Sergio Garcia won’t be on 2023 Ryder Cup team. He seems fine with it
DORAL, Fla. — Sergio Garcia’s Ryder Cup career has almost certainly come to a close. Ultimately it was his decision, but as with all things pro golf in 2022, he feels there’s another side to the story.
Garcia and his new teammates are at Trump National Doral this week for the LIV Golf team championship, but now that we’re within 12 months of next year’s Ryder Cup, it seems every press conference will involve some sort of question about the September event.
Only the question for Garcia had nothing to do with the Ryder Cup. He simply brought it up, acknowledging the Ryder Cup as one of the things he knew might be taken from him when he signed up for LIV. “I can only speak for myself, but I’ve definitely made the right decision,” he said. “I feel like I’m where I want to be.”
As a European hopeful for RC status, Garcia would need to maintain DP World Tour membership to earn a bid onto the Ryder Cup team. That’s step one. Then he would have had to play well enough to finish in the top six spots of qualifying, which would have been a feat. Had he not qualified automatically, he would have needed one of Luke Donald’s six captain’s picks next summer. Would he get one? It’s a hypothetical we’ll never quite understand, even while Jon Rahm argues that players like Garcia should be on that team.
But back to step one, with his DP World Tour membership. Garcia would have needed to play a minimum of four events this season to maintain that membership, which he failed to do. His new LIV Golf schedule took over in June and didn’t leave much space on the calendar. So without that membership, Garcia’s hopes for 2023 are done.
It’s possible that didn’t even matter, though, because Garcia didn’t feel welcome by the would-be members of that team as it is.
“Obviously I knew some of the things that might happen if I joined here, but at the end of the day, as we’re seeing, you can see that some of the guys on the other side don’t really want me there,” Garcia said. “I don’t want to be a burden to anyone and even less in a Ryder Cup. I’d rather be away from that as much as it hurts and make sure that Europe has the best chance of winning than me being there and three or four guys that are going to be there are going to be upset or something.”
Some of the guys on the other side, as Garcia noted, are Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry, to make things clear. Both McIlroy and Lowry figure to lead the European team in Rome next fall, and both have pointed out that the aging group of Euros who committed to LIV are mostly past their prime playing days. They wouldn’t be needed on the Ryder Cup team.
Here’s Lowry at the BMW PGA two months ago: “With all due respect, a lot of those guys over at LIV, I think they know themselves. And that’s why they went to LIV. Their Ryder Cup days are probably over.”
And here’s McIlroy the same week: “Their best days are behind them and I think they would concede that as well. We have to think about the future of the European team. We’ve got like a group of seven players — a core seven, I think — and we need to fill that extra five with young, ambitious players. We need to blood a few new people in Rome.”
McIlroy even went on to name who those core seven players are: himself, Lowry, Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton. And a quick look around the DP World Tour results this fall shows victories from Bob McIntyre and Guido Miggliozzi, two up-and-coming talents.
So is it fine that the European team is moving on to another generation of players, perhaps stiff-arming the older gents in the process? Garcia himself seems comfortable with it, even if it stings.
“I think the Ryder Cup is bigger than any of us or me for that matter, even with my record,” he said, “and I’m happy to be able to be here and enjoying my time with my three partners and trying to build something that is very exciting and that we’re extremely proud of.”
If that sounds like an equitable, acceptable conclusion, don’t go getting comfortable yourselves. Ian Poulter made it clear Wednesday morning he very much still plans on trying to qualify for the team automatically.