Darren Clarke Backs Jon Rahm To Be Europe’s Next Ryder Cup Talisman
Spain’s Jon Rahm can follow in the footsteps of Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia by becoming Europe’s next Ryder Cup Talisman.
That’s according to former Team Europe Ryder Cup Captain and major champion Darren Clarke.
In an exclusive interview with BoyleSports, Clarke reveals the characteristics Rahm possesses which can turn him into a folk hero among European golf fans.
The 2011 Open Champion also offers his opinion on the pressure of the Ryder Cup, the spotlight on Justin Thomas to perform, the impact of LIV sanctions on Team Europe and much more.
Read all of Clarke’s thoughts below.
Rahm Can Be Europe’s Next Ryder Cup Talisman
I think Jon Rahm has that passion. Jon is a bit hard on himself in the way that he plays, he’s got everything, that Spanish flair and that Spanish aggression, he just loves the game.
He’s got one of his mentors, Jose Maria Olazabal on his team.
Rahm brings that Spanish passion and flair that he has which is just different and will stand out.
The Pressure of Standing on the Tee Box at the Ryder Cup
Standing on the tee box for that opening shot, the fans are shouting and cheering. Be honest – what really goes through your mind in those seconds?
Nerves and the pressure. You’re going to hit your first tee-shot of the Ryder Cup.
When push comes to shove, you get into it and when we get under pressure as professional golfers, we have to go back to our routine. Our routine doesn’t happen by accident, we practice it. We make sure that we’re on the range and when the pressure mounts, we go back to that routine.
When it’s your turn to approach the first tee-shot, you go back into that routine and then it’s a matter of trust.
You’ve got to trust that you’re prepared, you’ve got to trust that you’re mentally tough enough and you’ve got to play well enough to beat the guys you’re coming up against. Then after that, you just do the best you can.
Pressure On Justin Thomas
Justin is going to be under a lot of pressure. Any pick is always under more pressure compared to a guy that has qualified. Any pick is trying to justify their position to the captain, the vice-captain and the outside world, you’re trying to justify why you’re there. So JT is going to be under a huge amount of pressure but he’s a world class player.
He played better last week in California but JT is a bit like Shane Lowry on our side. People will say that Shane shouldn’t have been picked which is rubbish. JT also brings heart and passion. Do you want a world class player like that in your team? Yeah you probably do.
He hasn’t had the best season by his standards but there’s more to it than how you’re going to play, what people see from the outside and team dynamics, JT brings all that as well.
Could Zach have picked a player in better form? Of course he could but would they have enhanced their team dynamic that much? Maybe not.
JT is also good enough to handle that pressure and he’s a world class player.
Impact Of LIV Sanctions On Ryder Cup
It’s rules and regulations. LIV has been a volatile subject. Unlike the European Tour who owned the European Ryder Cup, the American side is owned by the PGA of America not the PGA Tour.
Whilst those sanctions are in position for the guys who play on the PGA Tour, it’s not through the PGA of America. They are two different entities. It’s consequently why Brooks was available for selection.
I don’t claim to be clever enough nor smart enough to resolve this whole situation.
Europe will miss the heartbeat of Sergio, Poults and Lee.
Would they have ever qualified? It’s a whole who knows scenario.
I read the reports that Sergio would pay fines to make himself eligible but would he have got picked? Is it right or wrong for him not to be available? You really don’t know. Hypotheticals don’t do you any good at the Ryder Cup.
Ludvig Aberg’s Ryder Cup Debut
I don’t know him personally. I’ve watched him on TV and his swing looks awesome. I’ve spoken to people that have played with him saying that he’s the proper real deal. He’s got everything you need.
It’s hard to make a prediction because everyone takes to the Ryder Cup a different way, it’s the most under pressure experience you’re going to have as a golfer.
I don’t care how experienced you are, it’s going to be the most nervous you’ve ever been on a golf course. With Ludvig, he could take to it like a duck to water or not. We’ll see how he plays. Some guys play brilliantly, some take time.
The problem with 18-hole matchplay, is if you don’t take to it from the start and you give someone a two or three hole lead it’s hard to get back into it.
But my expectation is that he’ll [Aberg] take to it like a duck to water.
Who’ll Be Europe’s Standout Player?
I can’t answer that question because I don’t know. If you pit the world’s best players against each other over 18 holes you can flick a coin on who is going to win.
When you look at it from a team perspective, I’d pick Europe to win by a hole or two.
Some guys are going to play well but might not get points on the board depending on who they play against, they might play unbelievable golf but only score half a point. Picking standout guys is hard to do.
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