Thomas Bjorn has revealed he “felt sick” when omitting Rafa Cabrera Bello from his European Ryder Cup squad in favour of selecting trusted lieutenant Sergio Garcia.
Captain Bjorn named Garcia, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson as his four wild cards yesterday, completing his 12-strong Europe squad for the Paris showdown between 28-30 September.
Bjorn hailed Garcia as the man to deliver the Churchillian motivational speeches that can bind the team together and transcend individual form.
“I made ten phone calls yesterday: I called the four that made it and I called six players to let them know it wasn’t going to be this time,” said Bjorn, defending his decision to select Garcia.
“For Rafa [Cabrera Bello] it was hard to understand and tough for him to take it. That was really hard for me. When I picked up the phone I almost felt sick having to do it.
“I can only imagine what the other guy on the end of the phone felt like. That’s the tough part of being captain. That is not something I envy anyone having to do.
“I think the world of the bloke, as a player and a person. I felt like I had to go a long, long way to leave him [Garcia] out in my mind.
“I wanted him there. I needed somebody to do a Bryson Dechambeau for him not to be there. That’s how it is with Sergio.”
Bjorn’s wild card quartet flesh out a Europe squad already containing automatic qualifiers Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Francesco Molinari and Rory McIlroy.
Asked if Garcia’s recent struggles for form put him under more pressure than ever to perform, Bjorn continued: “No I don’t think so, because I know the qualities he brings to everything else.
“I believe he’s going to bring quality on the golf course, but I know what he brings outside the golf course.
“You need to make the team work, you need to make that environment correct for everybody. That’s impossible to measure, but I believe he’s going to make us all better by being there.
“He’s the one that stands up and gives the speech, he’s done that in the past. He’s the one that stands up on a Thursday night, and rallies the troops.
“He’s also the one on Saturday night when you’re four points ahead that says ‘okay, this is by no means won yet’.
“Because he knows, he’s been there. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself in the Ryder Cup, it’s also easy to believe you’ve got no chance.
“He’s been in the centre of that, at Brookline, in Medinah, he was at the centre of it last time.
“He knows the ups and downs of the Ryder Cup, and no one knows it more in the European team than Sergio Garcia.
“Sergio for me has always been a little bit younger than his age, but not any more. Now he’s a mature, strong character that knows what it takes for all of these guys to be the best.
“And he has the ability to think outside that, he has the energy. Some of them have to live in their own little box to be able to perform.
“But Sergio has more time, more energy to think about others through that week.”