Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2023 Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Rome, Italy

Jon Rahm insists he does not feel any extra pressure as he tees it up at a Ryder Cup for the first time as a Major Champion and World Number One.

The Spaniard made his debut at Le Golf National three years ago and while he was already a two time Rolex Series champion and winner on both sides of the Atlantic, there was no undue expectation on him in a team containing eight Major wins.

He famously beat Tiger Woods in the singles as Europe claimed a 17½-10½ victory in Paris but the challenge will be very different at Whistling Straits, with only a small number of European fans present due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

And while the reigning U.S. Open champion is eager to lead by example on the golf course, he insists the pressure will be off in a team room that contains a wealth of experience.

"We have plenty of players in the team that are vocal enough, that have done this enough that naturally will be gravitated towards for guidance," he said.

"I'm not going to actively go and just make myself, 'hey, I'm a leader now', because I don't have that massive of an ego.

"In that case, hopefully like I've done so far this year, I'll let the clubs and the ball do the talking and I'll leave the speeches and the leadership to the guys that have been doing this for a long time."

Between them, Europe's 40-something gang of Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood have racked up 39 Ryder Cup appearances in their 138 combined years.

But Rahm insists he and they will have the excitement of children this week, such is the atmosphere at a Ryder Cup.

"It is really cool to see all these great players, people that have been doing this for a very long time," he said. "When Lee played the Ryder Cup for the first time, I wasn't even three years old yet.

We are all one and we are all the same and we have the same level of excitement
— Jon Rahm

"To see all these great people that have accomplished so many things come together with a smile that only a team like the Ryder Cup can bring to you, a juvenile excitement that you don't usually expect a 48-year-old to have, it's very unique.

"It's something that I wish everybody could see because I feel like a lot of times we're missing that in life and a week like this can definitely give you that youth back in that sense mentally.

"Even though I'm still 26, I'm very young, it still takes me back to when I was a kid hoping to be playing in the Ryder Cup when I was a kid representing Spain and how I felt back then, obviously magnified times a hundred in this situation.

"It's something that's very, very fun and it's what makes the Ryder Cup so special amongst other things. We are all one and we are all the same and we have the same level of excitement and the smiles that we see around and the happiness and the joy is something I wish everybody could see."

Another man making a second Ryder Cup appearance this week is Matt Fitzpatrick, and the Englishman feels he is a very different player to the one that teed it up at Hazeltine five years ago.

Matt Fitzpatrick is playing in his second Ryder Cup (Warren Little/Getty Images)

Fitzpatrick returned from Minnesota pointless from two matches but the 27-year-old is philosophical when he looks back on his debut.

"At the time I was disappointed, frustrated. But I look back and the way I was hitting it at the time compared to... I look at myself now, it was very different.

"I've just accepted that. It was my first ever one. It was in America. It was around a golf course that did not suit me one bit. Kind of just adds up.

"My game, I didn't feel like was as good as it is now, then. I feel like it's much better nowadays and my game has definitely changed a lot, hitting it further and various other things.

"I also think just knowing the guys in the European team better. I had only had my card in 2015 and 2016, so I only got to spend a little bit of time with the guys on the team and other players during regular weeks on Tour.

"This is my eighth year I think on Tour, so I know everyone really well now. I think that makes a big difference, being able to feel comfortable, just talking about anything with them, really."

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