It’s exactly 150 days (June 22nd) to the hosting of the 43rd Ryder Cup.
In this current Coronavirus uncertain world, that would seem light years away.
All we know for certain is that for the past 41 days, since the cancellation of the Players Championship, talk of now the third largest sporting event on the globe has focussed on three aspects of the USA versus European showdown:
– Ban spectators all together from Whistling Straits.
– Allow the Ryder Cup to go ahead with spectators or
– Postpone the Ryder Cup to 2021 that will allow for a full, uninterrupted qualifying season.
Whether or not there should be spectators has commandeered much of the discussion with the rival Ryder Cup captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington at least agreeing any 2020 Ryder Cup cannot take place behind closed doors.
Now World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Versailles victory hero, Tommy Fleetwood have added their ‘two cents’ worth and with the spectator question put to McIlroy clearly touching a nerve after the ugly and personal events in 2016 at Hazeltine.
“A Ryder Cup without fans, it’s not a Ryder Cup,” said McIlroy.
“For me, I’d much rather they delay it until 2021 than play it at Whistling Straits without fans.
“That’s from a European, going to America, viewpoint knowing that I’m going to get abuse.
“Obviously, it would be better for Europeans to play without fans 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. So, if it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the Ryder Cup or playing it without fans, I would say just delay it a year.”
Fleetwood won four of five matches on debut in France but he’s more for having fans though he’s yet to experience the obnoxious behaviour, as McIlroy explained, of an American Ryder Cup.
“It doesn’t seem right and it also sounds strange to play a Ryder Cup without the fans,” said Fleetwood to Golf Digest.
“It’s the fans what makes that event what it is … you talk about guys that have played the Ryder Cup and they talk about not being able to put the ball on the tee, or the feeling that they have.
“Is the pressure the same without fans? I don’t think it can be if nobody is there. That’s what makes it.
“Having sixty, seventy thousand people watching and there are only four groups on the golf course. It’s amazing, and it massively makes the Ryder Cup what it is.”
And if you were looking for good news on whether or not the Ryder Cup will be played in front of spectators or not then PGA of America’s CEO, Seth Waugh delivered that.
“It’s hard to imagine one without fans,” said Waugh.
“We have begun to talk about whether you could create some virtual fan experience, and we’re going to try to be as creative as we can. It’s [still] to be determined, frankly, whether you could hold it without fans or not.”