Superb García repays Bjørn’s faith at Ryder Cup

Sergio García has helped Europe claim a commanding lead during this year’s Ryder Cup. (AFP pic)

PARIS: Some eyebrows were raised at the Ryder Cup wildcard selection of Sergio García on the back of a poor season but, after winning his first two matches in emphatic style, the Spaniard has shown that he can deliver on the course as well as in the team room.

There was a suspicion that Ryder Cup veteran García had been chosen primarily for his infectious enthusiasm and likeability, though he has said himself during the week that he did not feel he had anything to prove.

Now he and captain Thomas Bjørn will be feeling quietly pleased with themselves after his superb displays helped Europe to an 8-4 lead halfway through Saturday’s action.

On Friday, García linked up with rookie Alex Norén to destroy Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau 5&4, and it could have been even more emphatic as they led by seven after a front-nine birdie-fest.

García then teamed up with Rory McIlroy in the first match of Saturday’s fourballs, and the duo produced a scintillating performance to beat Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau 2&1.

The Europeans dovetailed superbly to surge four-up after eight holes, a lead they still held after 12.

Things then got a bit nerve-wracking when the Americans won three in a row to cut the lead to one with two holes remaining.

But that proved merely the scene-setter for Garcia, who settled it on the 17th by draining a superb sliding six-metre putt for a birdie to send the packed galleries ballistic.

García, too, exploded with emotion before disappearing under a mass of camp-followers.

“It was amazing,” García said. “I thought we played great all day, but they started coming hard at us in the last few holes. “There were a couple of mistakes but we knew we just had to keep giving ourselves chances. It was great for Rory to make that par putt (on 17) because it gave me the freedom to go for it.”

This week’s two wins take 38-year-old García’s career Ryder Cup points total to 24.5 – half a point behind the competition’s all-time leading scorer Nick Faldo.