They are the two greatest Spanish players of all time. But who would you rather have? Dan Murphy and Mark Townsend disagree in Alternate Shot
Sergio Garcia is the all-time record points scorer at a Ryder Cup, while Seve Ballesteros is often credited with single-handedly reviving the competition in the early ’80s.
In this edition of Alternate Shot, two of our writers argue about who they would have one their Ryder Cup team…
Sergio Garcia, says Dan Murphy
Until a week ago, it was almost impossible to split the two Spaniards – in the records books at least. Both had played in eight Ryder Cups and 37 matches. Both men had exactly 22 ½ points against their names.
Now, thanks to three points out of four in an immense personal contribution to yet another successful European week, Sergio Garcia has pulled himself above even the late, great Severiano Ballesteros.
Let’s just list the wins for a start: 2002, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2014 and now 2018.
Seve, undoubtedly, set the wheels in motion for the Europeans to become competitive in the Ryder Cup but it is Sergio’s generation that have taken their continent to a new level, one of dominance.
Perhaps Sergio’s most lasting legacy will be in the sheer number of his teammates that he has personally carried with him.
While Seve’s playing contribution will forever be defined by the greatest partnership in the event’s history, alongside Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio has formed profitable bonds with a whole host of his comrades.
Truly, he is a team player.
He has won multiple matches alongside all of the following: Jesper Parnevik, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Olazabal and Rory McIlroy. Plus a win and a half with another of his compatriots, Rafa Cabrera Bello.
At 38, he may well yet have more Ryder Cups to play in. But if this is to be his last appearance then he can reflect that his final act was to pass on the Spanish torch to Jon Rahm.
Rahm, making his debut this week and the conqueror of Tiger Woods in the singles, is likely to be the next from this great golfing nation to carry Europe’s hopes. What footsteps he has to follow in.
Seve Ballesteros, says Mark Townsend
I can’t believe we’re even having the conversation.
I’m not sure there’s been a greater advocate of having Sergio on this side and I couldn’t be happier that he’s now our record scorer but we’re comparing him with Seve here.
Time dims the memory a little so let’s remind ourselves that Seve was the heartbeat of various European sides that included Faldo, Woosnam, Olazabal, Langer and Lyle. He was our go-to guy for six straight Ryder Cup, from 1983 to 1993, and the public enemy No. 1 for the Americans.
As much as they might have respected or disliked him he put the fear of god into all of them for a whole decade. And when the magic had gone he was still the inspiration at Oak Hill when he kept Tom Lehman busy in the singles despite rarely locating much of the golf course.
The Miracle of Medinah and the first Ryder Cup since Seve’s death? Whose image was on the bag and clothing all week? People talked of a greater being at work that week, that person was Seve.
Speaking of which he was also part of our greatest ever partnership with Ollie, starting in 1987 where he secured four points when we won for the very first time over there. For the record they recorded 11 wins and two halves from 15 matches. No other pairing has contributed more than half that number.
Ask any European, past or present, who would be first on an all-time team and, to a man, Seve’s name would be the first to leave their lips.
In Ryder Cup terms he was the best there ever was.