Sergio surging suddenly

2021 BMW Championship

BMW Championship – Sergio surging suddenly

BMW Championship - Sergio surging suddenly
(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

OWINGS MILLS, MD. Going into the final round of the BMW Championship the focus will be on co-leaders Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay, but lurking just four shots off the pace is a most familiar name whose last top ten finish came this past March — Sergio Garcia.

BMW Championship – Sergio surging

The 41-year-old missed last week’s cut at The Northern Trust and it seemed unlikely, given his 44th position in the FedEx Cup standings, he would be moving forward to next week’s Tour Championship where the top 30 players compete for the $15 million first prize. 

Thus far, the Spaniard has scored rounds of 65, 67 and 67 and is in tie for fourth trailing the co-leaders by four. The final round will be pressure packed as players jockey for position — both up and down. The immediate goal is to get to East Lake next week, yet for Garcia there are the looming dates of late September when the next installment of the Ryder Cup Matches is played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

BMW Championship – Sergio surging

The former Masters champion has played on nine European teams and is the event’s all-time leader in points earned — 25.5. What many don’t fully appreciate is that Sergio joined the PGA TOUR in 1999 as a 19-year-old. That same year he played in his first matches at The Country Club where Europe squandered a final day four-point lead and lost. Since then, Garcia has been a member of six winning squads. To put that in perspective one can combine the winning USA Ryder Cup teams Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have played on and still be one short of Garcia’s cumulative total.

Now 41, and until this week’s BMW Championship, it appeared Garcia might actually sit out the upcoming matches. Although he did earn his 11th PGA TOUR win last October at the Sanderson Farms Championship, the balance of this season has cast him more in the role of a fringe player rather than a front liner.

BMW Championship – Sergio surging

European captain Padraig Harrington is facing a number of tough decisions in deciding which twelve golfers will make the Euro squad. How many past veterans are worth bringing back one final time? How many up-and-coming players merit a selection even if they have little or no past Ryder Cup experiences? Tough questions — no easy answers for the Irish skipper.

Sergio’s sudden surge has been a clear bright spot. The key rests now in how well he can perform in Sunday’s final round at Caves Valley. Scores have been ridiculously low and Garcia is fully aware making birdies will be essential to stay as near as possible to DeChambeau and Cantlay.

“Everyone is playing great, and you have to go out there and make a lot of birdies, and that’s all you can do,” said Garcia. “But it’s not my favorite kind of golf. I like when it’s a bit more challenging and it’s not just putting, which obviously don’t misinterpret me, you still have to hit the shots.”

BMW Championship – Sergio surging

Garcia is well aware of what the final round fireworks can mean. He has been in a good number of them throughout his career. While still youthful in appearance — Garcia in now the wily veteran. He fully realizes finishing off events is the quintessential skillset that only the truly gifted bring to the table.

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“The Playoffs nowadays, they’re so volatile. There’s so many changes that can happen with somebody being 105th in the FedExCup and having a great week and all of a sudden, he jumps to 15th or 10th or something like that or even better. Obviously, that is difficult to adjust to sometimes, but like I said, hopefully I’ll make it to the TOUR Championship again and enjoy it there.”

Though Garcia has accomplished much in his long professional career the general feeling when he first arrived on the scene was his potential to go beyond past Spanish greats such as Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. That has not happened.

BMW Championship – Sergio surging

Watching him sprint up the hill at Medinah in the 1999 PGA Championship at the 16th hole during the final round after hitting a superlative approach shot from the base of a tree still resonates. The exuberance of youth on full display.

Yet standing in his way that day was eventual winner Tiger Woods. For the balance of his best playing years, it was Garcia, like so many others, who were constantly caught up in the giant shadows cast by Woods.

BMW Championship – Sergio surging

Garcia’s determination to remain a force at the upper reaches of professional golf still burns brightly.

“I think that everybody knows what the Ryder Cup means to me. Everybody knows what I can bring to the team and to the week. But you know, resumes are resumes. At the end of the day, they don’t play. They don’t play golf. Obviously if I’m there, I’m going to play as hard as I can, like I always do, and try to help my team as much as I can. It’s as simple as that. There’s still some big weeks to come, and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Sergio’s surge could prove to be the needed sparkplug Team Europe will need to maintain hold of the Ryder Cup. 

BMW Championship – Sergio surging

As Garcia stated there’s business to take care of and that begins with Sunday’s round at the BMW Championship. A strong finish for Sergio could well mean a double-header triumph — heading to Atlanta next week and to Kohler as part of Harrington’s Euro Ryder Cup team. 

Garcia’s final round pairing is with fellow Spaniard and current World No. 1 Jon Rahm. The young bull paired with the seasoned matador. The stakes are indeed high for Sergio and he knows that better than anyone else.

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