(Reuters) - Having endured the worst slump of his career with a three-year victory drought that ended late last season, Sergio Garcia could not be happier with his form heading into this week’s Barclays tournament in Farmingdale, New York.
The Spaniard clinched his eighth PGA Tour title by two shots at the rain-delayed Wyndham Championship in North Carolina on Monday and, with it, a coveted spot on the European team for the Sep. 28-30 Ryder Cup.
“I had a good week last week where I managed to do things fairly well,” Garcia told reporters at Bethpage State Park on Wednesday on the eve of the PGA Tour’s first FedExCup playoff event.
“I got a nice win and was able to achieve a couple of big things. Obviously I‘m playing well coming into the playoffs and, at the same time, I secured my Ryder Cup spot for Chicago which was huge for me. I‘m very excited about that.”
Former world number two Garcia won the biggest title of his career at the 2008 Players Championship but failed to claim another for three more years as he struggled with his form and motivation.
He dropped out of the world’s top 50, costing him automatic exemption for the game’s biggest events, and was ranked a lowly 78th at the start of last year before he slowly worked his back up.
Victories at the tail-end of the 2011 European Tour, at the Castello Masters and the Andalucia Masters, gave Garcia a much-needed boost and he has carried that form into 2012.
“You go through spots and through times in your career where obviously you have up and downs,” said the 32-year-old, who was once tipped to be Tiger Woods’s biggest challenger.
”When you go on those downs obviously it’s not much fun, but you kind of try to get through them. I guess that’s why we love the game so much.
“It’s a hard game but when you can do a couple of things right, it gives a lot back to you. You just kind of keep practicing, keep trying hard ... kind of wait for the right times to come around.”
The right times have certainly returned for the Spaniard who was delighted to receive a telephone call from his compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal, the European Ryder Cup captain, following his Wyndham Championship victory.
”He was one of the first to call me and congratulate me, and he was very happy for me making his job a little bit easier,“ said Garcia, who will compete in his sixth Ryder Cup. ”He’s excited to have me in the team, and he’s looking forward to it.
”He’s always called me to see how I‘m doing, even before he was Ryder Cup captain. But with the Ryder Cup coming along, he’s very concerned about me and how am I feeling ... mentally and emotionally.
“Hopefully I can ride a bit of that momentum from last week and see if we can have another good week here.”
The Barclays tournament starts on Thursday at Bethpage Black where Garcia has been grouped with Australia’s Adam Scott and South African Louis Oosthuizen for the first two rounds.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue