The PGA Tour is set to resume play next week after nearly two months off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the fate of the Ryder Cup this fall is still up in the air.
The Ryder Cup, a biennial competition between the United States and Europe, is currently scheduled to take place in September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. With the coronavirus pandemic still raging in the country, the event may end up being played without fans in attendance — something U.S. captain Steve Stricker, in an appearance on “The Golf Affect Radio Show” in Wisconsin, said would be “a yawner.”
“Personally, I would hate for that to happen,” Stricker said the show, via ESPN. “I mean, this event is made by the fans. To me, if it was without fans, it would almost be a yawner of an event. The passion, I don’t know if it would be there.”
The chief executive of the European Tour, which runs the Ryder Cup with the PGA of America, said this week that the fate of the event will be decided by the end of the month. While the PGA Tour is resuming play next week, the European Tour isn’t getting started again until July.
There were more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 108,000 deaths attributed to it. Wisconsin had nearly 20,000 cases.
Stricker isn’t alone in wanting fans at the Ryder Cup. Many players from both teams have spoken out about the issue. Europe team captain Padraig Harrington thinks that if the event is held at all, it will be “diminished,” and top-ranked Rory McIlroy doesn’t see a point in even playing it if fans can’t come.
“It wouldn’t be a great spectacle. There’d be no atmosphere. So if it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the event or playing it without fans, I would say just delay it a year and play it in 2021.”
Delaying the event until by a year isn’t an unprecedented move. Both the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup were pushed back in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The next Presidents Cup — the biennial event opposite the Ryder Cup that pits the United States against the rest of the world, excluding Europe — is scheduled for next September in North Carolina, while the next Ryder Cup is set for 2022 in Rome.
“So far we’re planning it as a go, like we’re going to have it,” Stricker said, via ESPN. “But there’s some obstacles that we’re going to have to face. The confidence of the people and the corporate people. It’s going to come down to probably the safety. And who knows, right?
“They’re going to have to make a decision here probably within the two or three weeks because the buildup to put all the stands and all the corporate tents, all that kind of stuff, has to happen in June.”
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