Garcia shows Ryder Cup value after bad year

Sergio Garcia (AP)
Sergio Garcia (AP)

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines - As Sergio Garcia struggled the past six months, critics doubted his Ryder Cup worthiness, but Europe captain Thomas Bjorn made him a wildcard pick for his ninth Cup appearance.

The 38-year-old Spaniard proved his value Saturday with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole, delivering a fist pump to finish a 2 and 1 fourball victory alongside Rory McIlroy over Americans Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau at Le Golf National.

"I think that I've proved myself over and over," Garcia said. "The only thing I can do out there is when I get called upon playing, just do my best, do what I do, do what I've always done here at Ryder Cups, and that's everything."

The victory and a Friday foursomes triumph alongside Sweden's Alex Noren has given Garcia a chance to break the all-time Ryder Cup points record with a Sunday singles win.

Garcia, already the youngest player in Ryder Cup history from his 1999 debut at age 19, has won 24 1/2 Cup points, just off Nick Faldo's record of 25 that could fall Sunday.

Garcia, ranked 28th, could also move one off Faldo's record of 23 Cup victories in his 41st Cup match, five off another Faldo mark.

For teammates, Garcia brings a special emotional lift and experienced wisdom to Europe's Ryder Cup squad.

"The fire and the passion that he has, it's infectious, and it rubs off on me pretty well," McIlroy said.

For Garcia, it's the teammates that help spark his enjoyment of the Ryder Cup.

"That's one of the reasons why I've enjoyed foursomes and fourballs, because I feel like it's nice to have someone around that you can put your arm around and kind of cheer yourself on," Garcia said.

"Golf is such a lonely game throughout the whole year. Sometimes it's nice to have a friend next to you that is cheering for you."

Garcia won his first major title at last year's Masters, defeating Justin Rose in a playoff, and followed with titles at the Andalucia Masters last October and Singapore Open in January.

But Garcia became a father in March and since three top-10 US PGA finishes that month, he has struggled with his game, missing eight cuts while making only three and never cracking the top 20.

In defending the Masters crown last April just weeks after the birth of daughter Azalea, he shot a 13 on the 15th hole at Augusta National, tying a Masters record for most strokes on any hole.

But Garcia said he never doubted he deserved a spot on Europe's Ryder Cup side.

"When things don't go exactly as you plan or as you want it, and you keep missing cuts by one, it feels like it's kind of getting a little farther away and you want it to come back," Garcia said.

"Obviously there were thoughts, but at the same time I talked to Thomas, and I told him I want to be a part of the team. I'm definitely glad to be here."

Results after Saturday's afternoon session of the 42nd Ryder Cup between Europe and the United States at Le Golf National:

Europe 10 United States 6

Afternoon foursomes

Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (Europe) bt Dustin Johnson/Brooks Koepka (USA) 2 and 1

Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) bt Sergio Garcia/Alex Noren (Europe) 3 and 2

Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe) bt Tiger Woods/Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 5 and 4

Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (USA) bt Ian Poulter/Rory McIlroy (Europe) 4 and 3

Morning fourballs

Rory McIlroy/Sergio Garcia (Europe) bt Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau (USA) 2 and 1

Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) bt Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (USA) 3 and 2

Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe) bt Patrick Reed/Tiger Woods (USA) 4 and 3

Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (USA) bt Ian Poulter/Jon Rahm (Europe) 2 and 1

Friday's results

Afternoon foursomes

Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose (Europe) bt Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (USA) 3 and 2

Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter (Europe) bt Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson (USA) 4 and 2

Sergio Garcia/Alex Noren (Europe) bt Phil Mickelson/Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 5 and 4

Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe) bt Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth (USA) 5 and 4

Morning fourballs

Brooks Koepka/Tony Finau (USA) bt Justin Rose/Jon Rahm (Europe) 1-up

Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler (USA) bt Rory McIlroy/Thorbjorn Olesen (Europe) 4 and 2

Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (USA) bt Paul Casey/Tyrrell Hatton (Europe) 1-up

Francesco Molinari/Tommy Fleetwood (Europe) bt Patrick Reed/Tiger Woods (USA) 3 and 1

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