THE Ryder Cup has been postponed until next year.
Golf’s biggest event was due to take place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, US, from September 25-27.
But a delay has always looked likely since the coronavirus pandemic erupted.
And now it will be held on September 24-26 next year.
The organisers – the European Tour and the PGA of America – have been clinging to the hope that it could go ahead behind closed doors, just like the first five events on the PGA Tour’s reboot.
But PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said it was “clear” that doctors and public officials “could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators would be possible”.
The world’s top players, led by Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka – both four-time Major champions – have argued that it would be pointless staging it without fans.
Koepka even threatened to boycott the event if spectators were barred, while McIlroy called for a postponement on several occasions.
It wouldn’t be a great spectacle. There would be no atmosphere
The world No 1 commented: “A Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup. If it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the Ryder Cup of playing it without fans, I would say just delay it a year.
“And that’s from a European, playing in America, knowing that I’m going to get abuse.
“Obviously it would be better for Europeans to play without fans in one way, because we wouldn’t deal with some of the stuff that you have to put up with.
“But at the same time, it wouldn’t be a great spectacle. There would be no atmosphere.”
Koepka was even more scathing about the possibility of a fan-free Ryder Cup.
He said: “I personally don’t want to play if there’s no fans. I don’t see a point in playing it.”
The Ryder Cup has been delayed once before – in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities in September 2001. It went ahead a year later, and has been played in even-numbered years ever since.
One benefit of a permanent switch back to the odd numbered years is that Europe would host the event when it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2027.
Rome will host the next Ryder Cup in Europe in 2023.
The Ryder Cup usually attracts around 50,000 spectators a day.
Pushing the event back to next September could allow a return to those crowds – although there are no guarantees everything will be back to normal by then.
At least the organisers have given themselves some breathing space.
But the 2021 Ryder Cup will have to take its place in a crowded 2021 schedule that also includes the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and the Presidents Cup – which has also been knocked back a year.