Despite playing in 10 previous Ryder Cups, Phil Mickelson was grateful to Rickie Fowler for loosening him up at Hazeltine.
Phil Mickelson credited team-mate Rickie Fowler for helping him to deal with the greatest pressure he has ever felt on day one of the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
Mickelson and Fowler pulled off a stunning fightback against Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan on Friday, as the United States completed a clean sweep of the morning foursomes to significantly boost their hopes of a first triumph since 2008.
McIlroy and Sullivan were two up with four to play, but lost on the 18th as their opponents finished strongly following some erratic play earlier in the round.
"Certainly I felt more pressure heading into today's matches," said Mickelson, a veteran of 11 Ryder Cups who came in for criticism at Gleneagles two years ago after openly questioning the approach of USA captain Tom Watson.
"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 the morning foursomes]. That would have been a total 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, a lot of it was due to things that he said to get me in the right frame of mind."
A Ryder Cup task force was set up by the PGA of America in the wake of their loss in the 2014 event and Mickelson appeared much happier with his side's preparation this time around.
"We were all put in a position to prepare the same way that we would for a normal major championship," said the five-time major winner.
"The variables were removed, which allowed me and other players to practice and prepare properly heading into the matches. I mean, I knew who we were going to play with, and we had been working on this for a couple of weeks.
"And so these last few days leading up to the matches, we were able to get our feel down. Those little things allowed us to play some of our best golf."
Despite their fine comeback, Mickelson and Fowler were left out of the afternoon fourball contests, along with another successful US pair in Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson.