• Alistair Tait

Common sense prevails in Ryder Cup decision


Admit it: you’re shocked the Ryder Cup has been postponed until 2021.

Not.

We can be forgiven for asking ourselves a simple question: what took them so long?

After all the talk of a virtual Ryder Cup and taking one for the team by playing the match behind closed doors for just once, the PGA of America, PGA Tour and European Tour finally arrived at the correct decision and postponed golf’s greatest team match until next year.

Again, what took them so long?

A Ryder Cup without fans was never going to happen. Jamie Corrigan, The Daily Telegraph’s excellent golf correspondent, predicted that months ago. It took so long for officials to actually confirm Jamie’s story it almost seemed they were intent on staging this year’s match just to prove him wrong.

I feel for PGA of America boss Seth Waugh. He attended the 2018 match in France literally days after taking the job, and admitted to being blown away by the atmosphere on the first tee at Le Golf National. He was looking forward to staging this year’s match, and bent over backwards to try to get it done. He said:

“It was a very tough decision. I think people think this might be easier than it is, but frankly since the speculation started a couple months ago in the press and elsewhere that Ryder Cup would be postponed, we've kind of done everything we could to make it one of those kind of Dewey-beats-Truman headlines.”

Guy Kinnings, the European Tour’s Ryder Cup director, said:

“The announcement is also good for the brand of the Ryder Cup as a whole, as it allows us to plan the match to be played in front of a full house in September'21, creating that wonderful atmosphere that Seth described that he saw in Paris that makes the Ryder Cup the envy of many around the world.”

Common sense doesn’t always come into play in this royal and ancient game, but it has in this instance. After all, players, former captains and even current U.S. skipper Steve Stricker all went on record to say holding the match without fans would have been utterly pointless.

No matter how much we deplore the few idiots who turn up and at times spoil the spectacle for everyone else, a fan-less Ryder Cup would have been completely soulless. If you think watching two Premier League sides fight it out to a 0-0 in draw in an empty stadium is a tough watch, then imagine what a Ryder Cup without fans would have been like. It would have lived up to Rory McIlroy’s once mistaken description of Samuel Ryder’s legacy: it would have been just an exhibition.

Pick your own metaphor: it would have been like Butch without Sundance, Torvill without Dean, malt whisky without a wee splash of water, or even Seve without Ollie.

The powers that be have made the correct decision, but was there really another one to be made?

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