It’s official: Ryder Cup postponed to 2021

The worst-kept secret in golf was made official: the Ryder Cup will be postponed a year and the Presidents Cup pushed to 2022.

The worst-kept secret in golf was made official on Wednesday. The Ryder Cup has been postponed one year and will return to being played in odd-numbered years going forward.

The 43rd biennial bout between the U.S. and Europe was scheduled for Sept. 25-27 along the Lake Michigan shores of Wisconsin at Whistling Straits. The two sides will meet at the same location and play Sept. 24-26, 2021.

“Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “It became clear that as of today, our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible. Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call.”

The PGA of America and European Tour had been considering a variety of options, including playing this year without fans or with limited spectators. But high-profile players voiced concern over playing a Ryder Cup without fans.

“I’m not shocked,” said Jon Rahm a member of the victorious 2018 European Ryder Cup team. “I know a lot of people probably wanted to watch the Ryder Cup, but Ryder Cup is not the Ryder Cup without spectators. Right now it doesn’t seem like there’s a legitimate way to make it safe for everybody, so I think it’s the smart choice. At the end of the day, Ryder Cup is one of the most viewed events, sporting events in the world, so it’s something that brings a lot of attention for the game of golf. It’s something that grows the game of golf throughout the world. I think it’s important that it’s done and it’s performed and we play the way the Ryder Cup is supposed to be.”

The Ryder Cup postponement necessitated that the PGA Tour move the 2021 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte to Sept. 23-25, 2022. The venue remains the same.

“These two premier international team events are lifted by the spirit of the fans,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. “With the uncertainty of the current climate, we fully support the Ryder Cup’s decision to delay a year in order to ensure fans could be a part of the incredible atmosphere in Wisconsin, and the delay of this year’s Presidents Cup was the right decision in order to allow for that option.”

Also on the postponement list is the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup, which was scheduled for 2022 in Italy at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club near Rome. That match will now be held in 2023 at the same venue, and future Ryder Cups (2025 at Bethpage Black in New York; 2027 at Adare Manor in Ireland, and so forth) are returning to odd-numbered years as it had long been until the 2001 competition was postponed due to the 9/11 attack.

For Ryder Cup qualifying, both the United States and European teams will revisit their respective selection processes in the near future. Tickets purchased for the 2020 Ryder Cup via will be automatically valid for the corresponding day(s) in 2021.

Both Ryder Cup captain expressed their disappointment, but agreed it was the right decision to be made.

“At the end of the day, we want to stage a Ryder Cup that will rival all other Ryder Cups in my home state of Wisconsin, and now we have the opportunity to showcase the event as it was meant to be seen,” U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker said.

Padraig Harrington, Captain of the European Ryder Cup Team, said: “Rescheduling the Ryder Cup was never going to be an easy decision given the many factors to take into consideration. But I believe it is the right assessment given the unprecedented circumstances we are facing at this time.

“When you think of the Ryder Cup you think of the distinctive atmosphere generated by the spectators, such as around the first tee at Le Golf National two years ago. If that cannot be responsibly recreated at Whistling Straits in September, then it is correct that we all wait until it can be. I know, right now, that September 2021 feels like a long time away. But it will come around quickly and I guarantee that the European players and I will be ready when it does.”

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Presidents Cup captain Trevor Immelman is the man with the plan for International Team

Ernie Els has passed the baton to fellow South African Trevor Immelman ensuring continuity for the International side moving forward.

Melville Fuller, a former chief justice of the United States, once said, “Without continuity men would become like flies in summer.”

As far as we know, Fuller wasn’t speaking about the International Team for the Presidents Cup, but he might as well have been. On Tuesday, South African Trevor Immelman was named 2021 Presidents Cup captain for the International squad when the biennial competition is held at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

This was a vote for team continuity as Ernie Els passed the baton to Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, who served as understudy at the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. What Els did to breathe new life into the matches can’t be underscored enough. He created “a family dynamic” and gave the team “an identity,” Immelman said.

“We felt that over the years that might have been something that was missing,” he said. “It’s a pretty big hurdle to try and overcome when you have players coming from seven, eight, nine different countries, different cultures, different languages. It’s a big hurdle for us to have to overcome that particular week.”

True continuity, one could argue, would have been Els coming back for a second tour of duty. Instead he’s throwing his efforts behind a bigger and more personal cause: Els for Autism, a disease his son, Ben, suffers from, and this is the best use of his time. What Els did was create a blueprint for Immelman and future captains – whether it be Canadian Mike Weir, Korea’s K.J. Choi, or Australians Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott.

“What he has created for our team, I think, is going to be so massive, not just in Charlotte but I’m talking about three, four, five, six Presidents Cups down the road,” Immelman said. “I think what Ernie did for our team, giving us something to build off of, we sure are hoping that that is going to be some kind of turning point for our team to where we can find a way to finally win this Cup again.”

While no one on the International Team, especially Els, was celebrating a moral victory in holding the lead entering Sunday’s singles before the U.S. rallied for a 16-14 victory at Royal Melbourne, Els and Co. believe they have put an end to a lopsided competition (the U.S. leads 11-1-1 in 13 matches). Someday, Els may be remembered as the International team’s version of Tony Jacklin, who accepted the European Ryder Cup captain’s role in 1983 and two years later became the inspirational leader of its first triumph in 28 years. That win ignited an intense rivalry.

“My relationship with Trevor goes way back and I have always had the utmost respect for him as a player and a person,” Els said. “Trevor was an invaluable member of our team and completely bought into what we were trying to do at Royal Melbourne, so it is gratifying to see him take this next step and lead the International Team.”

Els met Immelman when he was 6 or 7 and handed Immelman a golf trophy at age 12. They are the best of friends, and Immelman, who was a teammate of Els on the International side in defeat in 2005 and 2007, considered it an honor to jump back into the fold as one of Els’s lieutenants.

“When he picked me as an assistant captain, I had no designs at all or even thoughts of possibly being a captain one day. I was just so focused on trying to help him,” Immelman said. “It just sort of organically came about.”

Immelman, 40, had his playing career curtailed by injuries, but he’s still active on the PGA Tour as a TV commentator for CBS and studio analyst for Golf Channel. He plays just enough on the PGA Tour as a two-time past champion to be active and familiar with all the players. That knowledge, as well as prior experience working with Els and as captain of the Junior Presidents Cup International team in 2017, will serve him well.

The fact remains that the U.S. side likely will be loaded again — don’t forget that Brooks Koepka was sidelined — and competing at a course they play every year during the Wells Fargo Championship (and in 2017, the PGA Championship). This will be the true test for the International sides much ballyhooed blueprint, just as playing away in France in 2018 exposed holes in Team USA’s master plan for regaining supremacy in the Ryder Cup. Is Immelman the right man for the job? Time will tell, but at least it’s good to know that his father thinks so.

“He’s been a leader ever since he was a young kid,” said Johan Immelman. “He always rose to the occasion.”

That’s a trait shared with Els. Sounds like the International Team has found some continuity.

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