Westwood says fans 'essential' to Ryder Cup

Westwood says fans 'essential' to Ryder Cup

England's Lee Westwood, in line to play in his 11th Ryder Cup, says spectators are "essential" to the US-Europe golf showdown despite the possibility of empty stands due to COVID-19.


Westwood, a vice captain two years ago when Europe won the trophy in France, told The Golf Channel he cannot see staging the event without the emotional responses spectators bring to the rivalry.

"I just don't see somebody holing the winning putt, from either side, on the 18th green or wherever it may be, turning to an empty stand, raising his hands in the air and it feeling the same," Westwood said in a Wednesday posting on the network website.

"It's never going to feel the same, with what's going on, but if any tournament needs fans, it's that tournament. Just for me, the fans are essential for the Ryder Cup."

The 43rd Ryder Cup remains scheduled for September 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, and no decisions about spectators have been announced in a season that has seen golf shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a rearranged global schedule, the British Open was cancelled and three majors in the United States moved to later in the year.

World number one Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and US star Brooks Koepka, ranked third, also questioned staging a Ryder Cup without fans, as the first four US PGA Tour return events are set to have next month.

A Ryder Cup postponement to 2021 "may be needed" rather than playing without spectators, Westwood said.

The Englishman played for seven Cup winners in 10 playing appearances, earning 23 points with a best of 4.5 in a 2004 winning effort.

The shutdown has played havoc with Cup qualifying, although Westwood is on the current list for European captain Padraig Harrington after a January European Tour triumph at Abu Dhabi.

"We might have to modify it a little bit," Westwood said of the team roster selection process. "I think Padraig is pleased with the way the team's shaping up, and the way that qualifying has gone.

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