Garcia may be rounding into form with Ryder Cup on horizon

National Sports

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP)Sergio Garcia would call it a good season if he qualifies for the Tour Championship.

One more successful round at Caves Valley could put him there.

Garcia shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday and finished the third round of the BMW Championship four strokes behind the leaders. He was tied for fourth, which is the type of showing he needed after he came into this event ranked 44th in the FedEx Cup standings.

The top 30 advance to next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake.

”The playoffs nowadays, they’re so volatile,” Garcia said. ”There’s so many changes that can happen with somebody being 105th in the FedEx Cup and having a great week and all of a sudden he jumps to 15th or 10th or something like that or even better.”

Garcia didn’t need that big a jump, but he was on the outside looking in after missing the cut at the Northern Trust last week. He has rebounded with what could end up being one of his best performances of the season.

Garcia won the Sanderson Farms Championship in October, his first victory on the PGA Tour since the 2017 Masters. He hasn’t done much since then, missing the cut at the Masters and PGA Championship. Garcia didn’t play in the Olympics, saying he wanted to focus on his chance to represent Spain as part of the European team at the Ryder Cup.

Garcia is 18th in the Ryder Cup points standings on the European side, although given his success in that event over the years, it’s reasonable to expect him on the team.

”I think that everybody knows what the Ryder Cup means to me. Everybody knows what I can bring to the team and to the week,” Garcia said earlier this week. ”But you know, resumes are resumes. At the end of the day they don’t play. They don’t play golf.”

Garcia would surely help his chances if he can show he’s rounding into form ahead of next month’s Ryder Cup. On Saturday, he was even through the first four holes, and his drive on the No. 5, a short par 4, ended up in the rough to the right of the green.

Garcia was able to get up and down, making a 13-foot putt for birdie.

”It felt like I was letting the birdie holes kind of get away from me,” he said. ”Then when I hit it a little right there on 5, I knew it was going to be a tough test. But hit a great chip, pretty much probably as good as I could do it, and rolled that putt in there beautifully, so that kind of got me going there a little bit.”

Garcia missed the green on the par-3 sixth but saved par. Then he birdied the following two holes.

A couple more birdies on the back nine left him in contention, but to win, he’ll likely need to be even better Sunday on a Caves Valley course that’s yielding plenty of low scores.

”Everyone is playing great, and you have to go out there and make a lot of birdies, and that’s all you can do,” Garcia said. ”If you’re playing well, it’s fun, obviously. But it’s not my favorite kind of golf. I like when it’s a bit more challenging and it’s not just putting.”

Next week’s conditions at East Lake may be more to Garcia’s liking – if he makes it there.

”I wouldn’t say that I judge my season just by if I make the Tour Championship or not,” he said. ”Obviously, if I make the Tour Championship, I know that I’ve had a really good season because it’s not easy to get there. I definitely look at it that way.”

Follow Noah Trister at www.twitter.com/noahtrister

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