For only the second time since World War Two, the Ryder Cup has been postponed due to concerns around spectator safety.
The tournament had been due to take place from September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It will now be pushed back to the same time frame – Sept. 24-26 – in 2021.
In a statement, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said: “As disappointing as this is, our mandate to do all we can to safeguard public health is what matters most.
“The spectators who support both the U.S. and European sides are what make the Ryder Cup such a unique and compelling event and playing without them was not a realistic option.
“It became clear that as of today, our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible. Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call.”
Although professional golf is back underway in the US without spectators, several leading players – including Rory McIlroy – have voiced their opposition to the Ryder Cup going ahead this year.
In an interview with BBC Sport, McIlroy said: “My personal hunch is that I don’t see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen.
“I think the majority of players would like to see it pushed back until 2021 so that they can play in front of crowds and have the atmosphere that makes the Ryder Cup so special.
“The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup. If they are not on board with it and don’t want to play then there is no Ryder Cup.”
However, his argument hasn’t gone down well in some quarters. We spoke to our ambassador and former Europe Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher to find out what he thinks. Here’s what he had to say…
The players’ comments
We know why Rory and Brooks Koepka don’t want to play. They want to play with crowds and feel the special atmosphere of the Ryder Cup and I understand that.
But I really didn’t like the tone of their comments. They were basically saying they’re not playing unless there are crowds. These guys should just get on with it – play golf and let the decisions be made by people who have the interests of golf associations at heart, rather than their own personal preferences. Jordan Spieth said that he would play if he was asked to play.
If it was Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in this situation, they would say ‘I’m not the one making the decisions, if it’s in the best interests of the European Tour, PGA Tour and USPGA, I’ll go along with the decision.
It’s like certain players are trying to make the decisions on behalf of these associations and I don’t like that, to be honest.
They’re great players but because they’re always in front of the press, people are waiting for them to say something controversial.
Why the Ryder Cup had to be postponed
What we’re trying to do by playing the Ryder Cup is make things as normal as we could to get past this difficult time. The Ryder Cup has become a TV spectacle – it’s made for television – and the viewing figures are great.
But I can understand why they’ve postponed it. If one of the caddies or players tested positive during the Ryder Cup, that would create a big issue because everybody who came into contact with them would have to self-isolate.
It’s not too bad on a normal week, when there’s 150 players in the field – they went ahead with the RBC Heritage even though Nick Watney proved positive. Koepka and a caddie went home, but the other players continued to play.
You can get away with it if there are more golfers. But when there are three or four on each side, or even one golfer on each side, who have to self-isolate, you can’t get away with it. That, for me, was the deciding factor.
What this decision means for the future
As Thomas Bjørn says, what if we’re in the same position next year? There’s no guarantee that won’t be the case, but we all hope it won’t be.
The European Tour now doesn’t have a 4-year financial cycle where it comes into surplus during the Ryder Cup year and then for the next 3 years it’s operating under a loss until the tournament comes back.
Now, there’s an extra year’s wait, which creates a lot of financial pressure. The people who work for the European Tour will probably have to get a loan from the bank to cover themselves. It also puts a lot of financial pressure on the PGA of America, so that is another drawback.
However, it seems that everybody’s come to an amicable arrangement. It’s a sensible decision and, ultimately, it’s the right decision.
Hopefully, when the Ryder Cup comes back, it will be bigger than ever, companies will be in a position to support the Ryder Cup and TV companies will pay a lot of money to broadcast it.
The European Tour is a strong brand and there’s no reason that, like any other big company, it can’t find a way of financing itself in the meantime.
What do you think about the decision to postpone the Ryder Cup? Let us know by tagging us on Twitter @golfcareUK.