Did Sergio deserve a spot at the Ryder Cup?September 5, 2018 Opinion
Sergio Garcia is going to the Ryder Cup – but did he deserve a captain's pick? Mark Townsend and Steve Carroll disagree in Alternate Shot
Sergio Garcia was picked as a Ryder Cup wildcard for Team Europe – but should be be on the plane to Paris?
Yes, says Mark Townsend
Here you go, here’s Sergio’s foursomes record – W9 L3 H3. Is that enough for you? Given there are five rookies already we don’t really have a load of tried-and-trusted partnerships so having Garcia for two rounds of alternate shot is ideal.
We’ve got all the fourball big guns, we now need to fill in the gaps.
And who knows, should he rediscover his dazzle and form then it’s not inconceivable that he might be needed more?
Garcia has a bit of course form here, he shot a 64 on the Saturday of this year’s French Open. You need to hit greens, Garcia can do that in his sleep.
Putting? Yes yes, a weakness given he’s streaky. Sometimes he can be amazing. Every two years we would hear how Monty and Westwood’s putting is rebooted due to playing matchplay rather than the usual every shot counts, there’s every chance he’ll be freed up and start knocking in a few.
On his most recent Ryder Cup outing he didn’t drop a shot in a 63 at Hazeltine, the unfortunate thing for him was that he was playing Phil Mickelson and he was also on fire. The result being a half. Our thinking is often so flimsy that had he beaten, say a Jimmy Walker on that Sunday, then we would fancy him being included a little bit more.
His record has dropped off a bit in recent times but, through 37 matches, his point percentage stands at 0.61 – ahead of the likes of Graeme McDowell (0.60), Rory McIlroy (0.58), Paul Casey (0.56) or Lee Westwood (0.52).
His year has had a bit of everything; some new clubs, that 13 at Augusta, a new baby daughter and not much to write home about on the course. All being well all that will change at the end of September.
No, says Steve Carroll
“When you come down to those last few places in the team it is all about being in form and going in the right direction.
“Confidence is essential to playing well. I look at it, in a way, and say whoever you are you need to be trending in the right direction.
“You need to feel good about your golf. There is no substitute for that when you are in the Ryder Cup. From personal experience the Ryder Cup is the best place in the world when you are playing great and the worst place when you are not playing very well.”
Not my words, but those of European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. And yet, with today’s wild card pick of Sergio Garcia, that’s all they’ve turned out to be – words.
I get the reasons why Garcia would go – his presence in the team-room, his experience, his Ryder Cup past.
But that is not how this team was going to be picked.
We were assured we would learn from the mistakes of Hazeltine, where players (Westwood and Kaymer primarily) were picked on reputation rather than how they were hitting the ball in the run-up to the event.
Under no measurable index can you say Garcia is “trending in the right direction”. He’s missed the cut in all four majors.
He didn’t even make the FedEx Cup playoffs. He couldn’t find a spot in the top 125 players on the PGA Tour.
Garcia’s looked an ever more frustrated figure this year as he has failed to capitalise on such a wonderful season in 2017.
If things start badly in Paris, it could get ugly very quickly. He could sit out until Sunday and then you’ve simply wasted a pick.
If it was JUST about form, then he couldn’t go to France. But it clearly isn’t and, like 2016, I hope Europe don’t live to regret it.