(Reuters) - The Presidents Cup has never quite roused the passion of golf’s Ryder Cup, but Rickie Fowler thinks this might change when the biennial event between U.S. and International teams hits the Big Apple this week.
With New York’s vociferous fans sure to amp up the atmosphere, and the International team desperate to end a six-event losing streak dating back to 2005, Fowler is hoping for a competitive week.
“The Presidents Cup has a little bit more of a laid back feel, but I think this one will have more of a Ryder Cup feel,” Fowler, who will be playing on the American team, said in a telephone interview.
“It’ll be a little different feeling being in New York. There’s going to be plenty of pressure on players of both sides.”
The Presidents Cup, a match play event pitting a 12-man American team against an International side comprised of players from outside Europe, has been a bit of a snooze since its creation in 1994, particularly when played in the United States, where the home team have never lost.
But Fowler will not be making any assumptions as he prepares for the showdown at Liberty National in New Jersey, a course framed by the spectacular Manhattan skyline across the river.
“The International team is getting better and better,” he said. “It’s by no means a gimme week.”
This will be Fowler’s second Presidents Cup.
The 28-year-old has participated in three Ryder Cups, dating back to 2010, so experience in team competition is not an issue, but until this year he had not done enough in odd-numbered years to qualify for the Presidents Cup.
He had a mediocre 1-3-0 record in the 2015 event in South Korea, while in Ryder Cup he has gone 2-4-5, including 1-1-1 in singles.
Fowler qualified for this year’s U.S. team in style by finishing fourth in the points standings, thanks to one victory on the PGA Tour this year, and a string of close calls.
While his popularity has translated into big off-course earnings – more than $9 million this year alone according to Golf Digest — some wonder whether he should say “no” more often to media and sponsor commitments and focus on his game.
The ever-polite Fowler, though, says that is not a problem.
“It took time to learn to say ‘no’, but golf’s our main focus,” he said. “It’s been a learning curve as far as time commitment. You can’t say ‘no’ to everything.”
Florida-based Fowler, a Mercedes-Benz ambassador, enjoys himself when home at his multi-million dollar Jupiter estate, including playing social golf with his regular partner Michael Jordan.
He says retired basketball great Jordan, the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, is no pushover on the course.
“It’s fun to play with a guy who dominated his sport and still has that competitive edge,” Fowler said, adding that Jordan was as competitive as ever, perhaps even more so.
Jordan, he said, had an average score of about 80, and could shoot between 70 and 75 on a good day.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry