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Ryder Cup could be staged without spectators

A general view over the 18th green during singles matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National (by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

This year’s Ryder Cup could be held without spectators, PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh has revealed.

The biennial men’s golf team tournament between the United States and Europe remains scheduled for September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin.

It is one of the few events unaltered on a drastically-changed golf calendar that has been significantly hit by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard to imagine one without fans,” Waugh told WFAN radio in New York. “We have begun to talk about whether you could create some virtual fan experience, and we’re going to try to be as creative as we can. It’s [still] to be determined, frankly, whether you could hold it without fans or not.”

He added: “All of them are better with fans and I’m not suggesting it doesn’t change the experience, but in the Ryder Cup it’s particularly important. We’ll be very careful about that. It’s a very unique thing.”

The intense, and sometimes hostile, fan atmosphere is what makes the Ryder Cup so special among golf events. However the potential move follows that of the PGA Tour, which is planning a June return without fans.

“I was told categorically that the Ryder Cup would not be played behind closed doors. Now I hear it is a possibility and I think that’s based of the fact the [US] PGA [in August] may be behind closed doors,” Europe captain Padraig Harrington told BBC radio at the weekend.

“I know people can change their minds, but I was told categorically at one stage not to go down that road. I was told it was going to be played with spectators – and that’s it. Everything changes. It is above my pay grade and I don’t know what they are thinking. I was told categorically, but I’m not 100 per cent sure now,” Harrington said.