Padraig Harrington has insisted the cash-strapped Europeans do not need the Ryder Cup to take place this year and even claimed that if September’s match were postponed to 2021 - when it presumably would be guaranteed to have fans - they would make more money.
The Europe captain’s comments emerged the day after Rory McIlroy, the world No 1, said that the players should not be forced to play at a spectator-less Whistling Straits, adding that the professionals do not get paid and warning that a match with “no atmosphere” could damage the Ryder Cup’s popularity.
McIlroy claimed that the majority of the players, on both teams, would rather wait 12 months and the likes of world No 2 Jon Rahm, world No 3 Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood had expressed their opposition to the no-galleries concept.
Yet Harrington has gone on record as saying his players “might have to take one for the team” and stomach a sterile scenario and, in a recent interview, stated: “It would be wrong not to consider the financial side.” However, he now asserts that a Ryder Cup minus supporters would have nothing to do with economic necessity.
Harrington has changed his tune a number of times in the past few months but now his contention seems to be that, although the Ryder Cup would be “diminished” as a product, it could act as a fillip in the pandemic.
“It certainly would only go on because sport may need - and people may need - a bit of an uplift,” Harrington said.