Golf

Rory McIlroy: Delay Ryder Cup by a year, don't hold it without fans

Northern Irish golfer would prefer a postponement of the September tourney

World No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy added his voice to the chorus of players opposed to the idea of playing this year's Ryder Cup without spectators.

With the global sporting season in chaos due to the Covid-19 pandemic, golf's administrators are running through a range of possible scenarios as they attempt to plot a path back to competition.

For organisers of the Ryder Cup, which is due to take place at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, from Sept 25-27, that has included studying whether the tournament could be played without fans.

PGA chief executive Seth Waugh revealed earlier this week that officials had looked at the possibility of creating a "virtual fan experience" for the fiercely competitive team clash between Europe and the United States.

Waugh, however, acknowledged that a Ryder Cup without spectators was "hard to imagine", noting they were an integral part of the raucous and often febrile golfing spectacle.

McIlroy, speaking during an Instagram live event for sponsor TaylorMade, said he would rather see this year's event delayed for a year than played before empty galleries.

"I have a pretty strong view on this. I get the financial implications for everyone involved - there's a lot that goes into putting on the Ryder Cup that people don't probably know or appreciate - but having a Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup," McIlroy, 30, said.

"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 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 at the same time, it's not a Ryder Cup.

"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 Ryder Cup or playing it without fans, I would say just delay it for a year and play it in 2021."

McIlroy added that a year's delay would also work in favour of the next Ryder Cup host Italy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

"If they do delay it until 2021, the next Ryder Cup is supposed to be in Italy, and we know how badly affected Italy was by coronavirus, so it gives that country an extra year to prepare for the Ryder Cup in 2023 instead of 2022," McIlroy said.

"This is only one opinion but, if we have to play the Ryder Cup behind closed doors this year, I'd rather just delay it."- AFP

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