Sergio Garcia finished a miserable Open Championship yesterday and then announced he was on the verge of quitting the DP World Tour.
The Spaniard resigned his PGA Tour membership to join Greg Norman and his Saudi Arabia-backed LIV circuit and is now set to do the same in Europe, saying he won’t play “where he is not wanted”.
Garcia also accepts that decision will bring the curtain down on his Ryder Cup career, in which he has won a record 28.5 points.
The DP World Tour has not followed the PGA Tour’s lead in banning players who have jumped ship, which allowed the Spaniard to play the BMW International in Munich last month.
And Garcia claimed that 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, a strident supporter of the DP World Tour, confronted him at that event and told him to leave.
“I want to play where they want me; I like to feel loved and sincerely on the European Tour I don’t feel loved right now,” he said.
“When Thomas Bjorn came up to us at the BMW and said, ‘We don’t want any of you here and all the players say the same’, well I’m at an age to not bother putting up with rubbish like that. ”
Now 42, Garcia has won 16 times on the European circuit and played in 10 Ryder Cups. And while upset about giving up on future matches, his mind is made up.
“I will play less and spend more time at home,” he stated. “If I don’t play in the Majors, I don’t play, but it honestly doesn’t bother me.
“It’s a shame about the Ryder Cup, but the way I’m playing, I wouldn’t get in the team.”
Garcia, who was fined by the DP World Tour for playing in the inaugural LIV event at Centurion last month, also had one parting shot at a Tour he has played on for all 23 years of his professional career.
“It’s a shame what they are doing because the European Tour is going to end up as the fifth biggest in the world.”
Norman was asked to stay away from St Andrews, but however much The R&A have tried, the issue of LIV has been lurking.
The rumor mill has gone into overdrive with new names being linked, with Swedish newspaper expressen yesterday reporting that 2016 Open Champion and current Europe Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson could be one of them.
But for Garcia, and fellow rebels Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, the reality was hitting home that this could be their final Open, and it is entirely self-inflicted.
The farewell has hardly been memorable either – Westwood tied 38th, Poulter 47th and Garcia even lower in a share of 68th – his worst result over four rounds.
Few have come as close, without success, over the past 20 years to winning the Claret Jug as this trio.
Between them, they have played 72 Opens stretching back to 1995, with 19 top-tens and seven top-threes.
All have been close to holding the trophy aloft. Westwood was second in 2010 and blew a two-shot 54-hole lead in 2013. Poulter finished second to Padraig Harrington in 2008.
For Garcia, there was the heartache of play-off defeat to the Irishman the year before at Carnoustie and a runner-up finish behind Rory McIlroy at Royal Liverpool eight years ago.
But using the criteria for 2022 qualification, none of them is exempt to play at Royal Liverpool next year, although Westwood hinted that he would go through final qualifying if necessary.
The LIV events they have signed up for do not currently possess any world ranking points, the most relevant currency in the game.
And given that The R&A’s chief executive, Martin Slumbers, sits on the board that decides what points should be allocated to which events, it is hard to imagine that situation changing drastically anytime soon.
With reduced fields, no cut and no ranking points at stake, these represent little more than obnoxiously wealthy exhibitions – a far cry from what we have witnessed these last four days around the Old Course.