Former European Ryder Cup winning Captain Paul McGinley insists that the PGA Tour’s June 11th date to resume competition with the Charles Schwab Challenge is achievable despite ongoing uncertainty worldwide around COVID-19.
Writing in his SkySports column, the pro turned pundit, who was widely praised for his own organisational skills when plotting Europe’s path to victory over Tom Watson’s USA at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, believes that with the right precautions, and a wider acceptance that play behind closed doors must be the new normal for now, golf can return to our screens this summer.
“The PGA Tour have scheduled four tournaments, starting in June, to be played without spectators,” said McGinley.
“They will be most fortunate to have access to several hundred thousand testing kits ahead of these events. Combined with quarantining, social distancing and restrictions allowing selected key personnel on site, I actually think they may well be able to pull this off.
“It will take a lot of work and careful monitoring but is achievable if everyone involved accepts and abides by the measures that will be essential to create a safe environment for players, caddies and officials.
“Alongside our becoming acquainted with watching other sports played behind closed doors and, assuming that this is successful, a “new norm” for watching sport will likely be created. We will be able to visually enjoy our sports again through TV coverage, with no spectators; a welcome return to our enjoyment of sport from our sofas, albeit not like we are used to.”
Like many of us, McGinley has been witness to a major pushback from players and fans alike in recent weeks at the prospect of a Ryder Cup without fans. Both Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood believe the biennial event simply wouldn’t be the same without the bipartisan atmosphere and should be pushed to 2021 if necessary.
However, the Dubliner insists that people need to accept that not much will be the same as golf (hopefully) returns to our screens in the coming weeks, at least until the world gets a handle on a pandemic that has brought it to a collective standstill since March.
“The recent talk of playing without spectators has been mainly around the staging of the Ryder Cup in September,” McGinley added.
“The proposed restrictions envisage the exclusion of crowds extending to all the major golf championships, including the Masters, as well as to other sports including football and the English Premier League.
“Take football as an example. In all probability Liverpool, having dominated the season, will be crowned Premier League champions. They deserve to be lifting that trophy in front of a packed and jubilant Anfield, saluting their adoring fans on the Kop and enjoying the experience of a first league title in 30 years.
“But, being honest, we are unlikely to see those scenes this year. Even if they do manage to finish the season, it is likely that the trophy will be lifted in front of an empty Kop. Nonetheless we could still witness this ‘iconic moment’ through TV. Not ideal, but memorable and still enjoyable unless, of course, you happen to be an Everton or a Manchester United fan!”