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I've been following golf since 2004. I had just started playing the game at that point and have been hooked ever since, and one of my favourite players to watch over the last 18 years has been Sergio Garcia.
I've loved how he plays the game with his scintillating short game and unique, mystical swing that has made him one of the elite ball strikers of his generation. The lag, the rhythm, the flair, Garcia plays the game of golf slightly differently to everyone else and it's truly a joy to watch. Following Garcia has been a rollercoaster from his stoic Ryder Cup performances to his controversies, 16 European Tour wins, 11 PGA Tour triumphs and some agonising Major misses - Carnoustie 2007 and Oakland Hills 2008 at the hands of Padraig Harrington come to mind.
If his putting could have come close to his ball striking he would have won an awful lot of Majors, and one of my most favourite days as a golf fan was 9th April 2017 when he took down Justin Rose in a crazy final day duel to win his maiden Major title and his Green Jacket at Augusta National.
Sergio is an icon of the European game, coming alive every two years in the blue and yellow for Team Europe, becoming the Ryder Cup's record points scorer. He has always had his brushes with controversy but I've been able to shrug it off as a fan of his, but these past six months have been difficult - he certainly hasn't helped himself.
Garcia has joined LIV Golf, which I have no problem with, but the way he has left the PGA Tour, and perhaps the DP World Tour too pending February's court case, has not been the most dignified and he's been widely criticised for it from news outlets and across social media.
"I can't wait to leave this tour" he raged at the Wells Fargo Champonship before an even worse story emerged a month later. "This tour is s***, you're all f****d," is what he is reported to have said in the locker room at the BMW International Open in Munich, where DP World Tour pros including Robert MacIntyre were present. "Amazing how fast you can lose respect for someone that you’ve looked up to all your life," MacIntyre tweeted at the time, which we now know was related to Sergio's locker room rant.
Another of my true favourite players is Rory McIlroy, and I've loved watching his and Garcia's relationship through the years on tour and in the Ryder Cup. But even that relationship looks to have broken down this year, and that might spell the end of his Ryder Cup career. Garcia has almost been cast away and vilified by media and fans following a controversial past six months. It's sad to see one of the game's most charismatic and talented players in this scenario.
The Spaniard was further criticised this past week following his withdrawal after round one at the BMW PGA Championship. He was spotted at a Texas football game just a day later and reports emerged that he was facing a fine for not giving the DP World Tour a reason for his withdrawal. Garcia may have been treated poorly by the PGA and DP World Tours but we've only seen one side of the story this year, and that has been his actions and comments, both public and reported.
Future Ryder Cups without Sergio Garcia would have been unthinkable 12 months ago. Now it's a real possibility. He's represented Europe on ten occasions and would have, and still could, play his 11th next year in Rome. That is looking more and more unlikely as the days go by - even if LIV Golf players are allowed to qualify - due to the feelings of some of his peers' and the DP World Tour's stance towards LIV and the defectors.
“I have said it once, I've said it a hundred times, I don't think any of those guys should be on the Ryder Cup team," Rory McIlroy said. "I think we were in need of a rebuild, anyway. We did well with the same guys for a very long time but again as I just said, everything comes to an end at some point." A damning verdict.
The Spaniard was nailed on to follow his countrymen Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal as Ryder Cup captains. Perhaps the away match in 2029 at Hazeltine would have been his. To think that might not happen is just sad.
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Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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