Phil Mickelson admits to feeling pressure
VETERAN Phil Mickelson admits he feels under greater pressure at Hazeltine than in any of his previous 10 Ryder Cup appearances.
The left-hander, the United States’ record appearance-maker in the event, has been the most vocal about the need for change in light of America’s recent performances as Europe chase an unprecedented fourth victory in-a-row.
His criticism of captain Tom Watson after the defeat at Gleneagles two years ago led, in part, to the setting up for the US task force to look into all aspects of preparation and performance.
Mickelson has acted almost like the team’s unofficial sixth vice-captain in the build-up and when called upon to partner Rickie Fowler in the morning foursomes at Hazeltine yesterday he was far from his best but they managed to beat Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan one-up.
“Certainly I felt more pressure heading into today’s matches,” said Mickelson, who was rested for the afternoon fourballs.
“Given the build-up over the last couple years, the criticism, the comments, what have you, the pressure was certainly as great or greater than I’ve ever felt.
“I could have copped out and asked to sit out but that would have been a totally weak move and I wanted to get out there.
“Put me out there. I enjoy that pressure.
“Certainly I played tight. This guy (Fowler) loosened me up. That’s why 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.
“Some of the iron shots down the stretch were due to things that he said to get me in the right frame of mind.”