Garcia won his first start after the Ryder Cup and now leads again after an eight-under 64.

By Daniel Rapaport
November 08, 2018

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn was widely criticized for tapping Sergio Garcia as one of his four captain's picks. The criticism wasn't completely unfounded—Garcia missed the cut in all four majors this year and had missed three of his last five cuts when Bjorn made the announcement. 

Garcia wound up going 3-1-0 during Europe's 17.5-10.5 shellacking of the Americans, becoming the all-time leader in Ryder Cup points in the process. He was his usual fiery self, flagging iron shots, hyping up phis partner and screaming after making putts. The Sergio of old. 

Garcia's performance validated Bjorn's pick and made anyone who doubted Garcia's ability to perform in the Ryder Cup look silly. Sergio Garcia simply lives for the Ryder Cup; his form coming into the matches is almost irrelevant. He always finds a way to turn it around, particularly on the putting green, and year after year is one of Europe's toughest competitors.

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Judging by his recent play, it looks like Garcia got his swagger back at Le Golf National. 

In his first start after the Cup, Garcia won the weather-shortened Andalucia Masters—a tournament he hosts—by four shots. On Thursday, he shot an eight-under 64 to take the first-round lead at the Nedbank Challenge by four shots. He's in great position for back-to-back wins on the European Tour, a feat he's accomplished just once during his career. 

Is the Ryder Cup the only explanation for the sudden turnaround? Certainly not. Garcia's wife Angela gave birth to the couple's first child, Azalea—named after the iconic trees at Augusta National, where Garcia won his only major in 2017—in March. That certainly changed his sleeping habits and gave him more to think about off the course. It takes time to get used to fatherhood and balancing it with your golf duties. Perhaps now, seven months later, Garcia's sleeping schedule has returned to quazi normal and he's found a way to strike that balance. 

Garcia also made an equipment switch from Taylormade to Callaway at the beginning of the year. Often times it takes time for players to get comfortable with their new sticks and ball after a switch like that. 

Whatever other factors are in play, the timing surely suggests that the Ryder Cup played at least some role in this current hot streak. Which shouldn't be surprising, really—after all, Sergio Garcia lives for the Ryder Cup. 

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)