Sergio Garcia says he doesn't 'need to show anyone' he's worth his Ryder Cup selection

Phil Casey 19/09/2018
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Sergio Garcia insists he has nothing to prove ahead of next week’s Ryder Cup, despite his controversial wild card selection.

Garcia won the 2017 Masters but has missed the cut in his last five major championship starts, with his only top-10 finish in a strokeplay event since March coming in the French Open at the Ryder Cup venue of Le Golf National.

“I don’t need to show anyone,” the 38-year-old said ahead of the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.

“The only thing I have to do is go out there and help team Europe, my team-mates and my captain and vice-captains – not only with the game on the golf course but outside, in the team room and everything.

“There are things that are important to have in a team. I think that is one of the reasons why Thomas (Bjorn, European captain) picked me, not only because of the game he knows I can play but what I can bring outside of the golf course into the team room and stuff.”

Garcia has not competed since the middle of August, a tie for 24th in the Wyndham Championship proving insufficient to qualify for the play-offs via the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings.

“I told Thomas, ‘If you end up picking me, I’ll make sure that I play something coming into the Ryder Cup’,” added Garcia, who needs three points in Paris to overtake Nick Faldo as the top European points scorer in Ryder Cup history.

“I didn’t want to be without playing for four or five weeks coming into such a big and amazing event. Portugal seemed like a good fit and I’m happy that I decided to come here. Obviously the course is nice, it’s going to be a good test and I’m excited for it.

“I took a couple of weeks off and started practising again. The game feels pretty good. Obviously there are some things here and there that I would love to do a little bit better and that’s what I’m working on. The game overall feels good.

“It’s just a matter of hopefully getting some good momentum, start building on that. If I can do that then I can gain some confidence and some good rhythm, that’s the goal this week.

“Obviously getting a win would be amazing, you can’t beat confidence. That would be nice but more than anything I just want to get some rhythm, get some competition juices flowing, that’s one of the main reasons that I wanted to come here.”

Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen is the only other member of the Ryder Cup team competing in Vilamoura, a place he knows well.

“It’s a place I always like to come back to,” Olesen said. “I actually went here earlier this year to train for five days with my coach and caddie. It’s a place I’ve always enjoyed coming to – nice weather, good food.

“I feel like I know the course really well. I haven’t particularly performed the last few years here but I still feel like I’ve played pretty well. Qualifying for the Ryder Cup didn’t make a change at all.

“I probably took eight or nine days off without any golf, so obviously started the middle of last week to get back into it and I’m slowly getting back into the rhythm and hopefully can be fully ready on Thursday.”

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Europe hungry for Ryder Cup after defeat in previous edition, says Justin Rose

Phil Casey 19/09/2018
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World number one Justin Rose believes the pain of losing the Ryder Cup has made Europe’s players hungry to regain the trophy in Paris next week.

Seeking an unprecedented fourth straight victory in the biennial competition in 2016, Europe were beaten 17-11 at Hazeltine and go into this year’s contest as underdogs, despite enjoying home advantage and vast experience of Le Golf National, venue for the European Tour’s French Open.

“Home support is really important, I think that was a big difference at Hazeltine,” Rose said.

“The Americans wanted it really badly and the crowd were right behind them. We want it back badly now. Losing it has made us all more hungry again, no doubt about it.”

Speaking ahead of this week’s Tour Championship, where he could win the FedEx Cup title and £7.6million bonus, Rose added on Sky Sports News: “Europe was on a great run for a number of years but losing it really really hurt so I think we’re all going to be really determined.

“On paper I think the Americans are even stronger than they may have been in 2016, they are a great team, but we’re even stronger too and up for a challenge for sure.”

Tiger Woods also believes the two sides are evenly matched as he prepares to play the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2012, when he earned just half a point from four matches as Europe recovered from 10-6 down in the “Miracle at Medinah”.

“I think the European side is one of the best they’ve ever had,” Woods told a pre-tournament press conference. “Yeah we have a solid team but so do the Europeans.

“It plays out over three days and it’s about playing well at the right time, partnering up at the right time and making putts. I think both teams are very deep this year going into the event so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for both sides.”

Woods has only been on the winning side once in seven previous Ryder Cups as a player – he was a vice-captain in 2016 – and revealed he was struggling with a back problem during the 2012 contest.

The 14-time major winner has since had four back operations, culminating in spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.

“It was tough because we had a four-point lead starting out the day on Sunday and I worked my way back against Francesco (Molinari) and was one up and thought my match would be the deciding point, (but) some of the guys had some tough losses,” the 42-year-old added.

