The PGA Tour returns this week when the Charles Schwab Challenge is played without fans in Fort Worth, Texas, but the popular opinion Tuesday at Colonial Country Club continued to support the idea that playing the 2020 Ryder Cup without spectators at Whistling Straits would be a disaster waiting to happen.
"I've said it already; if the Ryder Cup doesn't have spectators or limited spectators, they shouldn't do it," Spain's Jon Rahm, a member of the 2018 European Ryder Cup team, told reporters at his pre-tournament news conference. "There's no point. It's the ultimate entertainment. It's the one week where we don't play for ourselves, we're playing for Europe, we're playing for the U.S. and we're playing for the fans, and the fans make the event what it is.
"If there can't be spectators or you can't have the Ryder Cup as a normal Ryder Cup, I don't think they should do it; postpone it a year and do it right."
"We can't be pompous in golf, to think that we're the only sport that needs fans." 🏌️♂️— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) June 8, 2020
"If an event can be cancelled, and put back without losing the integrity, I think it's the Ryder Cup." 🏆@McGinleyGolf discusses the prospect of playing the Ryder Cup without fans. pic.twitter.com/m9XqNP4Hho
Dallas native Jordan Spieth, a member of three U.S. Ryder Cup teams but languishing at No. 17 in the U.S. points standings, said he would like to play the Ryder Cup "even if there are no fans," but acknowledged "it would 100 percent not be the same."
Spieth and Rahm echoed the comments of their respective 2020 Ryder Cup captains, Madison's Steve Stricker and Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who have both supported the idea of postponing the biennial matches until 2021 if they cannot be played with fans at Whistling Straits.
In an interview with England-based talkSports, former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said he believes "the writing is on the wall" and the 2020 event will be delayed a year. However, he acknowledged there are some "huge commercial decisions to be made" on top of the ongoing concern over staging major sporting events as the world continues to recover from the coronavirus outbreak.
The issue figures to get more and more amplified in the comings weeks with the return of the PGA Tour, which has been on hiatus since The Players Championship was halted after one round in mid-March with the COVID-19 pandemic in its infancy. This week is the first of four sans-spectators events as the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C., The Travelers in Cromwell, Conn., and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit will all be contested without the usual atmosphere of a PGA Tour tournament.
But that's not the only change in play for golfers, caddies and the limited number of essential tournament personnel who will be allowed on the property.
Rahm said he was administered a COVID-19 test at 7 a.m. Tuesday. "Hurt way more than I thought it would, honestly, I'm not going to lie," he said.
Precautions of that nature haven't deterred a star-studded field from descending on Colonial CC. The top five golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings are in the 148-golfer field, which features 101 PGA Tour winners — including Stricker and fellow PGA Tour Champions-eligible golfers such as Scott McCarron, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman and David Frost, whose 2020 season on the senior circuit won't resume until late July.
There just won't be any fans to cheer them one. They will all be at home watching an enhanced telecast of the PGA Tour on Golf Channel and CBS.
"It will be odd, especially given I'm paired with Rickie (Fowler) and Justin (Thomas) and we're used to being paired where we get a lot of people and you can feed off the crowds and all that," Spieth told reporters, acknowledging that — even from his spot at No. 17 on the U.S. Ryder Cup points standings — it would really seem strange at Whistling Straits. "I mean, I certainly am on the outside looking in ... but as far as a Ryder Cup without fans, that would obviously be extremely unusual.
"I think every, single player and everyone involved, wants them. I'd still like to play in it, even if there are no fans. It's still a competition; you still have your teammates and you're playing for your country, and there's certainly plenty of interest in people watching it. But it would 100 percent not be the same."