LIV rebel Sergio Garcia must pay more than $1m to rescue Ryder Cup dream

Sergio Garcia in action during the third round of the LIV Golf Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Sergio Garcia in action during the LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico this month - Shutterstock/Alonso Cupul

Sergio Garcia’s plan to rejoin the DP World Tour and play in next year’s Ryder Cup will go unfulfilled unless he pays a backlog of fines that amount to more than $1 million.

Officials at Wentworth headquarters were baffled by Garcia’s comments in a recently released interview with Rick Shiels, the PGA professional who runs the biggest golf channel on YouTube with almost three million subscribers.

“Sergio is either in denial or he is completely oblivious to the hurdles he must clear to become a member again,” an insider said.

In the podcast, Garcia declared his intention to rejoin the Tour after resigning last year and said he would play the minimum of four events to keep his card for 2025. That would make him eligible for the Ryder Cup match in New York, where Luke Donald’s team will try to become the first away side to win in 13 years.

“I am going to be a member again of the European Tour,” Garcia said. “I always said that I wanted to, when I joined LIV, keep being a member of the DP World Tour. Obviously they didn’t make it too easy to be able to do that, [but] I want to give myself the best possibility of playing the Ryder Cup.

“Only playing a handful of events, it is not easy to make it unless you do super well. But I guess at the end of the day if I am eligible, they see I am making the effort and I do well with LIV and I am consistent then at least hopefully I can be considered, not only because of my game but what I can bring to the team, and my history in the event.”

Garcia is the Ryder Cup’s all-time leading points scorer and his adoration for the match is not in question. Telegraph Sport exclusively disclosed in the build-up to the 2023 showdown that he made a late pitch to play in Italy and offered to pay the fines he built up for playing in the LIV Golf League without an official release.

The Spaniard was told it would not be possible and was informed that to regain his playing privileges he would have to reapply and clear his debt. Garcia missed the tour’s initial Nov 19 cut-off point to submit his application and although there is a May 1 deadline extension, that is only for “exceptional circumstances”.

No doubt, these are exceptional times, but Garcia owes £893,000 in sanctions and he is the only LIV player yet to cough up the original £100,000 fine imposed after the Tour won a court hearing last April.

Sources disclosed he would also have to serve nine weeks of bans before he could play in any Tour events.

“Sergio’s statement was bizarre, seeing as he resigned when refusing to pay the first fine,” a source said. “He is probably hoping a deal is worked out in the current negotiations with PIF [the Saudi sovereign wealth fund], and there is an amnesty and a clear pathway back.

“But there is a strong feeling among the tour’s rank and file that the fines will have to be honoured first – and Sergio has only so far offered to pay if he could be considered for the Ryder Cup.

“Let’s just say that as of now his plan is unlikely and there is a stipulation that the regulations for 2024 stipulate that applications for membership can be rejected for any reason whatsoever.”

Garcia, 44, finished second at LIV’s opener in Mexico this month and tees it up in the first round in Jeddah, the league’s third tournament of the year.

The brunt of the focus at the $25 million event at Royal Greens will fall on Anthony Kim, the former American boy wonder who as a 38-year-old has not played in 12 years.

Meanwhile, on the PGA Tour in Florida, Rory McIlroy shot a first-round four-under 67 at the Cognizant Classic. It left the world No 2 three off the early pace set by American Chad Ramey.