The rich Spanish tradition in the Ryder Cup – that one time so-called Armada of Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal bringing passion and swashbuckling play to Europe’s cause and then the record points total set by Sergio Garcia – is not lost on Jon Rahm.
Rahm, the world number three, may be the lone Spaniard on the team for the latest edition of the match but there is the sense this self-confessed introvert will let the extrovert emerge if that is what is needed in letting his clubs – and actions – do the talking.
“Hopefully, I can go 5-0 or 4-0 or 3-0, however many times I play. My intention is to go out there and win every single match,” said Rahm.
And while Garcia isn’t in the team this time to extend his European points record, his move to LIV effectively ex-communicating him from a place, Rahm has reached out to his compatriot as recently as Monday in seeking to gain further insights into what he can bring as an on-course leader this time.
“I did talk to him and ask for advice. He [showed] me a lot of what to do at Whistling Straits and obviously in Paris as well. I did have a chat with him, and with [Ian] Poulter as well. Not that it’s going to be easy to take on that role that those two had both on and off the golf course, but to hear them talk about what they thought and what they felt is obviously invaluable information,” said Rahm.
Indeed, the influence of Garcia on Rahm remains clear and obvious. When asked to highlight his three top memories of the Ryder Cup Rahm opted for the 1987 win (the first on American soil), the 2006 match at The K Club, because of the emotions involved with Darren Clarke, playing six weeks after the death of his wife Heather, and Garcia becoming Europe’s record points scorer in 2021.
He has some catching up to do if he is to emulate Garcia.
Rahm’s Ryder Cup record – 4-3-1 – is solid if not spectacular but, as one of three Europeans in the top four of the world rankings there is a sense that the time has come to be a true leader.
“I was world number one going into the last Ryder Cup, and it really didn’t mean anything. I’d like to think that whatever we have done before this week and whatever we may do after this week doesn’t really matter. It shouldn’t really impact how we prepare for this week. At the end of the day it’s match play, and it’s all about doing the best job you can to beat the person in front of you that session, that’s really it.”
Rahm keeping it simple. Ready, and certainly able, for the leadership task required of him. Ready to step into Garcia’s shoes.