LONDON (Reuters) – Holding this year’s Ryder Cup without spectators would be an “absolute disaster” according to former Europe player and captain Ian Woosnam.
The biennial event is scheduled to take place from Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin but fans will almost certainly be asked not to attend because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has played havoc with the golf calendar.
“For me it would be an absolute disaster,” Woosnam, who played in eight consecutive Ryder Cups and captained the team to victory in 2006, told a ‘Ryder Cup at Home Social’ on Friday alongside former European players Peter Baker and Paul Lawrie.
“It’s all about the fans, the atmosphere, being there. I can understand the corporate side of it and television but you have to remember the players are playing for nothing and it’s all about the players really. Everyone wants to be there.”
Baker played in just one Ryder Cup, in 1993, and believes not having the experience of the huge, partisan crowds would be a shame.
“That’s such a big part of it,” he said. “I know it’s great to see live golf on the TV. Hopefully they can sort something out so they can play it the following year, which I know is really difficult. Or they can get some fans in this time.”
Former Open champion Lawrie said finances could dictate that it goes ahead without fans.
“It would be a shame because having experienced it, it’s an amazing atmosphere. It’s so loud you can’t even hear your caddie speaking to you. I think they are getting close to having to make a decision.”
Reports have said the PGA of America and the European Tour will decide this month if the event will go ahead.
World number one Rory McIlroy has said he thought the event is unlikely to take place this year and that postponing it would be the right call.
More than 121,000 people have died in the United States due to COVID-19.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)