Ryder Cup 2018: Can eyebrow-raising Garcia selection pay off?

Sergio Garcia is a Ryder Cup selection that will raise the eyebrows of many, but is it one that could pay off for Thomas Bjorn and Europe.

Sergio Garcia has struggled in 2018   -  Getty Images

Thomas Bjorn plumped for experience with his Ryder Cup captain's picks, though his selection of Sergio Garcia will raise more eyebrows than it would have done last year.

Garcia, having ended his wait for a major with victory at the Masters last year, has suffered an alarming slump in form in 2018.

Yet, his record in the Ryder Cup makes him one of the most successful players to represent Europe, with his experience in the match play pressure cauldron offering obvious benefits to a team with five rookies.

But, will his presence in the team help Europe regain the cup, or will his disappointing run continue and doom a team that most accept is well below the United States in terms of pure talent?

READ: Ryder Cup 2018: Contenders for Jim Furyk's final captain's pick

THE SLUMP

Garcia was on top of the golfing world after his emotional victory at Augusta in which he overcame Justin Rose in a play-off.

Little success followed in 2017 after his green-jacket winning performance, but he still missed only two cuts in the entire year.

His 2018 has paled by comparison. Garcia has missed the cut in his last five majors - his Masters defence doomed as he found the water five times at the 15th to card a 13 - and has failed to make the weekend seven times in total this season.

The saving grace for Garcia is that Le Golf National will play host to the Ryder Cup this year, a course where the Spaniard has recorded one of his five top-10 finishes in 2018, and he has consistently proven himself a different animal in this competition.

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THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR

It could be argued that nobody knows the Ryder Cup better than Garcia, who has made eight appearances on a stage he appears to relish.

He has tasted victory on five occasions and his 22.5 since his debut in 1999 put him three short of surpassing Nick Faldo for the most points in Europe's Ryder Cup history.

Whether Garcia is able to rediscover the form that has made him an ultra-reliable match play option will obviously have an impact on Europe's hopes of regaining the cup.

But, what could be even more crucial is how he uses his vast experience of the competition to help the five new boys cope with the highs and lows of what is always an emotionally charged event.

Unsurprisingly, the affable Garcia is fully prepared to assist the rookies in that challenge, telling Sky Sports: "I'm going to give everything I have - not only on the golf course, but in the team room. Hopefully, that helps us to get our goal, which is to win the Ryder Cup again."

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WILL IT WORK?

Garcia is undoubtedly the riskiest proposition of the quartet of picks Bjorn announced, as Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson all head into the tournament in much better form.

Given Garcia's slump, it is a selection that would appear much more of a gamble were this year's event in America. Putting a player in poor form up against not only the USA's finest golfers, but also the intimidating atmosphere experienced at Hazeltine two years ago would be a recipe for disaster. But, at a course he knows and has played well at, where the crowd will be firmly on his side, the risk is mitigated.

From the miracle at Medinah, to a plethora of major near-misses, Garcia is a man that has seen everything golf has to offer, and the perspective he can provide as a result of his various trials and tribulations in golf figures to be invaluable to those contending with the Ryder Cup for the first time.

And, until recently, Garcia is a golfer who has been able to regularly excel regardless of the misfortune that has befallen him. Now, he heads to play a tournament he has great affection for and in which he has had great success in a friendly environment. His inclusion merits bemusement, yet the ingredients are there for it to lift Garcia out of his slump and Europe to a fourth win in five tournaments.