Steve Stricker, the US captain, has declared it would be “a crime” for the Ryder Cup to be played behind closed doors this year.
And with a final decision promised before the end of this month, Stricker’s intervention surely kills off the PGA of America’s idea of a fanless biennial dust-up and clears the way for an overdue postponement to 2021.
While Padraig Harrington, the Europe captain, has remained open to the possibility of a match without supporters, his counterpart has come out with the strongest condemnation yet, building on the opposition expressed by top players such as Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm.
Whistling Straits, the venue for September’s clash, is in Stricker’s home state of Wisconsin and he is plainly passionate against the money-fuelled concept of his fellow Wisconsinites being denied one of their greatest sporting experiences.
“To cheat out the Wisconsin fans, I think, would be a crime,” Stricker said. “This event is made by the fans. To me, if it was without fans, it would be a yawner… So I just hope that when we do have it, it can be up to its full potential.”
Stricker made his comments to the Golf Affect Show, a programme presented by father-in-law Dennis Tiziani, a former PGA Tour player, on a local radio in the small city of Madison. But it is a statement set to gain much more prominence.
While Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, told the McKellar Golf Podcast on Wednesday “I will simply say, you’ll know by the end of the month”, Stricker revealed news from the two bodies who run the match could come in the next fortnight.
“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,” 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. The confidence of the people and the corporate people. It’s going to come down to probably the safety. And who knows, right?”
As it is, Stricker, who still lives in Wisconsin, is not even sure that he has the confidence to play at Colonial, Texas next week. The 53-year-old has been offered a spot in the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first event on the PGA Tour in three months, but he acknowledges he has Coronavirus concerns.
“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. I want to go play next week I’m just struggling if that’s the right thing.”