Rickie Fowler said he knows how to push Justin Thomas to the limit and get the best out of the FedEx Cup champion after the duo helped the United States take an early lead at the Presidents Cup.
Fowler and fellow American Thomas kicked off USA’s title defence with a decisive 6 and 4 win over Hideki Matsuyama and Charl Schwartzel in New Jersey on Thursday.
That victory guided the Americans to a 3.5 – 1.5 lead over the Internationals after day one.
Friends off the course, Fowler and Thomas exuded a level of comfort that could not be matched by their opponents.
“We’re very comfortable around each other. We know our limits, in a way,” Fowler said after his round. “I can push and say stuff to [Thomas] that I know may not be the best things to other people. I know his game very well and he knows mine very well, and it’s fun to put the two together and go out and win our first team point.”
US PGA Championship holder Thomas, an unusual Presidents Cup rookie after winning five times on the PGA Tour this season, calmed his nerves to provide the US with a comfortable start.
“I knew I was going to be nervous,” Thomas said. “I knew I was going to be feeling some kind of butterflies, but they are good nerves, good butterflies. Regardless of how I feel now or down the road, Rick and I are always going to be great partners.
“But I think it was a great partnership for me just because he’s done this a lot and he probably knows how I’m going to feel and he probably knows the right things to say to me. Any time, any match, I’ll take Rick as my partner.”
Thomas and Fowler were one-hole down through two, but the latter chipped in for birdie from off the green on number three to swing momentum back their way.
“That was definitely a big turn of events,” Fowler said. “I feel like we were definitely on the better side of the hole when it comes to missing that green and I knew that as soon as [Thomas] hit it over there, I knew he wasn’t going to hit it right. That was kind of our whole goal going into the day was to manage our way around and put ourselves in the right spots.
“Felt like we did a good job of that. We didn’t put ourselves in the bad spots or the tough up-and-downs. We did a good job getting the ball up-and-down, whether it was him chipping, me chipping, him putting.”