Sergio Garcia’s reaction to snub as he misses out on first Ryder Cup since 1997

Brian Harman reacts to winning 151st Open Championship

When Europe attempts to claw back the Ryder Cup from the USA in Rome later this month they will be doing so without the services of a legendary figure for the first time in over a quarter of a century. No man in the history of the competition has won more points than Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard has earned the European team a record 28.5 points since his very first appearance at Brookline back in 1999.

Since then he has played in 10 Ryder Cups, winning six of them. Poor form saw him miss out on a playing role in 2010 but he was named a vice-captain as Europe won back the coveted trophy from their American counterparts at Celtic Manor.

Although Padraig Harrington’s team were trounced by the USA at Whistling Straits two years ago. Garcia still managed to win three points over the weekend, making him the all-time record points-scorer in the competition’s 43-event history.

But the golfing landscape has changed beyond recognition over the last 18 months and the Spaniard’s decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour and subsequent resignation from the PGA Tour means he has plummeted down the rankings and was not in contention for a place in Luke Donald’s team this time around.

The team’s policy of not including any LIV players extended to vice-captaincy as well, meaning that Garcia will not be at the Ryder Cup in any capacity for the first time in 26 years.

The grim reality will not have come as a surprise to the 2017 Masters champion, whose decision to join LIV has financially benefitted him significantly.

But even team skipper Donald admits that it will be strange not having bubbly ‘El Nino’ in the camp this time.

Speaking about Garcia to the Associated Press after the entire European team practised at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, Donald said: “We’ve chatted a little bit and he certainly wishes the team all the best. It’s different for me (too).

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“It will be the first Ryder Cup I’ve been involved without Sergio. But he understands the role and he was more than supportive when I talked to him just a few weeks ago.”

The pressure is firmly on the European team to make amends for their dismal showing at Whistling Straits, when they were humiliated by the Americans 19-9 in what was the most one-sided Ryder Cup in history.

But Donald appears determined to inject fresh blood this time round with four rookies included in his team. Wildcards Sepp Strakka, Nicolai Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg will make their Ryder Cup debuts in Rome, alongside automatic qualifier Robert McIntyre.

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