CROMWELL, Conn. — All along, it was going to be the right thing to do.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the sports world, the chances of the 2020 Ryder Cup being played at all has been in peril. The chances of the biennial event taking place with spectators never was realistic.
A Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup at all. This is why, according to a report from the Guardian, the 2020 Ryder Cup, which was scheduled to be staged Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits, will be postponed until 2021.
For weeks, the most prominent players in the world — players who have had significant say in the past several Ryder Cups — have expressed strong sentiments that the event should not be played unless fans are permitted.
The PGA of America and the European Tour, the two governing bodies that run the sport’s most compelling week of golf, would not confirm the report. Phone calls by The Post to PGA of America boss Seth Waugh were not returned, and a PGA of America spokesperson later declined comment.
In this case, silence is confirmation. Same as it was when the San Francisco Chronicle broke the news last week that the PGA Championship would go on as scheduled at Harding Park but do so without spectators.
Eventually, The PGA of America got around to confirming that report this week — just as it likely will likely officially announce the postponement of the Ryder Cup in the coming days.
And it’s the right thing to do.
The PGA Tour events currently powering on without spectators the past two weeks at Colonial and Hilton Head, and now this week at the Travelers and next week in Detroit are different animals than a Ryder Cup.
A Ryder Cup simply isn’t the same event without the passion of the fans.
Look at every video highlight of the greatest moments in Ryder Cup history and those moments are intertwined with the fans and their rabid reaction.
“I want a Ryder Cup with full capacity,’’ Englishman Paul Casey said Tuesday. “I want it with screaming fans. I saw the headlines [about postponement], so if that’s confirmed by the PGA of America in the next few days or weeks or whenever it’s going to be, I fully support that. Even as a European, knowing how loud that would be for the American team, that’s what I want. We want to play a Ryder Cup in that environment, in that cauldron, and [postponing is] the right thing to do.
“I know there’s politics involved. There’s financial implications and knock-on effect to Presidents Cup [which is scheduled for 2021 and likely will be moved to 2022], but I fully support that.’’
Indeed, there are political implications that come with postponing the Ryder Cup — mostly as it involves the European Tour, which is too reliant on the revenue raised by the event. Surely, the European Tour wanted no part in postponing.
But even Europe’s star players want no part in playing a Ryder Cup without fans — even if that would help them retain the cup.
“If we can’t play with fans, I don’t think we should play this year,’’ Spaniard Jon Rahm, the No. 2 player in the world, said. “The fans make what the Ryder Cup is. I think it should be played with fans.’’
That means 2021. And finding a player who disagrees is like finding one who doesn’t mind an occasional double bogey on his scorecard.
“If players voted to have it without fans or to be able to postpone to allow for fans, they would go for postponement,’’ Jordan Spieth said. “I think everybody would vote for postponement, especially the Americans being on home soil. I would rather wait and play with fans than play without fans and force a Ryder Cup this year.’’
Patrick Reed, who acquired the nickname he cherishes, “Captain America,’’ for his Ryder Cup exploits, called the impending postponement “disappointing’’ but said he “can’t’’ imagine playing one without fans.
“You want to have that banter back and forth with the crowds,’’ Reed said. “If you’re a home team, you basically want that 12th man. If you’re the away team, you’re expecting to be going into a hostile environment.’’
Irishman Rory McIlroy, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, has been the most vocal proponent of postponement if fans were not permitted to attend.
“It wouldn’t be a great spectacle,’’ he said recently. “There’d be no atmosphere. A Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup.”
See you in 2021.
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