DUBLIN, Ohio – No one loves the Ryder Cup more than Sergio Garcia.
The Spaniard has been Europe’s heart and soul since he electrified the biennial tussle with the U.S. as a 19-year-old teenager in 1999. Since then, the Ryder Cup weeks have been his favorite of the given year, the event that stirs him more than any other. And he’s delivered on one of the game’s biggest stages as part of six winning teams in nine opportunities.
Despite all his passion for the Ryder Cup and his desire to play in this year’s bout at Whistling Straits along the Lake Michigan shores of Wisconsin, Garcia whole heartedly agreed with Wednesday’s decision to postpone the 2020 Ryder Cup to next year because of the COVID global pandemic.
“It’s a shame,” Garcia said in a phone call with Golfweek. “It’s obviously disappointing, but at the same time, it’s obviously understandable. There are some things that are more important than Ryder Cups.
“You have to respect this decision. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world and you have to settle everything down or you’re putting more people at risk. And a Ryder Cup without crowds is not a Ryder Cup. And a Ryder Cup with fans would potentially create a dangerous spike.”
Garcia’s take was universal.
“I certainly think it’s the right decision,” Luke Donald told Golfweek. The Englishman has never been on a losing team in five editions of the Ryder Cup and will be one of Padraig Harrington’s vice captains in 2021. That is, if he doesn’t play his way onto the team.
“I think the PGA of America looked at a lot of different options to try and make it happen, from a smaller number of fans, maybe 10,000, which still would have felt decent with only so many matches on the golf course,” Donald went on. “But I just don’t think they had any assurance they could pull that off. These are very uncertain times at the moment. And the Ryder Cup needs the energy, the crowds, to make it what it is. Ryder Cup’s deserve that energy.
“It would be so out of character for the Ryder Cup to play without fans.”
At Muirfield Village ahead of Thursday’s start of the Workday Charity Open, world No. 2 Jon Rahm, who was on the victorious European squad in 2018 in Paris, expected postponement was coming.
“I’m not that disappointed, because I’ve said it right away, when the quarantine and the whole outbreak started, if you can’t play the Ryder Cup with fans, I don’t want to play,” he said. “It’s not the Ryder Cup, it’s something else.
“So I believe the Ryder Cup being as big of an event as it is, being one of the biggest sporting events in the world, being such a big influence in the community of golf and hopefully making golf reach to different people and getting new players in the game, it’s important that it’s done the way that it’s supposed to be done. I think the venue deserves it, and both the European Tour and the PGA of America deserve to have the Ryder Cup run the way it’s supposed to be.
“And the fans deserve it.”
Justin Rose, who has played in the Ryder Cup five times, did envision seeing the matches played without spectators. But it just didn’t look right.
“I think for the Ryder Cup the fans do make that tournament,” he said at Muirfield Village. “I wasn’t against playing without fans just based on the fact that I still think there could have been a lot of intensity between the players, but the Ryder Cup is about the crowd.
“It’s the right call. As a European I think it would have been an advantage clearly to have played with no crowd, but I think it’s not about that, right. The Ryder Cup isn’t about that. I think it’s about a spectacle and I think the Ryder Cup is actually one of the events that we do have that’s bigger than the game of golf, attracts sports fans, so therefore I think it’s important to do it the right way.”