Ryder Cup debate: Should it go ahead without fans?

By Sports Desk June 08, 2020

The Ryder Cup is one of the few sporting events in 2020 that remains on the calendar on its original date.

However, there are major doubts as to whether the contest – scheduled for September – will go ahead amid fears over coronavirus.

A decision has yet to be made, but one possibility is that Whistling Straits will play host to the competition behind closed doors.

It is a topic that has divided opinion, so should the Ryder Cup go ahead without spectators?

Stats Perform News duo Russell Greaves and Peter Hanson have their say...

 

THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON – GREAVES

Having had the privilege of attending the previous Ryder Cup, I can attest to how much value the fans add to the experience.

And the golfers themselves say as much too – the encouragement of the crowd, and maybe even the occasional jibe, can make all the difference.

Sport is not just about the technical brilliance of its stars, it is about the context in which those protagonists ply their trade and the drama that golf provides at this level is unmatched.

A golfer standing over a putt to win a point, waiting for the noise to die down, gathering his emotions as the assembled masses hold their collective breath... that's what makes this event so special.

Remove the action from that context and you have something less enthralling, less special, less meaningful. Do not devalue this great competition. The show must not go on.


THE RYDER CUP CAN OFFER POSITIVITY AMID THE GLOOM – HANSON

Let's make this abundantly clear from the start: Everyone wants fans in attendance at the Ryder Cup.

No one could coherently argue golf's most famous and spine-tingling team competition would be better with the absence of spectators. The energy, noise and usually good-natured jibing from the galleries is what makes the Ryder Cup one of the greatest spectacles in sport.

But we find ourselves living in unprecedented times. The likelihood of having members of the public through the gates at Whistling Straits diminishes by the day.

If the competition can be held safely, with every precaution taken to protect everyone involved – not just the players, then it should go ahead.

The Ryder Cup can offer positivity amid the gloom. A chance for escapism from a harsh reality, a chance for a semblance of normality, a chance for the world's best to entertain sports-starved fans watching on from the comfort of their homes. 

It is far from the ideal situation, but it is the situation we find ourselves in. The show must go on.


WHAT THE PROS SAID

"This event is made by the fans. If it was without fans, it almost would be a yawner of an event. To cheat out the Wisconsin fans would be a crime," USA captain Steve Stricker told the Golf Affect Radio Show.

"Everyone wants fans to be there, but the question is does sport need the Ryder Cup and should the Ryder Cup take one for the team? 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," Europe captain Padraig Harrington speaking to The Times.

"I get the financial implications for everyone involved but having a Ryder Cup without fans, it's not a Ryder Cup. I would much rather them delay it until 2021 to play the Ryder Cup than play it at Whistling Straits without fans," world number one Rory McIlroy said during an Instagram Live with TaylorMade.

"I personally don't want to play if there's no fans. I don't see a point in playing it," Brooks Koepka told Golf Channel.

"I'm not saying 'postpone it' if there's no fans. I want to make that team and if I do, and we have to play it behind closed doors, I'm going to embrace it 100 per cent," Ian Poulter told Sky Sports.

"A Ryder Cup without the spectators is just not a Ryder Cup. It's the one tournament of the year where we're not playing for ourselves, we're playing for Europe, we're playing for the United States, and it's for the fans," Jon Rahm told Sky Sports.

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