Rory McIlroy has backed calls to postpone the Ryder Cup if it turns out it won't be safe to have fans in attendance. Two of our writers discuss

Rory McIlroy says he would rather the Ryder Cup was delayed if it isn’t possible to hold it with fans present in September.

The biennial matches between Europe and the USA are currently on course to go ahead at Whistling Straits at the end of September after the PGA Tour and European Tour announced plans to resume later in the summer.

But with the coronavirus pandemic still raging on both sides of the Atlantic, there is no guarantee that sporting events will be allowed to go ahead with large crowds at any point.

McIlroy, speaking on an Instagram Live Q&A for TaylorMade, said: “There’s a lot that goes into putting on the Ryder Cup that people don’t appreciate, but having a Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup.

“I would much rather they delay it until 2021 than play it at Whistling Straits without fans. And that’s from a European going to America, knowing that I’m going to get abuse!

“Obviously it would be better for the Europeans to play without fans because we wouldn’t have to deal with some of the stuff that you have to put up with.

“[But] it wouldn’t be a great spectacle. There would be no atmosphere. So 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 and play it in 2021.”

He added: “If they do delay it until 2021, the next Ryder Cup’s in Italy, and we know how badly Italy was affected by coronavirus, so it gives them an extra year to prepare for the Ryder Cup in 2023.”

So is McIlroy right? Should they delay the Ryder Cup if the fans can’t attend? Here’s what two of writers had to say…

‘It’s spectators who have made the Ryder Cup what it is today’

It cost me the thick end of a grand to get to the final day at Le Golf National two years ago, writes Steve Carroll.

But there are no regrets. It was quite simply the most amazing day I’ve ever had on a golf course.

Was it that Europe won? Definitely. Was it the glorious play? Well, it didn’t hurt.

What really made it, though, was the spectacle – the noise that reverberated around the course every time a pressure putt dropped.

Who can forget that Thunderclap on the 1st tee? It wasn’t just the stands that rocked. The ground anywhere near that giant structure shook with each slap.

It’s spectators who have made the Ryder Cup what it is today – who have taken it from an afterthought into one of sport’s most anticipated team events.

Rory’s got this spot on. No people, no passion, no point.

‘We can’t guarantee that the Ryder Cup can go ahead with fans next year’

I completely agree with what both McIlroy and Steve have to say, writes Alex Perry.

I’ve written on this very website that I believe it’s best if the Ryder Cup gets pushed back a year. It’s one less headache for the authorities in what is already a really testing time. And it will only get tougher.

But I think we are all – and I include myself in this – being a bit naive if we just assume we’re going to be in a position to even play the Ryder Cup with fans in 2021.

Now I’m not saying let’s just cancel all sport until we’re allowed to gather in large crowds again, but if – and it’s not that big an if – we still cannot play it with fans next year then what? We just keep pushing it back until we can?

I suspect most golf fans would rather it went ahead this year even if it meant no fans. After all, it is only a relatively small amount of people that would actually be in attendance at Whistling Straits when compared to the tens of millions who would be watching from the comfort of their sofa.

And that’s before we even get into the financial implication to the European Tour should it not go ahead. But that’s for another day…

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Alex Perry


Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

Handicap: 14

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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