“I wasn’t feeling physically well that Ryder Cup, it was where my back started bugging me and that’s the only wave [Saturday’s foursomes] I’ve ever missed because I told Davis [Love, US captain] that I just really couldn’t go and I said can you put me out later on Sunday because I need the time to get my back organised.

“It was tough watching them celebrate on the 18th fairway when I thought we should have won that one.”

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How Europe and USA compare ahead of the Ryder Cup

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The Ryder Cup gets under way in two weeks time as Europe and USA go to battle at Le Golf National in Paris.

Here, we compare the two sides ahead of golf’s prestigious biennial event on September 28.

RANKING

Team USA: 11.75
Team Europe: 18.5

Justin Rose’s second place finish at the BMW Championship last weekend saw the Englishman become the World No1 for the first time in his 21-year professional career.

However, that is where the positive news ends for Thomas Bjorn’s side as six of the top 10 spots in the world are occupied by American players, with Europe holding the other four.

Remarkably, America’s lowest ranked player is Phil Mickelson at World No25, while Ian Poulter and Thorbjorn Olesen at No34 and No44 respectively increase Europe’s average.

Advantage: Team USA

MAJOR WINS

Team Europe: 8
Team USA: 31

America hold the advantage in major wins by a considerable margin with Tiger Woods (14) and Mickelson (five) sharing 19 victories between them.

In fact, American players have dominated majors in recent years, with Sergio Garcia (Masters 2017) and Francesco Molinari (Open Championship 2018) the only two European players to win in five out of the last eight major events.

Seven European players have not won a major, while only three Americans have not sealed one of golf’s most prestigious events.

Advantage: Team USA

RYDER CUP RECORD

Team Europe: 72.5
Team USA: 67

Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and DeChambeau are the only rookies on Team USA, while Bjorn has to manage Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton and Alex Noren qualifying for the first time.

The experienced Woods (14.5) and Mickelson (21.5) have collected a scintillating 36 of USA’s 67 points, with Bubba Watson registering a paltry three points from three Ryder Cup appearances (2010, 2012 and 2014).

For Europe, Sergio Garcia tops the points chart with 22.5 from eight tournament appearances stretching back to 1999. Poulter (13), Rose (12) and McIlroy (11) share 36 points from their four-plus Ryder Cup caps each.

Advantage: Team Europe

FORM IN 2018

Team Europe: 13
Team USA: 15

Dustin Johnson, Watson and DeChambeau have three wins each in 2018, with the latter clinching victory in two out of his last three tournaments.

Four of America’s players – Rickie Fowler, Woods, Spieth and Finau – have yet to win this year, but Finau has been among the most consistent in world golf, with an impressive 11 top-10s on the PGA Tour.

From the Europe team, only Henrik Stenson and Hatton have not tasted victory, with Garcia carrying the worst run of form of either team into the Ryder Cup with a horrific eight missed cuts.

Rose is the most consistent players on Bjorn’s side following his eight top-10 finishes in 2018, including a stunning win at the Fort Invitational in May and back-to-back runners-up finishes.

Advantage: Team USA

GREENS IN REGULATION

Team Europe: 52.8
Team USA: 49.6

With the tight and tricky greens of Le Golf National, both teams will be looking for accuracy off the tee.

Stenson is the top ranked player in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour, hitting 74.25 per cent of greens from his 936 holes played.

His team-mate Molinari is the only other European player ranked inside the top-20 at eighth, while USA’s Finau (12), Spieth (14), Johnson (16) and Dechambeau (19) occupy places in the top-20.

Incredibly, eight of America’s players are ranked inside the top 50 for greens in regulation, while only four European players make the cut.

Reed is the highest ranked American player at 149th, hitting just 64 per cent of greens. As for Europe, McIlroy needs to improve off the tee as he is ranked 108th at 66 per cent.

Advantage: Team USA

DRIVING ACCURACY

Team Europe: 74.7
Team USA: 130

Again, Stenson tops the charts on driving accuracy, hitting 74.79 per cent of fairways from his 60 rounds played on the PGA Tour.

For America, this is an area they struggle, with Rickie Fowler (54) the only player ranked inside the top-60.

In contrast, Europe have four players apart from Stenson ranked inside the top-60, with Rose (35), Poulter (37), Molinari (51) and Fleetwood (59) occupying the various positions.

Mickelson is third from bottom on driving accuracy at 192nd, while McIlroy is 156th with a meagre 56.68 per cent accuracy off the tee.

Advantage: Team Europe

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