Victorious 2014 European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is on the same page as 2020 Captain and fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington when it comes to the upcoming staging of the event.
Despite plenty of talk of moving the hosting of the 43rd Ryder Cup to 2021, McGinley believes all efforts, depending on the weakening of the COVID-19 fears, should be made to stage the event this year.
“It’s too early to say, it all depends when the start date for golf is,” said McGinley to NCG magazine.
“If there is any way of playing it in September or October then I would be inclined to go ahead.
“Even if we do start back playing in September then the first stages from governments will be that there are no large gatherings of crowds so even in October there is a strong chance that it would be behind closed doors.
“Who knows what that would be like? The atmosphere would obviously be punctured. It would certainly help the Europeans, playing away from home, if you don’t have the crowds roaring against you that is a big advantage.
“It wouldn’t have the same edge but it’s all kind of hearsay for now. We need clarity when we know when we can resume sport and, when we do, on what terms that is.”
McGinley is a key member also of the European Tour Board of Directors while he’s also one of the more-qualified analysts working for SKY Sports and when he speaks many listen.
And while the world is in virtual lock-down mode there have been many phone conference calls behind the scenes among all the bodies, both in the men’s game and the women’s game, in striving to sort out the many scenarios should play resume later this year.
“We’re all working behind the scenes and all I can say is that we have a lot of different scenarios talked about but nothing firmed up as we have no idea whether golf will even return this year,” he said.
“We will do everything we can to get it played but if it has to be next year then we’ve done that before.
“The way the Ryder Cup is structured you make the most money when you’re on home soil, you don’t make nearly as much when you’re playing away, so it’s not going to massively affect our cash flow on the European Tour but we’ll be doing everything we can to get it played.”
And in speaking to NCG, McGinley was asked to reflect on the events of 9/11 that saw the hosting of the 2001 Ryder Cup, that was due to take place three weeks after the terrorist attacks, pushed back a year to 2002.
McGinley had qualified automatically in seventh place and was among three rookies in Sam Torrance’s side and in qualifying McGinley had won the rain-shortened Wales Open and also made the cut in both The Open and the PGA Championship.
“It was very difficult because I lost my form,” he explained.
“I went from fifth to sixth on the money list in 2001 and in the next 12 months my form dropped off, I drifted to about 40th and was struggling, my game wasn’t in the same place, and now I was going into a debut Ryder Cup.
“For those of us who had lost our form – Lee Westwood, Phillip Price, Pierre Fulke, Jesper Parnevik – it was pretty daunting so it was a fantastic one to win.
“Though it made Sam Torrance’s job easier as we had our places confirmed and he could work out his permutations and start communicating with 12 players rather than a bigger squad. He had a lot of time to spend with the players and get his ideas across.
“That won’t be the case this time around as, if we do have to defer it, then it’s highly unlikely that the team will be confirmed and qualification will continue through next year.”
And when that 2002 Ryder Cup eventually got under way it was McGinley who wrote his name in the the history books in holing the winning putt in an eventual three-point success over the Americans.