Garcia not too young to help
NEWPORT, Wales — Sergio Garcia has been running all over Celtic Manor — cheering the Europeans, offering tips to the rookies, relaying messages to his boss, keeping up with all the matches.
Make no mistake, El Nino would rather be playing.
But this is the next best thing.
“It’s just so special,’’ Garcia said. “All of the cheers and all of the singing and everything, you just don’t get it anywhere.’’
The 30-year-old Spaniard is serving as an assistant captain for the European team, a role that usually goes to golfers in their 40s and 50s.
Garcia has been mired in a slump and knew he had no chance of being named to his sixth straight Ryder Cup team, even with a career record of 14-3-3. So he asked captain Colin Montgomerie if he could help as a vice captain.
Monty had already named Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, and Paul McGinley as his assistants, but he decided to bring Garcia aboard, too.
“It’s fantastic that a 30-year-old can do that,’’ Montgomerie said.
He compared Garcia’s love of the Ryder Cup with that of two other Spaniards: Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.
“I try to bring as much as I can,’’ Garcia said. “Unfortunately, I can’t bring any birdies, so I try to bring a little experience, a little joy, and just trying to help everybody as much as I can and make them feel as comfortable as possible.’’
Maybe serving as a captain will help him get his career on the right track. Garcia hasn’t won a tournament in nearly two years, and he has slipped to No. 59 in the world rankings.
“This is no doubt going to help me,’’ he said. “But that’s not the main goal. The main goal here this week is for the team to play well, for us to regain the cup.’’
Olazabal also joined Montgomerie’s staff this weekend, returning to a role he said he’d never take again. He served the role two years ago under Nick Faldo, but didn’t want to be a deputy again because he said it lacked responsibility. Olazabal lost out to Montgomerie for the captaincy in January.
The 44-year-old Spaniard, who played in seven Ryder Cups, was in Wales for business when asked by Montgomerie to help in the second and third sessions.
Montgomerie praised all his assistants for making his job easier, even though they’ve been talking so much the captain needed three batteries to keep his radio going yesterday.
“The strength I have in those five guys on the golf course right now is second to none, and they have been superb on this radio, I tell you what,’’ Montgomerie said. “I get reports on every shot, on every putt, on every incident, on every occasion.’’
The boards stationed around Celtic Manor had been showing various matches around the course, with not as much emphasis on the overall scores. Montgomerie asked officials to put up the scores from all the matches, hoping it would spur the home fans if they saw plenty of blue — the color used when a European team is ahead.
Montgomerie’s tactic worked perfectly in the third session yesterday. The Europeans were leading in all six matches when play was halted because of darkness.
“What I want to have out there is those six blue numbers on that left-hand side of that board shining very bright tomorrow morning, and to continue that way,’’ he said.