Padraig Harrington: A 'no fans' Ryder Cup may have to happen

Ryder Cup Padraig Harrington

Rory McIlroy is against the idea. So, too, Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari.

However, speaking to The Times, European captain Padraig Harrington has said that he believes it is possible that this year’s Ryder Cup could take place without fans.

Just over a week ago, the Irishman revealed that both he and his American counterpart Steve Stricker are opposed to the idea of spectators being locked out of this year’s match, scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits in Wisconscin from September 25-27.

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Now, though, it appears that the three-time major champion is reluctantly coming around to the idea.

"Everyone wants fans to be there,” said Harrington, “but the question is does sport need the Ryder Cup and should the Ryder Cup take one for the team? 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 most recent Ryder Cup, at Le Golf National in Paris in 2018, was attended by approximately 270,000 golf fans, generating economic activity of more almost €250million, so dismissing the idea of allowing spectators to attend is not a decision that can be taken lightly.

Last week, world No.1 McIlroy made his position abundantly clear, saying: “A Ryder Cup without fans is not a Ryder Cup.”

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Meanwhile, Harrington has also revealed that, contrary to some suggestions, there is no provision in place whereby his team comprises solely of picks made by him.

With the world’s professional golf tours in the midst of a coronavirus-enforced lockdown, and the European Tour having either postponed or cancelled all events through to the end of July, it had been suggested that qualifying for this year’s match could be scrapped and Harrington given the luxury of picking his entire 12-man team.

Not so, according to the skipper, who said that there is “no scenario” for 12 picks.

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