By DOUG FERGUSON
Seth Waugh knows how a Ryder Cup is supposed to look and how it should sound.
In his first week as CEO at the PGA of America, Waugh was in the 72-foot high grandstand behind the first tee at Le Golf National outside Paris. Flags were waving. Fans were singing. Players were trying to conceal their nerves. That’s what he expects for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
The inevitable became reality Wednesday when Ryder Cup officials postponed the September matches until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that made it increasingly unlikely the loudest event in golf could have spectators.
“A Ryder Cup with no fans is not a Ryder Cup,” Waugh said.
The Ryder Cup was scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits along the Lake Michigan shore. Because of a reconfigured schedule created by golf being shut down for three months, the matches would have been held one week after the U.S. Open.
Now, the Ryder Cup will move to Sept. 24-26, 2021, the second time in the last two decades it was postponed. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks led the 2001 matches to be postponed two weeks before they were set to be played.
Waugh, the former CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, called it “the most complicated deal of my career” because of so many moving parts.
The decision mean Europe’s next home Ryder Cup set for Italy has been pushed back until 2023. The European Tour thrives on Ryder Cup revenue.
And it affects the PGA Tour, which already has lost millions this year while trying to keep canceled tournaments solvent. The Presidents Cup in 2021 at Quail Hollow in North Carolina was a sellout in corporate hospitality, and it now gets pushed back a year.
Quail Hollow instead will host the Wells Fargo Championship next spring, and that event will move to the TPC Potomac in 2022 during the Presidents Cup year.
“It was very clear that once we reset the schedule, there were challenges,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “They did absolutely everything they could to play the Ryder Cup and play it with fans. When it was clear that was something they were unable to do, we came to the table and were about to reach the right outcome for players and fans.”
Franco Chimenti, president of the Italian Golf Federation, told The Associated Press the postponement gives Rome more time to prepare the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.
“We would have been ready (by 2022), and now we’ll be ready by 2023,” Chimenti said. “We’re about to inaugurate the course. We don’t have problems.”