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Padraig Harrington says Ryder Cup may have to 'take one for team' and manage without fans

Team Europe captain says decision must be made for the greater good of sport

European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington. PA 
European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington. PA 

Europe captain Padraig Harrington has said staging this year's Ryder Cup without fans might be the only way forward amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Three of the year's four majors have already been rescheduled and the British Open has been cancelled. But the Ryder Cup is still scheduled in Whistling Straits, Wisconsin from September 25 with PGA of America chief Seth Waugh saying it may be held without fans.

"Everyone wants fans to be there, but the question is does sport need the Ryder Cup and should the Ryder Cup take one for the team?" Harrington told The Times.

"Would it be for the greater good of sport? It wouldn't be in the Ryder Cup's best interests but it could be in the best interests of enough people who want to see a big sporting occasion on TV."

The PGA Tour plans to restart its season in June with the first four competitions closed to the public, and Harrington said the PGA of America and European Tour would make a decision on the Ryder Cup after studying those events.

"If those PGA Tour events go well, behind closed doors, then we're far more likely to see a Ryder Cup as normal," three-times major winner Harrington added.

"It massively increases the odds of being with fans because by September we may have moved on. I assume there's no chance of a vaccine (by September) so we're looking at how well contained it is by then and how treatable it is."

The world's No 1 golfer Rory McIlroy last week made his position perfectly clear, saying he would rather the Ryder Cup got delayed than to be played without spectators.

“I have a pretty strong view on this. I get the financial implications for everyone involved … there’s a lot that goes into putting on the Ryder Cup that people don’t probably know or appreciate. But having a Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup," McIlroy said in an Instagram Live.

“For me, I would much rather they delay it until 2021 than play it at Whistling Straits without fans. And that’s from a European going to America, knowing that I’m going to get abuse.”

Updated: April 29, 2020 02:52 PM

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