(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Team Europe's Tommy Fleetwood recognizes the infusion of youth on the 2023 Ryder Cup team, without the likes of veteran Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson.
He's also confident as his side takes on the United States this week at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside of Rome.
"You sort of walk into what has been a legacy of -- definitely my Ryder Cup, my generation of Ryder Cups has been those guys that were such huge presence on the course and off the course.
"It was honestly the most amazing experience, seeing those guys in that team atmosphere and that team environment."
The 32-year-old native of Southport, England, is winless on the PGA Tour but finished sixth in FedEx Cup points this season. He made his first tour appearance in 2014 and has seven international victories.
Fleetwood was part of the 2018 European Ryder Cup team that made a big splash with a victory in France. He was 4-1-1 in Paris that year and 4-2-2 overall in two Cup appearances.
"Paris owns a special place in a lot of our hearts and it's the last Ryder Cup that we won," Fleetwood said, finding motivation. "And it's been five years, so it's actually been quite a long time."
Fleetwood said Europe has an opportunity to build on the current foundation.
"I think there's been a natural progression for a few of the guys," he said. "... There's a core group of us that have played two or three Ryder Cups now, and that's not the experience of what those guys had in terms of numbers.
"But I think we've all grown as Ryder Cup players together, and I think that is something that's really cool and we are all comfortable in the roles."
Despite missing the old guard, Fleetwood cites the talent and experience on both sides.
"We still have a couple of current legends in the Ryder Cup in Justin [Rose] and Rory [McIlroy]," he said, "and a few of us that are hoping to follow in their footsteps and make our own legacy over the next era of Ryder Cups."
The leadership of European captain Luke Donald is a positive, Fleetwood said.
"I think everybody just has loved his captaincy, the way he's gone about things. I think we are all looking forward to playing for him."
And Donald spoke highly of Fleetwood's confidence and attitude, saying he "could absolutely be a future captain."
It all starts this week in Italy on a challenging golf course with dangerous rough that could play favorably for the Europeans.
"It's thick for sure," Fleetwood said. "I always find it difficult to say courses have a certain advantage."
"But of course, the home side will always look for those things in particular that will help them. The rough's thick," he added.
- Field Level Media