Europe's Ryder Cup team to face the United States at Celtic Manor will be without one of its most talismanic figures of the past decade after it was confirmed that Sergio García will stop playing competitive golf for two months.
"I haven't had a nice long break my whole career. I need to miss the game a little bit," said the Spaniard, whose decline as a top-class player was reflected in his latest world ranking of 50 — a precipitous fall for a player who less than two years ago came close to replacing Tiger Woods as the world No1.
García, who has played in the past five Ryder Cups, is planning to resume playing at the Castelló Masters in October although, speaking after the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, where he finished 22nd, he indicated he would be available to play at Celtic Manor if the Europe captain, Colin Montgomerie, gave him one of the three available "wildcard picks".
However, the Guardian understands there is almost no chance of that happening. With so many players competing for a place on the team, picking the Spaniard would be "problematic", one well-placed source said.
Of those currently outside the nine automatic slots, Justin Rose and Paul Casey are almost certain to find favour with Montgomerie. Padraig Harrington would be the third player chosen but with the Irishman running into good form — he has finished second and ninth in his last two events — it seems likely he will make the team as of right.
That would leave Montgomerie with a plethora of choices, although he might be inclined to give the final place on his team to a continental player lest he be accused of showing an "English" bias.