The Sergio Garcia Ryder Cup Era Appears To Be Over
We've got ourselves an end-of-an-era situation on our hands in Europe, where Sergio Garcia's two-decade long marriage with the DP World Tour appears to be all but over—and, as a result, his Ryder Cup future is in serious doubt.
Per numerous reports, Garcia was indeed fined for his antics around last month's BMW PGA Championship and appears ready to let his DP World Tour membership expire. A bit of background info: Garcia was among the first wave of players to join LIV Golf, a decision that saw him immediately suspended by the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. However, while PGA Tour players were unsuccessful in suing in a Ninth Circuit court to regain their playing privileges, a British court did indeed issue a temporary restraining order that allowed LIV guys to play in DP World Tour events. They seized this opportunity as a chance to earn world ranking points, and a dozen-plus LIVers turned up to the BMW Championship that week. That produced an awkward situation—especially because the LIV guys knocked some guys out of the event who play the DP World Tour full time.
"It does bug me that somebody who has played 20 DP World events this year cannot be given the opportunity to play a flagship event because some people that earned it, to an extent, are being given an opportunity when they couldn't care any less about the event," said Garcia's fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm. "They don't know. They don't care. They don't know the history of this event. They are only here because they are trying to get world-ranking points and trying to finish in the top 50 [to get into the majors], and that's clear as day."
Rory McIlroy agreed: “It is what it is,” he said at Wentworth. “They are here. They are playing the golf tournament. My opinion is they shouldn’t be here, but again that’s just my opinion. But we are all going to tee it up on the first tee tomorrow, and we are all going to go play 72 holes, which is a novelty for them at this point, and then we’ll go from there.”
Rahm likely wasn't referring to Garcia, who has played the DP World Tour since 1999, but you get the overall sentiment. There was some tension in the air at Wentworth that week, and the tournament was thrown into further turmoil when Queen Elizabeth died during the latter stages of Thursday's opening round. Event organizers opted to skip Friday's round and shorten the event to 54 holes. Rather than wait to finish his second round on Saturday, Garcia withdrew after an opening-round 76…only to be seen on Saturday back at his home in Austin, Texas, hanging out at the ESPN College GameDay set.
The optics weren't fantastic, and he apparently failed to provide the DPWT with an explanation for his withdrawal. You can't do that—professionals are allowed to withdraw only due to injury or a personal emergency, and per Sports Illustrated's Bob Harig, Garcia didn't even feign an excuse—maybe because, in his own words, he doesn't "feel loved" on the tour he first started playing.
The no-show resulted in a fine, and Sergio appears to have had enough of his old stomping grounds. Keeping DP World Tour membership really isn't difficult—you've just got to play three Rolex Series events and one in your home country—but Garcia told Harig that he didn't bother entering in next week's Mallorca Open, which would've satisfied the home country requirement.
“I thought about it; of course,” Garcia told Harig. “It was a hard decision. But unfortunately it doesn’t feel like I’m very welcome there, so I don’t want to be a bother to anyone.”
Losing your DPWT membership comes with a pretty nasty side effect: you're no longer eligible for the Ryder Cup, at least under current rules. The DPWT holds a significant stake in Ryder Cup Europe, which puts on the event along with the PGA of America, and to be a member of the European team one must be a member of the DP World Tour. (That's part of the reason the requirements for membership are so minimal; they want to appease the U.S.-based European players who still want to play in the Ryder Cup.)
Alas, it seems like Sergio Garcia has played his last Ryder Cup—which is significant for a few reasons. First and foremost, he is the winningest player in Ryder Cup history with a record 28.5 points earned across his 10 appearances. Just last year, he and Rahm won all three of their team matches and were a lone bright spot in their team's blowout loss. Rahm, for what it's worth, believes that the Ryder Cup should be the best European players vs. the best American players, no matter what tour they play on, and he said as much during his victory at last week's Spanish Open. McIlroy, on the other hand, has been steadfast in his belief that LIV Golfers should not play the Ryder Cup.
However you feel on the issue, given the DP World Tour leaning into its "strategic alliance" with the PGA Tour and its central role in the Ryder Cup, there are no signs that the eligibility requirement will be changed ahead of next year's matches in Rome.
“I’ve always said I love the Ryder Cup too much,” Garcia told SI. “I obviously would love to keep being a part of it. When I see that so many people are against [him playing] … if the team is better without me, I’d rather be out of it.
“There’s obviously several guys who feel strongly that way. The [DP World] Tour is on that same thought. So I don’t want to be something that might hurt the team. I love the Ryder Cup too much. Obviously it’s sad for me, how much I love the Ryder Cup and everything I’ve been able to do with Europe there. That’s the way they want it. I’m just helping out.”
That reads like a man who has accepted the consequences of his decision and is content with moving on. All that guaranteed money from LIV probably made the Ryder Cup pill a bit easier to swallow. But then there's the issue of his captaincy. If we were having this conversation last year, I'd tell you there's not a surer bet to be a Ryder Cup captain than Garcia, given his record and his popularity among his fellow European players. But as the Henrik Stenson fiasco showed, the Ryder Cup's not messing around with LIV guys. That might change in the future, but as of this very moment, Sergio Garcia very much exists outside the Ryder Cup universe.
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