Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose have welcomed the inclusion of Sergio Garcia in the European Ryder Cup team for the clash against Team USA later this month.
With five of Europe’s eight automatic qualifiers being rookies for the showdown in Paris, captain Thomas Bjorn opted for experience with his four wildcard picks as he added Garcia to his line-up along with Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson.
Garcia is currently enjoying a break from competitive golf after a poor run of form over the summer, but Bjorn is banking on the Spaniard to make a positive contribution both on the course and in the team room at Le Golf National.
McIlroy and Rose admitted players such as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace, Matt Fitzpatrick and Russell Knox were unlucky to miss out on a wildcard, but both were fully supportive of Bjorn’s captain’s picks and highlighted the importance of having experience in such a high-pressure competition.
I feel with the five rookies we have, experience will be a big thing, especially at home, said McIlroy. I think the three, Paul, Ian and Henrik, they were certain and then it was just between Sergio, Rafa, maybe Matt Fitzpatrick, a couple of those guys.
But at the end I think with Sergio’s record in the Ryder Cup, and I think the intangibles as well, the things people don’t see what he brings to the team room.
He’s made my experiences at Ryder Cups better, he’s been a great partner for me and he’s been great in the team room. Obviously his record speaks for itself, but it’s the stuff people don’t see that is basically what got him this wildcard pick.
McIlroy’s sentiments were echoed by Rose, who added: Sergio has tons of experience in the Ryder Cup, and Thomas is banking that he’s going to bring that enthusiasm that he often does to the Ryder Cup and it’s all about winning points.
Many players deserve a spot in the Ryder Cup team, but no one is here to do anybody favours, either. It’s about how can you assemble 12 guys to put points on the board when it counts on Friday, Saturday, Sunday in a Ryder Cup and Thomas obviously felt Sergio was more likely to deliver a point when needed.
Matt Wallace became part of the conversation and every credit to him. He’s kind of new on the scene so that would have been an interesting introduction to the team, but I think he just got to keep doing what he’s doing and there will be many Ryder Cups in his future.
I also feel a bit sorry for Rafa. He fought hard the last few weeks, and the Ryder Cup is a big deal to him. He’s a great competitor and obviously he’s a good friend of Sergio’s, so it’s bittersweet for him.