Ryder Cup postponed until 2021, pushing Presidents Cup to '22 because of COVID-19

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The Ryder Cup will not go on as planned this year and will be postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA of America, Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA Tour announced Wednesday.

The biennial golf tournament pitting a team of American golfers against Europeans was scheduled to take place from Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

The 43rd Ryder Cup will now take place Sept. 21-26, 2021, at the same location. Beginning then, the tournament will now take place in odd years rather than even years. It’s scheduled for Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy, in 2023.

The Presidents Cup scheduled for 2021 will now take place in 2022 in a corresponding move. It was scheduled for next fall at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Decision made now due to CDC, event set-up

PGA of America CEO Seth Waughsaid in a statement that the decision was made now, more than two months before the event, due to the planning that goes into it.

“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. 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. 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.”

The state of Wisconsin and Sheboygan County could not guarantee fans would be allowed at the event.

Ryder Cup without fans?

Like other sporting events, the idea of playing the Ryder Cup without fans had been floated. But the Ryder Cup isn’t a typical golf event. The tournament alternates between European and American locations, giving one team a home-course advantage typically not experienced on the PGA Tour.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement the two events are “lifted by the spirit of the fans.”

“With the uncertainty of the current climate, we fully support the Ryder Cup’s decision to delay a year in order to ensure fans could be a part of the incredible atmosphere in Wisconsin, and the delay of this year’s Presidents Cup was the right decision in order to allow for that option. We are thankful that our global partners, our friends at Quail Hollow Club, our long-time annual title sponsor in Charlotte and all associated with the Presidents Cup and the Junior Presidents Cup have approached this change with a unified, positive spirit. We are confident the move will give us even more runway as we bring the Presidents Cup to Charlotte in 2022.”

Fans are noticeably more involved and play a significant role in the Ryder Cup experience. Playing without fans was not an appealing prospect to most.

The prospect of a Ryder Cup without fans was not an appealing one. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The prospect of a Ryder Cup without fans was not an appealing one. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Ian Woosnam: ‘It’s all about the fans’

Former European captain Ian Woosnam called the idea an “absolute disaster” in June.

“It’s all about the fans, the atmosphere, being there,” Woosnam said in a “Ryder Cup at Home Social” in June. “I can understand the corporate side of it and television, but you have to remember the players are playing for nothing, and it’s all about the players really. Everyone wants to be there.”

Rory McIlroy, who would have played for Europe’s team, issued a similar sentiment in April.

“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,” McIlroy told reporters.

And that came from a player who would have faced a hostile American crowd.

The Ryder Cup’s just not the Ryder Cup without fans, and that likely ended up playing a factor in the decision to postpone.

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