European captain Padraig Harrington says a Ryder Cup behind closed doors is being discussed as they wait to see how the first PGA Tour events pan out after the lockdown

Playing the Ryder Cup without fans will not be in the best interests of the competition, but it might need to “take one for the team”. That’s according to European captain Padraig Harrington.

The debate has raged on social media for weeks since it was first suggested the Ryder Cup might go ahead behind closed doors, with Europe’s talisman Rory McIlroy even getting involved.

But speaking to the Times, Harrington explained that while “everyone wants fans to be there, the question is does sport need the Ryder Cup?”

He added: “Should the Ryder Cup take one for the team? Would it be for the greater good of sport?

“It wouldn’t be in the Ryder Cup’s best interests but it could be in the best interests of enough people who want to see a big sporting occasion on TV.”

It’s a huge change of tact from Harrington, who said in early April that “the common consensus now is the Ryder Cup will not be played unless the fans are there”.

At the time of writing, the PGA Tour is due to return in June with the first four tournaments played in front of empty galleries, while the European Tour has postponed or cancelled all events up to the British Masters at the end of July.

And Harrington says the PGA of America and European Tour will make a decision on the Ryder Cup if and when those events go ahead.

“If those PGA Tour events go well behind closed doors then we’re far more likely to see a Ryder Cup as normal,” the three-time major champion explained.

“It massively increases the odds of being with fans because by September we may have moved on.

“I assume there’s no chance of a vaccine [by September] so we’re looking at how well contained it is by then and how treatable it is.”

The Ryder Cup is due to start on September 25 at Whistling Straits.

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