VALHALLA // Sergio Garcia signed off from the last Ryder Cup with the words: "There's nothing sweeter than beating the Americans." If he had won either last year's British Open or last month's US PGA instead of being pipped by Padraig Harrington he might have found something better. But he did not and so now the 28-year-old Spaniard aims to inflict further pain on a nation facing the distinct possibility of a fourth successive defeat at the hands of Europe.
Garcia, still waiting for his first major title, and Lee Westwood have become the main thorns in American sides and since they practised together yesterday speculation is mounting captain Nick Faldo will put them out first on Friday. The United States captain Paul Azinger says: "Obviously Sergio is one of the most passionate players that Europe has ever had. He's along the lines of a Seve [Ballesteros] or [Colin] Montgomerie or Darren Clarke. There's a lot of passion - I just feel like he elevates somehow.
"He putts different. He putts better. I don't know - ask him why he makes so many putts." Faldo is thrilled to have the Spaniard in his line-up, not just because of how he has played in past matches, but because of how he has played this season. "Sergio has really changed this year," he commented. "He has so much more patience. I believe he's recognised that the more patient he stays the better his performance is.
"But this week passion really comes into it and he brings a lot of it to the team. "When you see Sergio you see Seve. They love this event. Obviously matchplay is different and he gets fired up. And he's great off the golf course. He is a key member to the team." * PA Sport