PARIS: With five rookies in their Ryder Cup team this week, Europe will need the new boys to fire, and in the charismatic Jon Rahm they may have found a man up to the task.
At 23, the Spaniard will be the youngest player featuring in the 42nd edition of the event at Le Golf National, after an incredible rise since turning professional two years ago.
Rahm has won titles in both Europe and the US and is now ranked eighth in the world, and he isn’t intimidated by the prospect of taking on the star-studded Americans in front of thousands of fans.
“I can’t wait to get the Ryder Cup started, to be honest, and I can’t explain what that first tee is going to be like,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“The only time I’ve seen stands this big is in a football stadium.”
Rahm is not one to shirk away from the limelight and is known to be an emotional character on the golf course, which can often help a player take to the Ryder Cup.
He is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his compatriots and European stars Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia, and is already becoming a “vocal” figure in the team room, according to Rory McIlroy.
“He definitely has the fire of a Seve. He’s got that passion that the Spanish are known for,” said the four-time major champion.
“We’ve had this WhatsApp group going, all the Ryder Cup players and vice-captains and captains for the last few weeks, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at Jon’s input into it.
“I wasn’t quite as vocal in my first Ryder Cup as he’s been, but I wasn’t as good a player in my first Ryder Cup as he is.”
Rahm laughed off McIlroy’s comments, saying he had already fallen victim to the Northern Irishman’s sense of humor.
“We have funny moments. Yesterday, for example, after the round, after Rory drove it past me 50 yards on pretty much every hole, I was on the physio table after the round with needles in me,” Rahm said.
“Because of jet-lag, I was completely asleep. So Rory, he decided it was a perfect time to take a picture in my underwear and post it on the chat and say I couldn’t handle him hitting it past me every single drive.
The form of a bullish Rahm, who says that Eminem’s new album has been getting him in the mood this week, will be key to Europe’s chances of being the lucky ones this week.