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'Most players want it postponed but there's bigger things at play' - Harrington torn on behind closed doors Ryder Cup

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European Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington. Pic: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

European Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington. Pic: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

PA

European Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington. Pic: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington has expressed his hope that the Ryder Cup can go ahead as normal at Whistling Straits in September but admitted that the players would prefer to postpone the event until 2021.

The three-time major winner was speaking to Virgin Media's Ireland AM on Sunday morning ahead of golf's return to live action for the first time in two months with a four-way behind-closed-doors skins tournament at Seminole tonight featuring Rory McIlroy. The world No 1 will partner Dustin Johnson in a charity match for coronavirus relief against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff to be broadcast on Sky Sports and NBC.

"I'll definitely be glued tonight. I think golf is ideal in that setting, small numbers outdoors," Harrington said.

"Obviously the PGA are trying to get back to a full field event in a months time behind closed doors. Logistically, that's a lot tougher. Getting through the hurdle of today with four people is a big step.

"The events in June behind closed doors would be another and eventually August , supposedly with spectators, another. If both those go okay then we're talking the Ryder Cup in September."

However, even if events in America go ahead safely before then, the international element of the Ryder Cup adds another level of complication with no clarity at this point in relation to what travel restrictions may remain in place.

And while the Irishman's own preference is to play in front of the fans, he admitted that playing for the good of sport to boost morale in the current crisis is a strong consideration.

"Clearly there's a lot of ifs with the Ryder Cup in terms of talk of playing behind closed doors," he explained.

"Which is really the only solution if it goes ahead because I can't see any Europeans being allowed travel if it goes ahead at that stage. Or wanting to travel with two weeks quarantine in and out. So I think that's the option they're looking at and it's a possibility.

"I think every player has come out and said they want to wait. There's nobody who wants to play behind closed doors.

"But there is the aspect of playing a sporting event for sport, for golf and for the good of everybody and that's what they're considering. If it was to come down to selfish reasons, everybody would want it delayed, it's not going to be the same.

"The players play for free, what they're actually playing for is the glory of the event. And you don't have that glory unless you have people cheering, good and bad, when you're playing.

"It's the one opportunity for golfers to have a team event where they feel like footballers out there amongst the crowd in a stadium. That obviously would be missed this year.

"I can see where players are coming from. They all have different schedules, they all have a lot going on and don't want to play any more than they have to. Most of them do want that situation where it's just postponed but there's bigger things at play."

Online Editors