Sergio Garcia insists that he has proved his Ryder Cup qualities “over and over”, after being handed a wildcard pick by European captain Thomas Bjorn.
The Spaniard has won 22.5 points in the biennial matches since making his debut as a teenager in 1999, but struggled for form this year and has slipped from inside the world’s top 10 to 28th in the rankings.
His effort of tied-seventh at last weekend’s Portugal Masters was his first top-10 finish since July, although that did come at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National in the French Open.
“I think that I’ve proved myself over and over,” Garcia said.
“The only thing I can do out there is when I get called upon playing, just do my best, do what I do, do what I’ve always done here at Ryder Cups, and that’s everything.”
Bjorn has described Garcia, a five-time Ryder Cup winner, as an “integral part” of the European team room, while Rory McIlroy said he is crucial to the side.
“I think just everyone loves Sergio. At least in our team room,” said the Northern Irishman.
“He has been the heartbeat of our team for a while, and he has been a constant.”
Garcia admitted that he feels he has a special role in the European set-up and that it was an important reason in him being selected ahead of the likes of his compatriot Rafa Cabrera Bello, Hazeltine Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters and the in-form Matt Wallace.
“I think I do, yes. I think I do from experience, from the way I am, from the way I enjoy team events, the way I enjoy the Ryder Cup,” said the 38-year-old.
“Yeah, I think that probably, to be totally honest, is one of the reasons why the vice-captains and the captain decided to have me on the team, not only for what I can bring on the golf course, but what I can bring outside.”
Garcia finally landed a long-awaited maiden major title at last year’s Masters, but his miserable defence of the title at Augusta National in April kicked off a run that saw him miss seven cuts in 11 tournaments.
Having previously been a shoo-in for the team, he knew that he was far from guaranteed a pick from Bjorn.
“When things don’t go exactly as you plan or as you want it, and you are playing a lot in the summer and you keep missing cuts by one; it feels like it’s kind of getting a little farther away,” he added.
“I talked to Thomas, and I told him, I said, ‘you know what, I want to be a part of the team. Obviously, I’m not going to lie to you. But if you guys decide to not pick me, I’m going to be at home cheering as hard as if I was there’.
“So it’s not like I’m going to be like, ‘oh, didn’t pick me, I don’t even want to watch it or I don’t care’. That doesn’t change for me and that will never change. But I’m definitely glad to be here and to be a part of it.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)