You can’t have a Ryder Cup without a mention of Colin Montgomerie. Well, you can but we don’t think he’d approve. Luckily, Jon Rahm, the world No 1, stepped up to gently praise the talismanic Scot on the eve of the 43rd transatlantic tussle at Whistling Straits.

While Rahm’s venerated Spanish countrymen, Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, will always hold a special place in the pantheon of Ryder Cup grandees, Monty’s enduring feats in the contest remain worthy of great acclaim.

“I think Monty is one that can often be overlooked,” said Rahm when asked if there were players other than Seve and Olazabal who stirred his spirits. “He was somebody who had a great career and was a tough guy to beat. He got things done.”

On previous contact with Monty, Rahm added: “I have met him, quickly, in passing.” Funnily enough, many golf writers have experienced similarly fleeting exchanges when they asked Monty for a word after he’d just bogeyed the last to miss the cut.

The Herald:

Montgomerie’s indefatigable competitive zeal in the Ryder Cup – he was unbeaten in the singles during eight appearances as a player – made him Europe’s on-course leader during many a campaign. 

Rahm, the US Open champion and the man at the summit of the global order, is being tipped to take on a similar role in Wisconsin. It is a rank he will relish.

“Yes, yes, I’m ready for that,” declared the 26-year-old with purpose. “What kind of a player would I be if I said no? It's a challenge I look forward to. There are a lot of players in our team who have a lot of experience and know how to get it done. I'm ready to add my name into that group.

“I'm not going to actively go out and say ‘hey, I'm a leader now’ because I don't have that massive an ego. Hopefully, like I've done so far this year, I'll let the clubs and the ball do the talking.

"When you're born in Spain, the Ryder Cup is something special. There's a lot of legacy in this event with Seve and Ollie. It's a lot to live up to, I'm not going to lie. It's a lot of expectation when you're a Spaniard.”

It’s been an eventful old year for Rahm. He became a father and won a first major but a positive test for Coronavirus cost him a likely victory at The Memorial and another diagnosis forced him to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics. A Ryder Cup win would put a triumphant tin lid on an unforgettable 2021.

The Herald:

“It just dawned on me that it's only been five-and-a-half months since my son was born and so many things have happened since then," he said. "It almost feels like a couple of years’ worth of experiences in that time. Besides the setbacks, the good moments, the great experiences, the happiness vastly outweigh the setbacks. I have nothing to complain about.

“No matter what happened Covid-wise or what events I missed or what could have been, it still has been an amazing year that I really am thankful for

“I think it's very easy in life to focus on what could have been and what you didn't have. It's good to just realise all the good things that happened and forget about those bad moments.”

Rahm made his Ryder Cup debut in Paris in 2018 and enjoyed a singles win over Tiger Woods on the closing Sunday as Europe eased to a commanding victory.

The feel-good factor is clearly coursing through the European team room this week and Rahm is enjoying being part of a golfing generation game in the buoyant visiting camp.

“When Lee Westwood played the Ryder Cup for the first time, I wasn't even three years old.” said Rahm of the veteran Englishman, who will equal Nick Faldo’s record of 11 cup outings this weekend.

The Herald:

“You see these great people who have accomplished so many things and they come together with a smile that only a team event like The Ryder Cup can bring. There’s a juvenile excitement that you don't usually expect a 48-year-old to have. It's very unique and it's something that I wish everybody could see because I feel like a lot of the time we're missing that in life. A week like this can definitely give you that youth back.”

Beating a loaded USA team won’t be child’s play, mind you.