ST. LOUIS – As Sunday’s final-round drama played out at the 100th PGA Championship, Sergio Garcia was long gone.
Disappointing rounds of 70 and 71 at Bellerive sent the enigmatic Spaniard packing, putting up his eighth missed cut of the season and seventh in his last 11 tournaments. He has failed to make the weekend in all three 2018 majors and placed 70th at the Players Championship. Ranked 23rd in the Official World Golf Ranking, he’s also likely to find himself out of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Should a flailing Garcia be part of the European Ryder Cup team in Paris? It’s been a rough run of late for the 38-year-old, who a year ago seemed reinvigorated by his breakthrough major win at the Masters, his marriage to Angela Akins and fatherhood.
Garcia currently ranks 20th in the race for the 12 spots captain Thomas Bjorn has for the Euros. Bjorn has much high-performing bubble talent to consider in the likes of Ian Poulter, Russell Knox, Eddie Pepperell and Thorbjorn Olesen. All are playing better than Garcia right now.
But Garcia has been through these pitched battles before, playing in eight Ryder Cups since 1999. Experience has to count for something. He has posted a career 19-11-7 record (3-4-1 in singles, 9-3-3 in foursomes and 7-4-3 in four-balls). In 2016 at Hazeltine he went 1-2-2, his lone victory coming in four-ball play as he and Rafa Cabrera Bello downed J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore, 3 and 2. He halved a spirited singles match with Phil Mickelson, making 10 birdies. Still, the U.S. prevailed in Minnesota 17-11.
“Sergio’s a world-class player and he’s got some weeks ahead of him where he wants to go out and achieve things,” Bjorn said earlier this week.
“But we also know that Sergio is the type of player that can turn it around in a week or two and then all of a sudden he goes on a great run of form. World-class players, all of them have ups and downs, and the last few weeks he hasn’t played his best, but he’s still bobbling around, and there’s still some good signs here and there, and he can turn it around very quickly.”
There were no such signs in St. Louis.
The best argument to bring Garcia to France? His top effort of late came in the French Open at Le Golf National, this year’s Ryder Cup host site. He was 4 under par, finishing T-8. But that was at the end of June.
So should Bjorn play a hot hand or rely on the old hand?
Presenting few signs of the ability that has made him such a force in Ryder Cups past, it’s time to send Garcia to the bench. Unlike what American veteran counterparts Tiger Woods and Mickelson have shown U.S. boss Jim Furyk, Garcia hasn’t given Bjorn a reason to believe he’s got the game to help return the Cup to Europe. Bjorn seemed hopeful that Garcia might show him something this week in Missouri. He didn’t.
“It still comes back to what’s the makeup of the team, does he fit in there?” Bjorn said. “If he doesn’t make it on merit, does he fit in there with where he is going through all of those points that I put down of making my picks? So I have to wait and see. But I would like to – for Sergio’s sake, I would like to see him probably putting in a bit better performances than he has because he’s such a quality player and he brings so much to a European team when he’s on form.”
The past month and a half indicates otherwise.
Sit this one out Sergio. For the good of the continent. Gwk