(Par) for the (course) – Ryder Cup postponed

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Ryder Cup postponed - July 2020 update Image: golf.de

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Ryder Cup to be postponed to 2021. The tee-off will not happen this year with the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America postponing the men’s team golf event by a year.

The biennial competition between the United States and Europe was scheduled to be held on September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It will now be held at the same venue on September 24-26, 2021.

Due to spike in coronavirus cases in the United States, it was par for the course that fans would not be able to attend the event, and the complexity of international travel in the current pandemic climate.

In April, PGA of America Chief Executive Seth Waugh hinted that the tournament could be held sans spectators. But the governing body, along with fellow organizers the European Tour, eventually nixed the proposal after pushback from a number of leading stakeholders. Ryder Cup is known for its die-hard fans in golf and the vibrant atmosphere which is created due to in-person attendance is an integral part of the event’s overall appeal.

United States captain Steve Stricker said it would be a “crime” if the Ryder Cup would be a closed door event.

“I just can’t see [the Ryder Cup] going ahead without fans,” leading European player Rory McIlroy said last month.

American Brooks Koepka added, “I don’t want to play if there are no fans. The fans make that event. The fans make that special.”

The move to 2021 will mean realignment for future Ryder Cups. Europe’s next tournament, due to be held at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, located 17 km from the center of Rome, will now take place in 2023 instead of 2022.

Earlier this week, PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament abandoned its plan to have limited spectators at next week’s event due to the rapidly changing dynamics of the coronavirus crisis, highlighting the potential problems the Ryder Cup would have faced.

“Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits,” Waugh said in a statement.

“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.” Waugh added.

“Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call. We are grateful to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and our partners at the Tour for their flexibility and generosity in the complex task of shifting the global golf calendar. As disappointing as this is, our mandate to do all we can to safeguard public health is what matters most. The spectators who supports both the US and European sides are what make the Ryder Cup such a unique and compelling event and playing without them was not a realistic option,” Waugh stated.

Franco Chimenti, President of the Italian Golf Federation, told mediapersons that the postponement gives Rome more time to prepare for the 2023 event -“We would have been ready (by 2022), and now we’ll be ready by 2023. We’re about to inaugurate the course. We don’t have problems.”

The Ryder Cup rescheduling will create some ripple effects in other parts of the overall golf calendar. The Presidents Cup, which was initially slated for September 30-October 3, 2021, at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina (US), will now be played September 19-25, 2022.

In turn, the Wells Fargo Championship will now be played at its traditional venue at Quail Hollow Club in 2021, at TPC Potomac in Maryland in 2022, and back at Quail Hollow in 2023.

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