Padraig Harrington thinks if the Ryder Cup happens this fall, it'll be severely 'diminished'

Yahoo Sports

The Ryder Cup is still on as scheduled for September despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

European team captain Padraig Harrington’s traveling party, however, has mostly fallen apart.

“I’m now down to four, something like that,” Harrington said of his once 150-person group that was planning to join him at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin this fall, via the Associated Press.

The PGA Tour is set to restart next month, kicking off its revised schedule with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. It’ll wrap up with the Tour Championship in September before the Ryder Cup and three of the four rescheduled major championships. 

The Ryder Cup, a biennial competition between Europe and the United States, will be played Sept. 25-27. 

If the event takes place at all, it’s likely that it’ll end up being held without fans in attendance. Many in the golf world, including top-ranked Rory McIlroy, don’t see a point in even holding the Ryder Cup this fall if that’s the case.

“A Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said last month.

“It wouldn’t be a great spectacle. There’d be no atmosphere. So if it came to whether they had to choose between not playing the event or playing it without fans, I would say just delay it a year and play it in 2021.”

Harrington is in the same boat. 

Even if they do let fans in, the six-time Tour winner knows it’ll be almost all American fans. With travel bans, restrictions and general fears of the coronavirus, Harrington doubts any Europeans will be willing to make the trek to Wisconsin.

“My friends who don’t play golf are into the Ryder Cup because of the buzz, the atmosphere, the excitement. That’s why the players enjoy it and play it. It’s going to be missed,” Harrington said, via the Associated Press.

“If it’s on, it’s without fans. Or without a semblance of fans because there won’t be the ones coming from Europe. If you only have home fans, there’s nothing to cheer for and against. That’s it, at the end of the day.”

There were more than 1.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday night, according to The New York Times, and more than 87,000 confirmed deaths attributed to it. 

Having a Ryder Cup this fall could end up helping fans more than usual, Harrington said, given the global pandemic and widespread lack of sports. The event, however, will be “diminished.”

“The question is, do they take one for sport?” Harrington said, via the Associated Press. “Do people sitting at home want the Ryder Cup in a diminished format just so they have sport on TV?

“There is a much bigger thing going on. Put it in context of what’s going on in the world. But this is why we are actually talking about the Ryder Cup going ahead. Because, in its current form, it certainly would only go on because sport may need — and people may need — a bit of an uplift.”

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