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2020 Ryder Cup postponed until 2021 at Whistling Straits because of pandemic uncertainty

The Ryder Cup tournament at Hazeltine National Golf

The Ryder Cup tournament at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., in 2016. Credit: AP/Charlie Riedel

 With Wednesday’s announcement that this year’s Ryder Cup has been postponed to 2021, the rolling effect is that the PGA’s rollicking, full-throated event scheduled for Bethpage Black in 2024 will now be played in 2025. 

  This year’s Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, scheduled for Sept. 25-27, had no assurance it could be played with fans in attendance, a key emotional component of the team competition between the U.S. and Europe. Big name players such as Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy had questioned the viability of playing the Cup without fans.

   “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,” PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said. “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.” 

  Some 40,000 fans were originally expected to attend the event, and Waugh made it clear that authorities  and health officials were uneasy with reducing that number to 10,000. 

“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,” Waugh said. “A Ryder Cup with no fans is not a Ryder Cup.” 

  Because of the Cup postponement to 2021—still to be held at Whistling Straits—next year’s Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour’s successful knockoff event, will move to 2022 at the Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte. The 2022 Ryder Cup in Rome moves to 2023. The Ryder Cup was last postponed a year by the 2001 Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    “New York State Parks values its partnership with the PGA of America, and we look forward to working with the organization to make the Ryder Cup a success at Bethpage Black in 2025,” parks department spokesman Dan Keefe said in an email to Newsday. 

  The pandemic has forced the rearrangement of golf’s biggest events this year with the Masters postponed until November, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot moved to Sept. 17-20, the British Open canceled and the PGA Championship moved from May to August in San Francisco and will be played with out spectators.

    At last year’s PGA Championship at the Black, Phil Mickelson, beloved by the Long Island golf crowd after second-place finishes in the 2002 and 2009 Opens on the venerable tract, gushed over the course as a Ryder Cup venue.

    “I’m always excited to come back in a few years and be a part of the Ryder Cup in 2024 because this place is the best host site I could ever possibly think of because these people here will give us a great home-course advantage,” Mickelson said.

     The prevailing school of thought is if Mickelson can’t make the Ryder Cup team for 2025 (he will be 55 years old then) that the PGA would tap him as the captain.

   “I haven’t looked that far down the road, I just know the crowds here are wonderful and I’m excited that the PGA of America made that decision and the people here at Bethpage will be part of this,” Mickelson said. “If you look at how it is here for the PGA Championship, I can only imagine how it will be for the Ryder Cup.”      

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