Garcia's sprint for the line earns place in Jose's Ryder Cup plans
22:00 GMT, 20 August 2012
Who would have thought that a second tier event in the deep south of America would have such a profound effect on the composition of Europe's Ryder Cup team
At the Wyndham Championship, which concluded on Monday following storms on Sunday, Sergio Garcia showed the timing of Usain Bolt to complete his first win in America for four years to make Europe's team and knock out Ian Poulter from the last automatic place.
Poulter had gone above Garcia after finishing in the top three at the US PGA Championship the previous week. With Garcia palpably out of sorts, another Ryder Cup on the sidelines appeared to be looming for the gifted Spaniard. What a response he delivered to such talk, winning by a two-stroke margin that was more comfortable than it sounds.
Chicago-bound: Sergio Garcia hugs his caddie after winning the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro
Holed it: Garcia on the way to his win
Now he has booked his place on the flight to Medinah, and what a poignant reunion that promises to be. It was there in 1999 as a 19-year-old that Garcia finished a stroke behind Tiger Woods at the US PGA. Who could ever have believed back then he would still be waiting for a major all these years later
At Medinah, expect him to be paired with his great friend Luke Donald, and now Garcia has found his mojo it should prove a potent combination.
Garcia's victory will have been greeted ecstatically by captain Jose Maria Olazabal, who will also have noted Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts's tied seventh finish. Colsaerts can still make the team by right at the final qualifying event, the Johnnie Walker Championship this week, but even if he succumbs to exhaustion, the Volvo Match Play champion will surely get a wild card pick alongside Poulter to become the first Belgian to play in the Ryder Cup. Like the Englishman, he thoroughly deserves one.
Nine of the 10 automatic qualifiers are now known: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Garcia and Peter Hanson.
McGinley faces Clarke challenge
There's only one reason Darren Clarke is playing in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles this week and it is not good news for Paul McGinley.
The latter had looked odds-on favourite to be Ryder Cup captain at Gleneagles in 2014 following his brilliant stewardship of the Britain and Ireland teams in the last two Seve Trophy matches, with Clarke doing the job in America in 2016.
But Clarke's entry into this week's tournament, held on a course he has not been shy of criticising in the past, is an intriguing indication that he has changed his mind and is throwing his hat into the ring two years early.
Clarke has fences to mend among the Gleneagles hierarchy, who weren't too amused by his questioning how so mediocre a course – his verdict – got the right to stage a Ryder Cup, so bolstering a weak field can only help.
Ambition: Former Open champion Darren Clarke is targeting the Ryder Cup captaincy
Expect also a heavy slice of PR charm, with lavish praise for the changes to the Centenary Course instigated by Jack Nicklaus earlier this year and how they have made all the difference.
It is the Tournament Players' Committee who will ultimately decide between the pair in January next year and Clarke, by some distance, is the more popular and powerful figure. Where does that leave McGinley The sad fact is, if he gets overlooked on this occasion, he might not get another chance.
Quote of the week
'Rounds of golf are down five per cent in the US and one of the reasons for that is people think the game too complex and confusing. We need to simplify the rules book.'
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Well, it only took about 100 years – no, seriously – but one of the game's governing bodies has finally admitted what the rest of us have known for ever: the rules of golf are way too labyrinthine. Will United States Golf Association president Glen Nager act on his words For the good of the game – the USGA's slogan – let us hope so.
Last chance for the FedEx Cup
Is this the year when we finally learn to love the FedEx Cup One thing's for sure: if not this year, then never.
The FedEx is the series of four play-off events on the US Tour worth 5.5million each and which begin this week in New York and end in Atlanta with someone winning a bonus of 7.5million on the Sunday before the Ryder Cup begins in Chicago.
The reason for the excitement is not just the close proximity of the best team event in golf. It is the close proximity at the top of the standings of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. All season we have waited for a proper contest between the pair and we might get one with all that loot at stake.
Furthermore, all 12 Americans and three-quarters of the European Ryder Cup team will be taking part, so stay tuned for progress reports on how they're shaping up ahead of the match at Medinah.
OK, loving the FedEx is stretching it. But, at the very least, it will catch our interest.