2020 Ryder Cup postponed until 2021 because of impact of coronavirus

Europe celebrate winning 2018 Ryder Cup
Europe are the current holders of the Ryder Cup after beating the US in the 2018 match at Le Golf National in France

The 2020 Ryder Cup has been postponed for a year because the coronavirus pandemic means the event cannot be staged safely with spectators present.

The match between the United States and Europe was due to be held at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin on 25-27 September.

But the biennial event has now been rescheduled for 24-26 September 2021.

"The spectators make it a unique and compelling event and playing without them was not a realistic option," said PGA of America chief Seth Waugh.

"It became clear that 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."

Professional men's golf in the US has resumed behind closed doors but players have said the Ryder Cup should not go ahead without fans.

The women's Solheim Cup is scheduled to take place from 4-6 September, 2021 in Ohio and LPGA commissioner Mike Whan has told BBC Sport that the Ryder Cup decision does not affect their plans.

Former captain Clarke backs decision to postpone Ryder Cup

The European Tour announced that the qualification process for the European team has been frozen until the beginning of 2021.

And the next Ryder Cup to be held in Europe has been pushed back a year with Rome now set to host the event in 2023.

'The crowd atmosphere would have missed'

Europe captain Padraig Harrington said it was a "relief" that organisers decided to postpone the competition.

"For me, it was very messy behind the scenes," the 48-year-old Irishman said.

"The decision was based on health and safety, but trying to get organised behind the scenes, it was going to be incredibly difficult to pull a team together that was fair and representative, and all the complications that go with it.

"For example, what happens if a player gets Covid? What happens if there's a cluster? Do players have to quarantine?"

Harrington also said that if the Ryder Cup went ahead without fans then it would have lost part of its character.

"The team atmosphere the crowd generate, that would've been missed," the three-time major winner added. "When you win in a tournament it's very exciting, but you don't get the same experience as you would at the Ryder Cup.

"I've seen over the years, the amount of players that come out of their shell in terms of their personality because of the crowds and that would be missed."

In 2018 Europe regained the trophy with a 17½-10½ win over USA in the 42nd edition of the biennial competition.

Three majors remain

Meanwhile, there has been a knock-on effect from the rescheduling with next September's Presidents Cup - between the US and a Rest of the World team - at Quail Hollow also now postponed for a year.

The Wells Fargo Championship will be played at its traditional venue at Quail Hollow in 2021 and at TPC Potomac in 2022, during Presidents Cup year.

This year's PGA Tour in the US has played four events behind closed doors following the shutdown enforced by coronavirus, despite a handful of positive tests, while the European Tour will resume on 22 July with the first of six successive UK events.

The number of daily coronavirus cases is rising again in the US with fears it could reach 100,000 per day.

Only three of the four annual men's majors are scheduled to take place in 2020 - all of them in the United States - after the Open Championship, due to be played from 15-18 July at Royal St George's in Kent, was cancelled.

The rearranged USPGA Championship is now set to be the first major of the year but that will be held behind closed doors in San Francisco from 6-9 August.

The US Open is to be played at Winged Foot in New York State from 17-20 September, with the Masters following from 12-15 November at Augusta National.

Analysis

BBC Sport golf correspondent Iain Carter

It was clear there were two different camps: those who know the financial difficulties of navigating this period without holding an event that is their biggest cash cow, and the players.

These golfers had no interest in generating roars and cheers that would only be heard in living rooms. They need to hear them for themselves - that is what makes the Ryder Cup such an attractive proposition for them.

And it was that view that ultimately held sway. The players are everything and their views are the ones that played the biggest part in the decision to postpone until 2021.

So we will wait another year. Hopefully former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn's fears are unfounded, although there is plenty to suggest he makes a worryingly worthwhile point over whether it will be possible to have fans at the match in 2021.

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