The Ryder Cup gets in your blood, the European players will tell you.
For Sergio Garcia, that infusion first happened in 1995 at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York, where he was competing for Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup.
“I remember Seve [Ballesteros] grabbed me under the ropes, and I think I walked – I think it was the 12th hole, a little bit of the 12th hole, and we were talking a little bit and he was explaining things to me. So that was obviously amazing. Took a picture and stuff,” Garcia recalled on Tuesday.
“Then I remember walking to the international pavilion and saw some of the European crowds just singing, and the energy that I felt, I remember as a 15-year-old I was there and I was like, I have to be a part of this at some point in my life.”
Europe won that competition in ’95 and it has since dominated the series, winning nine of the last 12.
Garcia made his debut in '99 at Brookline. While his side lost, the then 19-year-old played in all five sessions, going 3-1-1. He's now 41 and competing in his 10th Ryder Cup. He’s been part of six victorious teams and has amassed 25 ½ points, more than anyone in the history of the biennial competition.
Some Sergio numbers:
- Overall record: 22-12-7
- Foursomes record: 10-4-3
- Fourball record: 8-4-3
- Singles record: 4-4-1
- Partners: Lee Westwood (7), Luke Donald (6), Jesper Parnevik (4), Rory McIlroy (4), Martin Kaymer (2), Rafa Cabrera Bello (2), Alex Noren (2), Jose Maria Olazabal (2), Miguel Angel Jimenez (1), Paul Casey (1), Nicolas Colsaerts (1)
“I've obviously had amazing partners, so I've obviously done some good things myself. But I've just been able to gel nicely with all the partners that I've had, and we've had an amazing time. I've been very thankful for that,” said Garcia.
A common refrain from players in a team competition is that they would rather go 0-5 as an individual and win the event than go 5-0 and lose as a team. Garcia said as much on Tuesday, noting that he wasn't aware until the final day at Le Golf National that he was the all-time points earner. He was more focused on closing out the Americans and winning back the cup.
“To be totally honesty, wasn't really aware until Sunday three years ago in Paris, because it's never been a goal of mine,” he said. “Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of it and it's something that obviously I'm going to have at least the rest of my life, personally, but once you step on that first tee it's not about you, it's about the team.”