'Very strong chance' Irish Open could be played without mass gathering of spectators - McGinley

Paul McGinley
Paul McGinley was the Ryder Cup captain in 2014

Paul McGinley has said there is a "very strong chance" that this year's Irish Open could be played behind closed doors if it does go ahead.

The tournament, scheduled to take place at Mount Juliet Estate from 28-31 May, was postponed last month because of the coronavirus crisis.

It is understood that a possible autumn date is being considered for the potential rescheduling of the event.

"It's a shame as we had a really great field lined up," he told RTE Radio 1.

"I think we all need to get our heads round the fact that, when we do get out the other side of this virus, it's very unlikely that the Irish government will allow mass gatherings at any sporting event.

"So if the Irish Open is to go on at Mount Juliet later in the year, I think there is a very strong chance it will be without a mass gathering. That would be a very eerie place."

The Irish Open was set to be the Tour's second Rolex Series event of 2020 and was to be hosted by Graeme McDowell, with Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and defending champion Jon Rahm confirmed to take part.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy was lined up to play in this year's Irish Open

Looking ahead to this year's Ryder Cup, scheduled to be held at Whistling Straits in September, the former Europe captain said it is still too early to predict if it can go ahead.

"In order to build the infrastructure, it usually takes about four months, so there's time yet before they need to start cancelling anything," he added.

"The big unknown, and this is where we need some guidance from governments, is what is going to be the likelihood of allowing corporates and 40 or 50,000 spectators on to a golf course?

"If they are not going to be allowed, then we can go right up until August before a decision needs to be be made.

"In terms of putting a team together, that's the easy bit. The players will be practicing, a lot of them live in Florida and are able to play on a lot of the courses there. They are not being isolated to the extent we are here in Europe."

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