Jon Rahm will play in his first Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in September
The States are stacked deep for Paris, no argument, but to the question of whether the contest will turn out to be a no-contest there is a two-word answer. Jon Rahm.
The 23-year-old from the Basque Country has never played in a Ryder Cup and did not win a game at the World Match Play earlier this year. But if ever a player looked tailor-made for the passion play that is Ryder Cup golf it is Rahm. He is Thomas Bjorn’s gift from heaven.
A home Ryder Cup is all about plugging into the power socket of partisan support and the way Rahm responded to his own crowd in winning the Spanish Open at the weekend indicates he is going to like Le Golf National in September.
“I have always wanted to play the Ryder Cup,” said Rahm. “That’s every golfer’s dream. It doesn’t get bigger than the Ryder Cup. It’s the only team event we really get as pros. You get to share it with 11 other guys and assistant captains.
“Winning it creates a bond for life which is something I truly want to be part of. I hope I get the chance soon.
“I’ve talked to Sergio [Garcia] and Rafa [Cabrera-Bello] and they explained how there is nothing like it and how they can’t wait to be with me.
“I want Thomas to know how excited and interested I am to play Ryder Cup. It’s an ultimate goal in life for me so I’ll work very hard to get it.”
He is all but inked in already. After his fourth-place finish at the Masters the previous week, the Spanish Open win further cemented Rahm’s position in Europe’s qualification standings.
The Americans have known all about him for some time courtesy of his stellar college career at Arizona State.
Europe will have it all to do in the Ryder Cup as all four Major's are held by Americans
Based in the States, he could have chosen to play solely on the PGA Tour which would have rendered him ineligible for the Ryder Cup.
But its lure was strong and with qualification the long-term goal, he agreed to join the European Tour as an affiliate member, winning the Irish Open in only his second regular event.
He backed it up by winning the Dubai World Championship in the Tour’s season-ending showpiece.
How will he fit into Bjorn’s team? Well, he is hot-blooded for sure and as has been seen in various club-throwing rants in his short career, his emotions can get the better of him.
Appropriately, his mental coach Joseba del Carmen is a former bomb disposal officer.
“He exteriorises less and less because we are training in this, but this emotion is what has brought him here. We cannot forget who we are or where we came from. Rahm is different, like Seve,” explained de Carmen.
Like Ballesteros, wearing his heart on his sleeve and not being afraid to vocalise his feelings will leave none of his team-mates in any doubt how much Rahm cares about the European cause.
He represents much-needed leadership material for a side thin on the ground in that department with Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell unlikely to be on board.
Rahm will be a rookie, true, but in name only. He is Europe’s highest-ranked player at No4 in the world and his fifth win in only 45 professional starts elevated him into some elite company. Not since the start of Tiger Woods’s pro career has there been a hit rate like it out of the blocks.
Europe have it all to do against Jim Furyk’s classy collective to win back the Ryder Cup but they have recruited an explosive A-lister.