Can defending champion Sergio Garcia ride the Ryder Cup wave at the Sanderson Farms Championship?

The Spaniard has a superb record in his first start after representing Europe in the biennial clash.

Ryder Cup competitors are a bit like wedding guests the morning after the night before.

Some of them will be found attacking the sausage and bacon in the breakfast room like hunter-gatherers; others will be slumped in the car park and effectively useless at work for the best part of a fortnight.

Sergio Garcia is the type to boast a strong constitution - of the golfing kind, at least.

That's the conclusion to be drawn by his results straight after his nine appearances for Europe in the match.

In reverse order, they read:

2018 (after two weeks off) - winner of the Andalucia Masters

2016 (two weeks off) - T17th at the CIMB Classic

2014 (four weeks off) - second at the CIMB Classic

2012 (eight weeks off) - T9th at the DP World Tour Championship

2008 (no break) - second at the TOUR Championship

2006 (no break) - T32nd at the WGC American Express Championship

2004 (one week off) - fourth at the WGC American Express Championship

2002 (one week off) - fifth at the Lancome Trophy

1999 (no break) - winner of the German Masters

In summary, that pretty darn good. Nine starts, all of them T32nd or better with seven top 10 finishes, six of them top five finishes, two of those wins.

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Garcia off a strong Ryder Cup performance

Between 1999 and 2006 Garcia always contributed at least three points. He then went four starts never reaching that number before totalling three again in 2018.

What's the split between the good weeks and the average ones (he's never been genuinely poor at any of them)?

After the good Ryder Cups (1999-2006 and 2018): two wins, fourth, fifth and T32nd.

After the average ones (2008-2016): two seconds, T9th and T17th.

Last week he once more scored three points - can he ride the wave again?

Those results are quite persuasive on their own, but this week he not only plays the Sanderson Farms Championship, he's also the defending champion.

Garcia at the Country Club of Jackson

Intriguingly, when he made his debut at the track last year, he even referenced its position in the schedule.

"It should have been the Ryder Cup last week," he said. Maybe we can count it as a phantom post-Ryder Cup win?!?!

More realistically, he just loved the test.

"The great thing for me is that when I'm feeling it, I don't feel like I even have to putt too well to have a chance at winning," he said, having praised the set-up. "With an average or just above average kind of putting week, if I'm playing the way I played this week, I can give myself a chance of winning almost every week. My long game, it's always been a strength, and everyone knows that, that's what I rely on."

He was bang on. He ranked first for Strokes Gained Off the Tee and third for Approach, leading to another ranking of first for Tee to Green. Emboldened, he put in his second best performance on the greens in the last two calendar years.

So, Garcia likes playing after a Ryder Cup, he likes the course and guess what? He just loves playing golf at this time of year, too.

Garcia in October

He's made 43 starts in the 10th month of the year, logging 32 top 20s, 25 of those top 10s, turning 20 of them into top fives.

But the most staggering tallies are his 13 top three finishes (30%) and eight wins (19%).

He's also had one solo and three shared first round leads in 40 strokeplay starts in the month, with another 13 top six places.

It all makes the following prices well worth taking seriously.

Garcia after a Ryder Cup in America

A final thought: is the following mere coincidence?

Four months after the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic.

In late 2012 he won the Johor Open.

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Shortly after the 2008 Ryder Cup he won the Castello Masters and also the HSBC Champions.

He was a winner of the Mallorca Classic a couple of weeks after the 2004 Ryder Cup.

And we've already seen that he claimed victory on his first start after the 1999 Ryder Cup.

In other words, he's won within four months of every Ryder Cup he has played away from home.

And he's done that just once after his four home starts.

It's probably fluke, but maybe keep an eye on him until the 2022 Desert Swing even if he doesn't lift the trophy this week.

READ MORE: Home of Golf under the Hammer? Horschel chases European Tour double: Dunhill Links punter pointers

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