Sergio Garcia has until Friday to decide whether to play in the Mallorca Open later this month, knowing that non-attendance will bring one of the Ryder Cup's most storied careers to a pitifully anti-climatic end.
Europe’s regulations state that only DP World Tour members are eligible for selection and to retain his card Garcia needs to tee it up in a minimum of four events, including one in his homeland.
So far the world No 81 has played in three in 2022 and is contracted to compete in a trio of LIV Golf Series events in the next four weeks - starting on Friday in Bangkok - meaning Mallorca is his only opportunity to fulfil the criteria before the season climaxes in Dubai next month.
Garcia, the Ryder Cup's all-time leading points-scorer, has been a Tour member for 24 years and after resigning from the PGA Tour has spoken of his desire to continue on his home circuit.
However, a legal hearing in the UK in February could leave Keith Pelley, the Wentworth chief executive, free to issue indefinite bans to the rebels who joined the Saudi-funded league. In the next few days, Garcia, 42, will have to weigh up his chances of being excluded from playing for Europe anyway.
If Garcia fails to submit his name by Friday’s deadline then there is a possibility he could still turn out in Palma on a promoter’s invite, although, in the circumstances it is highly questionable that one would be forthcoming despite his fame in Spain. The same would surely apply at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November.
If Garcia was to play in Mallorca, he would be part of a field competing for a total purse of $2million, compared to the $25m prize fund up for grabs in LIV this week, with the winner, himself, walking away with $4m.
Garcia’s management company could not be reached for comment but Tour insiders suspect he could keep his options open by initially committing.
Jon Rahm, the world No 6 with whom Garcia won three out of three points at Whistling Straits last year, hopes his countryman is available. "The only regret I have about the whole LIV thing is that certain players cannot play the Ryder Cup,” he said at the Spanish Open on Tuesday. “I would like Sergio to be able to play it, but we'll see what happens.”
Two former Ryder Cup teammates, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell, are resigned to losing their playing privileges after only playing in two and one Tour events respectively, but Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Sam Horsfield have appeared in enough and will be waiting on the verdict.
If Paul Casey is to remain eligible for Luke Donald’s team he needs to apply for a medical exemption after a back injury kept him out for four months before he also jumped to LIV in a £30million deal. It is unlikely such an extension would be granted by the Tour so Casey, like McDowell and Kaymer, must realistically consider his Ryder Cup career to be over.
In an ideal world, Donald would want a world No 31 Casey and Garcia in his ranks as he attempts to deny the US their first away victory in 30 years. Donald, and his counterpart Zach Johnson, have been together for the past few days at the year-to-go celebrations in Rome and Donald expressed his belief that the match could bring the game together.
"The Ryder Cup is bigger than any individual player and it's a great way to unify everyone," Donald said. "I think it will continue to do that.”