October 15, 2021 11:46 pm
In a 4th decade of the Ryder Cup, Garcia still going strong

In a 4th decade of the Ryder Cup, Garcia still going strong

FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, Europe's Sergio Garcia kisses the trophy after Europe won the Ryder Cup on the final day of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France. Garcia has the highest points total in Ryder Cup history with  25 1/2 points. The pandemic-delayed 2020 Ryder Cup returns the United States next week at Whistling Straits along the Wisconsin shores of Lake Michigan.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

FILE – In this Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, Europe’s Sergio Garcia kisses the trophy after Europe won the Ryder Cup on the final day of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France. Garcia has the highest points total in Ryder Cup history with 25 1/2 points. The pandemic-delayed 2020 Ryder Cup returns the United States next week at Whistling Straits along the Wisconsin shores of Lake Michigan. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

FILE – In this Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, Europe’s Sergio Garcia kisses the trophy after Europe won the Ryder Cup on the final day of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France. Garcia has the highest points total in Ryder Cup history with 25 1/2 points. The pandemic-delayed 2020 Ryder Cup returns the United States next week at Whistling Straits along the Wisconsin shores of Lake Michigan. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

Sergio Garcia didn’t waste much time making a point on how he values of the Ryder Cup.

He was a teenager — at 19, still the youngest player in Ryder Cup history — and just over five months removed from being the low amateur at the Masters, when Garcia and Jesper Parnevik took down Tiger Woods and Tom Lehman in foursomes at Brookline. That was his first point. That was only the beginning.

Now with more gray than dark brown in his stubble, the 41-year-old Spaniard sets off for his 10th Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits to extend a remarkable run defined by numbers.

He is one of only four players to compete in Ryder Cups across four decades, the first one in 1999 with no reason to think this one will be the last.

Garcia has won 25 1/2 points (winning 62% of his matches), which already is the most in Ryder Cup history. This is more points than the entire U.S. team. He is just two wins from breaking Nick Faldo’s Ryder Cup record, which would be a sweet feat for many other reasons.

Perhaps the most striking statistic is the list American players who have lost to him: Woods and Phil Mickelson (4 times each), Davis Love III, David Duval, Steve Stricker, and Jim Furyk.

“Sergio Garcia is a huge fan of the Ryder Cup,” European captain Padraig Hrrington stated, an rare moment when the Irishman didn’t feel the need to elaborate.

Garcia was on stage a few weeks ago with Collin Morikawa, the 24-year-old Californian about to make his Ryder Cup debut. The Ryder Cup was mentioned in a Q&A that they participated in during the Payne Stewart Award ceremony, in Atlanta. Dan Hicks from NBC Sports hosted the Q&A. Hicks asked Garcia for any advice.

” Share the secrets,” Morikawa laughed.

” I haven’t done it that well, but it was fun,” Garcia joked, laughing with the crowd. It’s amazing. It’s amazing.”

The Ryder Cup is everything to him, as much as that Masters green jacket he won in 2017 for his first major. He’s done well. He has made contributions, but that is not the way Garcia keeps score.

He was a member of six winning teams, including one as a vice captain in Wales.

“Being a Ryder Cup champion was not my goal,” Garcia stated. It’s something I didn’t think about, because I was so focused on winning the Ryder Cup together. It was never something I thought about.

” I’ve always believed that I could win five matches. He said, “If we don’t win Ryder Cup it’s not good Ryder Cup.” “It’s not the way my brain works and probably is one of the reasons why I’ve been fortunate to be a part of so many teams and do so well in it.”

The passion he brings is reminiscent of Spaniards from another generation, Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, the latter who was Garcia’s fourballs partners in 2006 (they won both their matches at The K Club).

It’s on the same terms as Ian Poulter who is another European whose legacy it is the Ryder Cup.

” I had my heart set on Sergio and Ian being the souls of a Ryder Cup Team,” stated Harrington, who used two captain’s picks to do so. Garcia suffered three losses in the Ryder Cup sting.

Garcia and Parnevik were unbeaten at Brookline, and then Furyk took him down in singles in a pivotal match that set up the stunning U.S. comeback in 1999.

In 2016 at Hazeltine, Garcia did his part to stave off an inevitable loss. He birdied the last three holes to earn a halve, which were the two that Mickelson had birdied. Garcia and Mickelson combined for 19 birdies that match and both had a medal score of 63.

And then there was 2008 at Valhalla, with Faldo as the captain, the only Ryder Cup in which Garcia failed to win a match (he had two halves). Six years later, Faldo stated on the Ryder Cup telecast that Garcia was “useless” because of his emotional and physical issues. The

European team at Gleneagles rallied behind Garcia. He and Lee Westwood had never missed a match until that year — Westwood had gone 12 consecutive matches without a loss — and Faldo sat them both on Saturday morning. McDowell stated that Sergio was “quite ineffective” because he couldn’t play.

Garcia has had 11 partners over the years, only three on this team — Westwood, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy. He has been asked to help the newcomers in the Ryder Cups.

Europe only has three rookies this season, and that short list includes Bernd Wiesberger who Garcia calls one of his closest friends on the European Tour.

“Sergio loves the fact that he will be mentoring rookies. At least one rookie, Harrington stated. It’s important to have your rookies. They bring enthusiasm and passion. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to be there without them.”

That was Garcia long ago, holing out from the fairway, sprinting and leaping into his partner’s arms with boundless energy. It never left Garcia, even after all these years.