Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy has predicted that this year’s Ryder Cup will become the latest sporting event to hit the coronavirus scrapheap, after saying that the majority of players who will be involved want it postponed.
McIlroy has joined a growing a chorus of players, including Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari and European captain Padraig Harrington in calling for the USA vs. Europe tournament to be postponed if fans won’t be permitted to attend due to ongoing social distancing restrictions.
Whistling Straits in Wisconsin is due to host the tournament between September 25-27, but the four-time major winner says that he expects it to be pushed back by 12 months.
“My personal hunch is that I don’t see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen,” he told the BBC.
“I think the majority of players would like to see it pushed back until 2021 so that they can play in front of crowds and have the atmosphere that makes the Ryder Cup so special.
“The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup. If they are not on board with it and don’t want to play then there is no Ryder Cup. I see it being pushed back until 2021 and, honestly, I think that will be the right call.”
Competitive golf has been inactive across the globe since March 12, but recently relaxed restrictions in the United States have allowed for the return of the sport, so long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to.
President Donald Trump was among the first public figures to hit the links upon its reopening, wasting little time in dusting off his driver.
McIlroy, for his part, played in a charity skins game with Americans Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff to raise money for coronavirus relief charities, while a team of Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson against Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods last weekend drew several million television viewers.
However, from McIlroy’s perspective playing on an empty golf course doesn’t excite him.
“A Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup,” he said last month.
“It wouldn’t be a great spectacle, there’d be no atmosphere, so if it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the event or playing it without fans, I would say just delay it a year and play it in 2021.
“Obviously it would be better for the Europeans to play without fans because we wouldn’t have to deal with some of the stuff you have to put up with, but at the same time it’s not a Ryder Cup,” he added.