One of golf's premier events, the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits has officially been pushed to 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic for health and safety concerns along with the likelihood that fans would have been unable to attend the biennial battle between the United States and Europe.
The PGA of America, Ryder Cup of Europe and PGA Tour jointly announced Wednesday that the Ryder Cup -- originally scheduled for Sept. 22-27, 2020, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin -- will now be held at the same venue on Sept. 21-26, 2021. Subsequently, the Presidents Cup will be hosted as planned at Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina but will now be played on Sept. 19-25, 2022.
"Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits," said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh in a statement. "It became clear that as of today, our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible. Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call. ...
"As disappointing as this is, our mandate to do all we can to safeguard public health is what matters most. The spectators who support both the U.S. and European sides are what make the Ryder Cup such a unique and compelling event and playing without them was not a realistic option. ... We look forward to delivering the Ryder Cup's renowned pageantry, emotion and competitive drama to a global audience in 2021."
Ryder Cup qualifying for both the United States and European teams will be revisited with selection processes potentially changing ahead of the 2021 event.
With the Ryder Cup now officially moved to 2021, subsequent Ryder Cups will now be played on odd years to maintain a two-year distance between the events. The 2023 event will be held at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome with the Ryder Cup returning to the United States in 2025 at Bethpage Black in New York.
There was previously speculation that the event could be played in back-to-back years so that the European Tour, which realizes a lot of its revenue from this event, could stay on a more consistent cycle.
"These two premier international team events are lifted by the spirit of the fans. With the uncertainty of the current climate, we fully support the Ryder Cup's decision to delay a year in order to ensure fans could be a part of the incredible atmosphere in Wisconsin, and the delay of this year's Presidents Cup was the right decision in order to allow for that option," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
Golfers across the globe had been asked whether the Ryder Cup should be played if fans were not permitted to attend, and they roundly rejected the notion considering spectators play such a large role in the atmosphere of the event. Many were insistent that it would be ridiculous to hold a Ryder Cup under such conditions.
"[It's] not a Ryder Cup [without fans]. That's from a European, going to America, knowing that I'm going to get abuse," Rory McIlroy said in April. "Obviously, it would be better for Europeans to play without fans because we wouldn't deal with some of the stuff that you have to put up with, but at the same time, it wouldn't be a great spectacle. There would be no atmosphere. So if it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the Ryder Cup of playing it without fans, I would say just delay it a year."
"A Ryder Cup with no fans is not a Ryder Cup," Waugh said later Wednesday.
The last time the Ryder Cup was bumped a year was in 2001 after the bombing on the World Trade Center in New York. That Ryder Cup was slated to be played later in September of 2001 at The Belfry but was instead pushed 12 months. In that instance, the players and captains that had already been selected for 2001 were kept for 2002. At this point, it remains unknown how qualification will move forward for 2021.