at 23 the same age as world number one McIlroy, is relishing the prospect at the £5.8million Players Championship in Florida, golf's richest event.
"It's nice to finally get the first win out of the way," said Fowler, who created history in 2010 by becoming the first player to play in the Ryder Cup just a year after turning professional.
"It's not easy to win on the PGA Tour, there's a lot of great players out here, best players in the world."
Like McIlroy he has missed the cut on his two previous appearances at Sawgrass, although last year he was suffering from flu.
"I know my game is ready to play here," he added. "I'm looking forward to getting back in contention and working on my second (win). I wouldn't mind it being this weekend.
"I've obviously been around Tiger quite a bit and I played a practice round with him at the Ryder Cup. I enjoy being around him."
As regards McIlroy, they first clashed at the 2007 Walker Cup in Northern Ireland, where Fowler came out on top.
"I definitely think Rory and I have a friendly rivalry. I respect his game, I feel like he respects mine," Fowler added.
"I know he wants to beat me just as bad as I want to beat him. I think the game is in a really good state right now with the amount of good, young players that have come out lately."
One of Fowler's best friends on tour is new Masters champion Bubba Watson.
"It was definitely nice for me to be there when he won," Fowler added. "It kind of motivated me a little bit more to want to be in that situation, whether it be at a major or a PGA Tour event or wherever.
"I can definitely give some credit to Bubba for motivating me a bit and giving me kind of a kick in the butt to go out and get it done."
Fowler's distinctive caps have been going off the shelves like hot cakes at Sawgrass this week, and if he can get his name at the top of the leaderboard again the sales figure are likely to be even more impressive.