Before the Presidents Cup began last week, assistant captain Tiger Woods talked about how the team would be coming up with a theme for the week. For those looking from the outside in, the theme would likely be ‘swagger’.
This United States team possessed tons of youth from its top talent, something we haven’t seen in quite some time. The youthfulness and sense of team-unity was the clear advantage for the United States who handed the international squad a crushing 19-11 defeat.
It all started with the tandem of Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas on Day 1. The two may not have grown up together but you would swear that they are brothers by the way they fed off each other throughout the tournament. Fowler and Thomas are neighbors in Florida and spend a lot of time together off the course when on the road. The bond between the two has grown over the last couple years which has led to this nearly unstoppable pairing.
“Spending the amount of time we do away from the golf course, playing together, we know each other’s attitudes and what makes each other tick and how to pick each other up at the right time and when to say things,” Fowler said. “And we know each other’s games very well. J.T. and I do a good job of just executing, hitting the shots, missing in the right spots and kind of keeping it moving forward.”
Fowler, the elder of the two by four years, opened the door for the theatrics on Thursday when he holed-out a pitch shot from off the fringe of the green. He ‘Spiethed’ Thomas gesturing him to “go get that” ball from the cup.
The ‘younger brother’, Thomas, saw an opening from this swagger that Fowler introduced and used it to his advantage. The more animated Thomas got, the better he played. It probably helped that the United States team was on their home soil because we have seen in the past that athletes respond better when the crowd is for them, rather than against them.
“It definitely got the round going a little bit and got the momentum going our way. But we played some unbelievable golf after that, too.” – Thomas on Fowler’s chip in.
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Thomas became the Most Valuable Player for this year’s U.S. team. It seemed like the man just could not miss from the moment he stepped onto Liberty National golf course. The bright lights of New York couldn’t outshine Thomas’ game especially on and around the greens.
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What made Thomas’ performance so remarkable was the fact that this was his first appearance at Liberty National. This course is made so that it attacks a golfer’s accuracy as much as his power off the tee. We profiled Liberty National last week and highlighted how the Hudson River, along with other hazards, would affect the outcome of this Presidents Cup.
Thomas and Fowler accounted for two wins and a tie in two foursome matches and one four-ball match.
It’s scary to think of how young and dominant these two players are when it comes to match-play in a team atmosphere. This year’s Presidents Cup could be a preview of future Ryder Cup – and Presidents Cup – dominance for years to come.
And the two didn’t just feed off each other. The swagger they had spread throughout the entire U.S. team. Even to the old guys like Phil Mickelson who danced his way to three wins this past weekend – making him the all-time leader in Presidents Cup wins (25). Mickelson noted that the U.S. team is far advanced where he was at when he was their age, in terms of embracing a ‘team mentality’.
Whether you want to call them friends, teammates, neighbors, or surrogate brothers; the tandem of Fowler and Thomas will now become a driving force and must-see golf in both Ryder and Presidents cups for years to come.