European Ryder Cup Captain, Padraig Harrington was adamant if the scenes on the first tee two years ago in Versailles, France could not be safely recreated later this year in Wisconsin then the 2020 Ryder Cup should not go ahead.
Harrington had the support over the past few weeks of fellow former Irish-born European captains, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke plus the heavyweight backing of World No. 1 Rory McIlroy with all in agreement that the world’s third biggest sporting event should not take place given the current global COVID-19 pandemic.
The PGA of America CEO, Seth Waugh, organisers of the staging of all U.S. Ryder Cup encounters, confirmed the news that the 2020 Ryder Cup was indeed being rescheduled to 2021 meaning all future Ryder Cup’s will revert back to odd-numbered years.
“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,” said Waugh.
“It became clear that 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. Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call.”
There’s a centenary lining to the rescheduling of the Ryder Cup though as the 2026 event due to be staged at Adare Manor in Co. Limerick, will now play host to the 100th anniversary Ryder Cup from 25th to 27th September, 2027
Harrington had spoken at the end of April that the Ryder Cup could end up ‘taking one for the team’ and be played behind closed doors.
While the Dubliner no doubt hoped a return of the PGA Tour to competition in June would increase the chances of fans lining the Lake Michigan shoreline alas, he will now not lead his Europeans into battle till 24th to 26th September, 2021.
“Rescheduling the Ryder Cup was never going to be an easy decision given the many factors to take into consideration,” said Harrington.
“But I believe it is the right assessment given the unprecedented circumstances we are facing at this time.
“When you think of the Ryder Cup you think of the distinctive atmosphere generated by the spectators, such as around the first tee at Le Golf National two years ago. If that cannot be responsibly recreated at Whistling Straits in September, then it is correct that we all wait until it can be.”
Wisconsin’s finest golfing son and rival USA captain, Steve Stricker is naturally disappointed too but then he could only agree with the decision.
“While it is disappointing that The Ryder Cup won’t be played this year, the decision to reschedule is the right thing to do under the circumstances,” said Stricker.
“At the end of the day, we want to stage a Ryder Cup that will rival all other Ryder Cups in my home state of Wisconsin, and now we have the opportunity to showcase the event as it was meant to be seen.”
The rescheduling of the 2020 Ryder Cup has already seen Europe make the decision to honour the current 2020 team qualifying process that began last September but was halted on March 8th at the end of the Qatar Masters.
The qualifying process will recommence on 1st January, 2021 with World No. 1 Rory McIlroy currently lying third overall in qualifying via both the European and World Points table.
Graeme McDowell is the next best lying 10th on the World Points list.