The decision whether to hold the 2020 Ryder Cup on its scheduled dates of Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits or postpone it for one year is expected to be made in the next “two to three weeks,” U.S. team captain Steve Stricker said Monday.
In an interview on “The Golf Affect,” a Madison-based radio show, Stricker said, “So far, we’re planning it as it’s a go, like we’re going to have it. But there’s some obstacles that we’re going to have to face, I think. The confidence of the people and the corporate people. It’s going to come down to probably the safety. And who knows, right?”
Stricker, a regular on the weekly radio show hosted by Paul Braun and Stricker’s father-in-law, Dennis Tiziani, said construction of the infrastructure at Whistling Straits would have to start soon if the event was to be held in September.
“They’re going to have to make a decision here probably within the next two or three weeks because the buildup to put up all the stands and all the corporate tents, all that kind of stuff, has to happen in June,” he said. “So, you’ve got to kind of look into a crystal ball and no one knows, really. … It’s a wait-and-see for me, but we’re going ahead with planning as it’s going to happen, and hopefully it does.”
Stricker, a Madison resident, also said he would “hate” for the Ryder Cup to be held without spectators. That is one possibility floated several weeks ago by PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh as the sports world struggles to figure out how to go forward in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I mean, this event is made by the fans,” he said. “To me, if it was without the fans it almost would be a yawner of an event. The passion, I don’t know if it would be there. The fans create all that unbelievable atmosphere that we play in front of. And without the fans, I don’t know … it still would be a nice event, but I think the fans make it everything.
“And to cheat out the Wisconsin fans, I think, would be a crime. So, I just hope that when we do have it, it can be up to its full potential.”
Stricker touched on several other subjects in the 10-minute interview:
On the difficulty of European Tour players coming to America to play in PGA Tour events during the coronavirus pandemic: “I was told last week that if a European player wants to come over and play on our Tour when our Tour starts next week (with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas), he’s got to come over here, self-quarantine for two weeks, play in the event … say he plays two weeks on the regular Tour here, and then if he goes back home he’s got to quarantine again for two more weeks. So, the guy has played in two weeks of tournaments but it cost six weeks of his life – four weeks of quarantining. I think the European Tour has frozen their (Ryder Cup) points. They don’t want to put pressure on their players to feel like they’ve got to come over here and make Ryder Cup points.”
On how a one-year postponement of the Ryder Cup could potentially impact the 2021 schedule: “I think they would just push everything back. That’s what happened at 9-11. When it happened back in 2001, they canceled that year’s Ryder Cup and moved it to 2002, and that’s how we got on the even years for having the Ryder Cup. That would be up to the PGA of America and the PGA Tour to hash that out. I’m sure Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, isn’t so keen on the push back of the (2021) Presidents Cup. They rely on the money they generate for that event. I don’t know if we could have two events in one year. You know, have the Ryder Cup in June. It’s also an Olympic year next year so I think there’s just so much going on and there’s so much movement and fluidity that no one can really make an informed decision at this time.”
On measures taken by the PGA Tour to ensure that players, caddies and support staff will be safe during tournaments: “If I go play next week, I’ve got to get tested in the middle of this week. I’ve got to get on a Zoom call with a medical group that will watch me put saliva in a tube and then I’ll overnight it. They’ll get it within 24 or 48 hours and I’ll get the results back. So, I’ll know whether I’m virus-free before I would go to the event. And then once I get to the event – before I go to the golf course – I have to get tested again. I have to fill out a questionnaire. What have I been doing? Caddies are going to be doing the same thing, as well. So, we’re all going to be hopefully in this secure little bubble of being tested. And then we’re going to practice social distancing and do all the things we’ve been told to do and guided to do. It’s going to be different. No fans. No corporate presence whatsoever. No pro-am. Just strictly golf.”
On whether he’ll play in the Charles Schwab Challenge: “They gave me a spot next week at Colonial. I’ve accepted it but I’m still kind of on the fence. We’ve been very cautious as a family. My oldest daughter (Bobbi) has an autoimmune issue. So we’re a little bit more cautious than everybody else. The grandparents are still alive and we don’t want to be bringing (the virus) to any of them. So we go out and get our groceries and that’s about it. We’ll have a few driveway dinners with friends, but I haven’t been in anybody’s house, nor has anybody been in our house. We’ve taken it pretty seriously and we’ve been very cautious.
“I want to go play next week. I’m just struggling if that’s the right thing to do or not. There’s a lot of things. You know, taking a spot away from somebody else. There’s kids that could play instead of me. For me it would be about going out and seeing the guys on the Ryder Cup team and trying to play well. I’m still excited to play. But I’ve had a run and a good time of playing and my time has been. So, do I take that spot? Do I go and play or do I give it up? So those are the things that I’m constantly thinking over and trying to come up with the right decision.”