Ryder Cup

Garcia 'integral' for Europe at Ryder Cup

2018-09-24 20:06
Sergio Garcia (Getty Images)

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines - European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on Monday hailed wildcard pick Sergio Garcia as "integral" to his side's hopes of lifting the trophy this week, after the Spaniard's return to form in Portugal.

Former Masters champion Garcia was selected by Bjorn for the matchplay showdown despite a poor run which has seen him miss five straight cuts at major tournaments and slip to 28th in the world rankings.

But the 38-year-old played last week's Portugal Masters in a final attempt to find form before the start of the Ryder Cup on Friday, and posted his first top-10 finish since July with a six-under-par final round of 65.

"I was pleased for Sergio," said Bjorn at Le Golf National. "I think he felt like... he wanted to get out there and shoot some good numbers and feel good about himself on the golf course.

"I know what Sergio stands for and I know what he brings to this team, and I've said it all along - he's an integral part of what we are and who we are.

"That's what is, but he'll be happy with what he's done this week. He came in here in good spirits and with a big smile on his face and that's what he will send on to his team-mates."

Garcia will be playing in his ninth Ryder Cup in France, 19 years since becoming the youngest player in the event's history as a teenager at Brookline.

Europe are bidding to regain the trophy after a 17-11 defeat at Hazeltine in 2016, and Bjorn believes that Garcia is ready to take on the might of the Americans, who have nine major champions among their ranks.

"We all know that Sergio at his best, he's one of the best golfers in the world," added the Dane.

"He's in a good place. He's got a big smile on his face, happy and he just can't wait to get out there, and like all of them on this team, they are really buzzing about this Ryder Cup coming up and they want to get out and play golf.

"I'm delighted with the conversations I've had with him. They have been positive and they have been great, and he knows what he's doing and he's in a good place."

Garcia has had his fair share of memorable Ryder Cup moments, but Europe will also again be able to turn to the talismanic Ian Poulter after he missed out on a playing role two years ago.

As the Englishman failed to qualify for last weekend's Tour Championship in the US, he was on the driving range at Le Golf National bright and early on Monday morning.

"I think he wanted to go midweek last week if he could," smiled Bjorn. "He looks forward to this. We all know Ian's history and feelings about the Ryder Cup.

"He wanted to get out there... He felt like he wanted to get up and just hit a few. Yeah, he's that type of guy. He's certainly ready to go."

The United States head into the clash as favourites, despite having not won in Europe for 25 years, after Tiger Woods won his first title for over five years at East Lake on Sunday and Dustin Johnson wrestled the world number one spot back from Justin Rose.

But Bjorn insisted that a strong team ethic will prove crucial.

"I will stand behind them and I will support them and be that person that is with them all the way," he said.

"But we do this as a group. We are one team. We are one group of people that has one goal."

Read more on:    ryder cup  |  sergio garcia  |  thomas bjorn  |  golf


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