The countdown is firmly on to the resumption of European and US rivalries in the Ryder Cup, but there will be at least one glaring absentee – Sergio Garcia.
In a glittering Ryder Cup career, featuring 10 competitions from 1999 to 2021, Garcia won 25 of 44 matches, including a key victory with Luke Donald over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker at the 2012 Miracle of Medinah.
However, the 2017 Masters champion signed for LIV Golf in 2022 before later resigning from the DP World Tour in a messy exit. So, while USA have handed a wildcard to LIV pro Brooks Koepka, European captain Donald has overlooked pal Garcia.
Captain Donald revealed he called Garcia recently to let him know that he wouldn’t be taking part in this year’s event – not even as one of his five vice captains. “We’ve chatted a little bit and he certainly wishes the team all the best. It’s different for me (too),” Donald said on Monday after his entire team practised at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
“It will be the first Ryder Cup I’ve been involved in without Sergio. But he understands the role and he was more than supportive when I talked to him just a few weeks ago,” added Donald.
Garcia , 43, was just 19 when he made his debut at Brookline in 1999 and picked up 3.5 points in the losing side. Since then, he has been a fixture in every side, except for the 2010 Ryder Cup, when he took a break following a slump but was named as a vice captain for the event at Celtic Manor.
Donald’s team this year is formed of wildcards Ludvig Aberg, Tommy Fleetwood, Sepp Straka, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry and Nicolai Hojgaard. They join Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Robert MacIntyre, who claimed the six automatic qualification spots for Rome.
Aberg has been a pro for just three months, but the former No.1 amateur won the European Masters the day before Donald announced his team. “We’ve known about Ludvig for a long time,” stated Donald. “He obviously came out to the professional circuit and picked it up pretty quickly, some very strong finishes….