Leaving Sergio Out of Ryder Cup Team is Unthinkable
SERGIO GARCIA has missed out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs for the first time in his career and finds himself sitting outside the automatic places in Europe’s Ryder Cup team. The top eight players will make the team, leaving captain Thomas Bjorn with four wild cards. Garcia’s schedule means that he if he is to play at Le Golf National then he will have to depend upon Bjorn’s largesse.
There are many who believe that, having missed the cut in all four of this year’s majors, Garcia should not be selected. Have they are gone mad? It is inconceivable that the Spaniard will not be a member of the European team. People talk about Ian Poulter’s amazing Ryder Cup record, and it is a certainty that Poulter will be in the side. But Garcia’s record stands comparison with the Englishman, and, unlike Poulter, the Spaniard has never before had to depend upon a wild card.
Over a sustained period he has been one of the most consistent of all Europe’s golfers, contending in majors on a regular basis, winning tournaments for fun on the PGA Tour and European Tour. In 2017, at his 74th attempt, he finally landed his first major when he saw off the challenge of Justin Rose to win The Masters. It was the highlight of an outstanding year, during which he also won another two tournaments, including the Dubai Desert Classic.
In February he became a father for the first time. He also left TaylorMade, his long-time club supplier, and signed for Callaway. It is a rare golfer who can change equipment and carry on as if nothing has happened, and Garcia is a feel player, somebody who will be only too aware that he is now using equipment that performs differently.
Garcia’s life has changed forever. It should surprise nobody then that there has been a reaction to what he achieved in 2017. With the major monkey finally off his back, the Spaniard no longer has to answer endless questions about when he will land his first one.
His title defence at Augusta came to a shattering end when he took 13 blows at the 15th hole in the opening round, just 12 months after making an eagle on the same hole in the final round. “I don’t know, it’s the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot. Simple as that.”
There are those believe he has been scarred by the experience but they forget that the Spaniard has survived a great deal worse during an eventful career. Yes, he has missed out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs and yes, his putting has been poor throughout the year. But maybe this is exactly what Garcia needed. He can now enjoy some downtime and come back for the Ryder Cup fully refreshed and raring to go.
And so why should Bjorn give him a wild card? Because not only is he a brilliant ball striker, but he also excels at matchplay - and he loves it. It is easy to forget that when he made his debut in 1999 he was the youngest player ever to take part in the Ryder Cup when he was just 19 years old. In his first four matches he contributed 15 points. He has now played 37 matches and has a winning percentage that stands at 61%, which is better than the likes of Rory McIlroy (58%), Paul Casey (58%) and Lee Westwood (52%). Only Ian Poulter (72%), Colin Montgomerie (65%) and Justin Rose (63%) have better records.
And when he wears Europe’s colours he also seems to be able to lay his putting demons to rest. During this singles match with Phil Mickelson at Hazeltine in 2016 he shot a 63, holing putts from all over the place in what was one of the most remarkable halved matches in Ryder Cup history. He also performed brilliantly alongside Rory McIlroy at Gleneagles in 2014 and produced fireworks in the memorable victory at Medinah in 2012 - he and Luke Donald beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the Saturday four balls before dismissing Jim Furyk in the singles to put Europe ahead in the match for the first time. He has an outstanding foursomes record too, winning nine and half three of his 15 matches.
Remember, too, that one of his best performances of 2018 came at the French Open, when he finished in the top 10. And where was the French Open played? Le Golf National, the venue for this year’s Ryder Cup match.
Bjorn’s team is going to contain at least five rookies in Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Thorbjorn Olesen and Alex Noren. While nobody would question the credentials of any of these players, they will never have experienced anything like the atmosphere that they will be presented with in Paris. Experience counts for a lot, and Garcia provides that in spades.
You can be sure that Bjorn has already been in touch with him to tell him that his place in the team is secure.
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