CHASKA, Minn. – When the opening foursomes pairings were announced, it was a mild surprise to see Phil Mickelson in the second group off alongside Rickie Fowler.
After all, Mickelson has struggled in the alternate-shot format throughout his Ryder Cup career (4-6-4), and last week at the Tour Championship he finished last in driving accuracy. But apparently there was no way that Mickelson would begin these matches on the bench.
“Certainly I felt more pressure heading into today’s matches,” he said, “given the buildup over the last couple of years, the criticism, the comments. I could have copped out and asked to sit, but that would have been a total weak move, and I wanted to get out there. Put me out there. I enjoy that pressure.”
Mickelson admitted that he was “tight” at the beginning of their match against Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan, but he and Fowler won three consecutive holes on Nos. 15-17 to take the match, 1 up.
“This guy loosened me up,” he said, nodding at Fowler. “I wanted him as my partner. He knows what to say and when to say it. He got some of my best golf out there in the end.”
Both Mickelson and Fowler sat in the afternoon, with the Americans staked to a 4-0 lead.