Given the circumstances, the response was hardly surprising.
“Not very much,” Sergio Garcia answered to reporters on Sunday evening when asked how much he enjoyed his week at St. Andrews, where he closed in 73 to barely finish inside the top 70 at The Open.
“I enjoyed the crowd, but that was about it.”
Garcia’s English interview was brief, but as he stepped in front of the Spanish press, he opened a vein. Having drawn criticism from his peers, media and fans alike for his decision to sign with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, Garcia had already given up his PGA Tour membership in lieu of being suspended by the Tour.
Now, still irked with how he’s been received for what he calls a “professional and personal decision,” Garcia says he’s prepared to go a step further: He plans to not only relinquish his DP World Tour membership but also, as a result, his Ryder Cup eligibility.
“I am quite clear about what I am going to do with the European circuit, probably leave it,” Garcia said Sunday. “I want to play where I feel loved, and right now in the European Tour I am not feeling loved. I am very happy with what I have achieved, and I am going to try to enjoy it. I will play less and will spend more time at home. If I cannot play any more majors, that's the way it is, but it is not something that bothers me a lot. I am feeling sad because of the Ryder Cup, but right now, in the way I am playing, I won't be selected.
“… I have given more than half my life to the European Tour, and I wanted to continue playing it, but I am not going to be where they don't want me.”
So far, the DPWT has opted to only fine players who have competed for LIV rather than suspend or ban them – Ian Poulter and two other LIV players were even granted stays by a judge to compete in the co-sanctioned Scottish Open earlier this month. There also haven’t been any official decisions as it pertains to LIV members being allowed to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup, which will next be played in September 2023 in Italy.
But Garcia, one of Europe’s most decorated Cuppers with 10 caps and numerous records, said he took exception to comments he says former European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn made during last month’s BMW International Open. Bjorn, according to Garcia, said to the players who had joined LIV, “We don't love any of you, and all players say so.”
“I already have [reached] an age and had enough suffering to be enduring nonsense like that,” Garcia said.
Despite Bjorn’s claims, Garcia had at least one defender on Sunday at St. Andrews – and a somewhat unexpected one at that. Jon Rahm, Garcia’s countryman but also a staunch PGA Tour supporter, told Sports Illustrated that he hoped the tours and LIV could find a “simple solution” and allow LIV players such as Garcia to remain in good standing with the tours and the Ryder Cup.
It's unclear if Rahm was aware of Garcia’s most recent statements, but he seemed to imply that Garcia’s decision to play LIV would indeed keep him from teeing it up on the other tours and the Ryder Cup, which Rahm admitted does make him “a little more angry.”
“Sergio knows very well that he has dedicated his life to the European Tour in his 25 years as a pro,’’ Rahm said. “That they turn their backs on him that way doesn’t seem right to me. And it is what it is. It is not my decision, and that he has to make this decision, it hurts me. It’s a shame also because I know that he wanted to play in Spain, and he won’t be able to play either the Spanish Open or at Valderrama. And it bothers me even more that he can’t play the Ryder Cup. … In the end, he does what is best for him. And if the others do not cooperate, it is what is. I hope they sit down and talk.’’
But should the eventual solution not favor Garcia, he appears to have come to grips with the reality that his Ryder Cup career could be over.
“I feel sorry for the Ryder Cup,” said Garcia, who has been on six winning Cup teams and is the event’s all-time leader in points won (28.5). “My resignation is not official, but I'm going to make it effective. I have what I have and I am very happy with it, and I want to enjoy it to the fullest.”