Aug
20
2012
Sergio comes through in the clutch? TBD…
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Sergio's reactions = best in golf

In my mind, Sergio Garcia’s name is synonymous with the Ryder Cup. He lives and loves the biennial team matches. Name another player who shows more passion and intensity, not to mention has better cheerleading skills? Yeah, exactly.

Garcia was previously inside the European/World points list (Team Europe has a different qualifying system than the U.S.) before Ian Poulter went nuts in the final round of the PGA Championship to place T3, and surpass the Spaniard.

The automatic spots aren’t finalized until after this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland, but Sergio is likely to lock up a berth with his clutch performance at the Wyndham Championship–which will be completed on Monday due to the great flood unexpectedly sweeping through Greensboro on Sunday.

Oh no. I hope I didn’t just jinx him, but I’m trying to think of the last time I used the words “clutch” and “Sergio” in the same sentence. Probably last year at one of the tournaments he won. Speaking of which, it’s been driving me crazy that the commentators keep saying Sergio hasn’t won since 2008. Yes, that’s accurate when referring to the PGA Tour, but from what I’ve heard the last two days, they haven’t clarified that minor detail. I mean, it’s kind of insulting to both Sergio and the European Tour. Do those two victories not count because they weren’t in America? I just found it a little misleading. /End rant.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, right.

Heading into the final regular-season PGA Tour event–which was delayed because of torrential showers and will resume on Monday at 9am–he needed a big week to ensure a move back inside the world points standings. There’s a lot of golf left, but Sergio is currently leading a packed leaderboard at the Wyndham. He’s 15-under through four holes in the final round. (Hmm, 14 more holes to play…) I’d love to see him win for the first time on the PGA Tour in over four years.

From my super thorough calculations, chances are he should likely make the team.

To surpass Poulter, Garcia needs to finish in a three-way tie for third or in a six-way to for second or better. And to surpass Poulter and a struggling Martin Kaymer, Garcia needs to finish in a two-way tie for third or six-way tie for second or better. (Kudos to a Golf Channel graphic for that info.)

Two years ago, Garcia was not in a happy place golf-wise and took a self-imposed break from the game, which coincided with the 2010 Ryder Cup. His form was poor, so he wouldn’t have earned a spot on the European team on merit, and would’ve had to rely on a captain’s pick, which was a stretch considering Colin Montgomerie was already faced with a difficult decision of choosing from a strong group of players. Instead Sergio volunteered his services as a glorified cart driver and head cheerleader a special assistant captain.

If for some reason Sergio doesn’t qualify on points, I can’t see European Team captain Jose Maria Olazabal leaving him off the squad. I’d put money on Garcia being one of the three captain’s picks, but hopefully it won’t come down to that. We (a bunch of Americans, no less!) discussed this in PGA Tour Confidential last night and all agreed Sergio’s presence is a necessity at the Ryder Cup.

*****

On a related note, who should fill the remaining spots on the European squad? I made a strong case for Nicholas Colsaerts, who was climbing up the leaderboard before play was called in Greensboro. He’s probably too far back to win — or rather he’ll run out of holes. Through 12 holes in the final round, Colsaerts is 11-under, trailing Garcia by four at the moment. I’ve been keeping an eye on him after tipping him as a dark horse at The Open (where he placed T7). He not only hits it a mile (leading European Tour in driving distance with 317.1 average on holes measured), but he’s a solid iron player.

Colsaerts added a few tournaments to move up in the world points standings and earn a spot on the Ryder Cup sqaud, including the Wyndham and this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. In order to pass Poulter and Kaymer, Colsaerts likely needs to finish in a two-way tie for second or better. I’m pulling for him–as you know, I’m a sucker for the underdog. It also might be a shot in the dark for him to make the team if he doesn’t “earn” his way. Well, it depends on how things shape up at the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Kaymer is sitting out and not playing the Johnnie Walker–probably to protect his world ranking points. Since he’s been struggling, I’m guessing he doesn’t want to mess up his chances by a poor showing and actually losing points. Which makes sense. But that’s pure speculation on my part. Traditionally, he hasn’t played there, so perhaps he simply doesn’t like the course and/or doesn’t fit in his schedule.

Alright, let’s see if Sergio can close out the Wyndham Championship. Predictions not just welcome — but encouraged.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)