Sergio Garcia puts Ryder Cup place in doubt by skipping BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth next week despite plea by Europe captain Padraig Harrington
- Sergio Garcia will not be at Wentworth next week for BMW PGA Championship
- The 41-year-old is concerned about the demands of travelling across the Atlantic
- Captain Padraig Harrington had urged all those seeking a wildcard to turn up
Sergio Garcia will not be at Wentworth next week for the BMW PGA Championship, the last event before Europe’s Ryder Cup team is finalised.
Captain Padraig Harrington had urged all those seeking a wildcard to turn up and play but the Spaniard has declined the invitation.
Call it a snub if you like, and no doubt some will make mischief given the history of animosity between the pair. But it really is nothing of the kind.
Sergio Garcia will not be at Wentworth next week for the BMW PGA Championship
In an exclusive interview with Sportsmail, Garcia explained at length his sound reasoning for staying in America. Not to mention the aching desire of Europe’s all-time record points scorer to play in his 10th Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in three weeks.
‘Believe me, if I was 30 years of age I’d be on the plane to London on Sunday night,’ said Garcia, one of only four Europeans to make the top 30 competing in the Tour Championship at East Lake.
‘But I’m 41 now and I know my own body. This is my third week in a row and if I went over to Wentworth I know what would happen. If I did get picked for the Ryder Cup, there would be a great danger that I’d arrive back in America low on energy and unable to help the team as much as I’d want.
‘So I’m much better staying over here and resting. Then, if Padraig does pick me, I know I’ll be fit and ready to go and deliver.’
Captain Padraig Harrington had urged all those seeking a wildcard to turn up at Wentworth
Garcia is not the only one skipping Wentworth. Rory McIlroy and world No 1 Jon Rahm are also staying on this side of the Atlantic, although their Ryder Cup places are confirmed.
It leaves Viktor Hovland as the only Euro competing here who is going back. At 23, the man who will become the first Norwegian to play in the biennial match is also comfortably the youngest of the quartet.
Is there a danger of Garcia not being picked? Rahm and McIlroy were incredulous at the idea that Harrington would react badly to Garcia staying in America.
‘Sergio not in the team? Wow. It’s not my job, thankfully, but I can’t imagine him not being picked,’ McIlroy told Sportsmail. Added Rahm, with a broad smile: ‘I’m going to go out on a limb and make a very bold claim that he’ll be picked. That’s my guess.’ Right now the picks appear to be Garcia and Ian Poulter plus one other — perhaps Henrik Stenson on current form. But what if Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari play well at Wentworth?
Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm will miss event, although their Ryder Cup places are confirmed
Garcia got into this event with a gutsy top-six finish last week and opened with a useful 68 to move up to 23rd. Following a summer when fellow Spaniard Rahm appeared the only European Ryder Cup man playing true to form, there are encouraging signs that others are following his lead.
As well as Garcia, Hovland opened with a 66 to move to within six shots of the leader, Patrick Cantlay. Rahm himself shot 65 to be three behind, having started five adrift in the adjusted scoring format. Rory McIlroy shot 68 to be nine back.
In the Italian Open on the European Tour, Tommy Fleetwood, another guaranteed his place, is only two shots off the halfway lead held by Australian Min Woo Lee. After two successive top-five finishes, Stenson is in the mix again, just three behind.
Back here at East Lake, Patrick Reed remained the name on most lips after the astounding revelations on Thursday of his horrifying battle with bilateral pneumonia. Following his opening 72, he was in the second group on the course and three over after eight holes.