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Tiger Woods: It just wouldn't be the Ryder Cup without fans making it special

 

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Good call: Tiger Woods agreed with the Ryder Cup’s postponement

Good call: Tiger Woods agreed with the Ryder Cup’s postponement

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Good call: Tiger Woods agreed with the Ryder Cup’s postponement

Tiger Woods has backed the decision to postpone this year's Ryder Cup, claiming that the biennial contest between Europe and the USA wouldn't be the same without fans in attendance.

The event, which was due to be held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin this September, has been pushed back to next year after tournament organisers couldn't guarantee the public access to the course due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ryder Cup is one of the most popular team events worldwide due to its vociferous and hostile atmosphere, and Woods, who has played in eight Ryder Cups during his career, has backed the call to postpone this year's event.

"Quite frankly, a Ryder Cup without fans is not the Ryder Cup," said the 15-time Major champion, speaking ahead of this week's Memorial Tournament.

"As it is now, okay. So when the Ryder Cup first started there weren't that many people involved in the game, but the world has expanded, the event has expanded.

"And, as far as I can remember, I've always seen people involved in a Ryder Cup - the chanting and screaming and the participation, the bipartisanship that has been part of the sport and part of the event.

"I think what they did with suspending it for the year and moving it to next year was the right thing. We couldn't have an environment in which we could protect all the fans that were going to be involved and have that type of assurance. Obviously if that's the case, you can't have the fans.

"Well, if you can't have the fans, then it's not the Ryder Cup."

Woods also said he's determined to make a winning return in his first event back on golf's elite circuit this week as he looks to overtake Sam Snead's long-standing record for PGA Tour victories.

The former World No.1 has been the major absentee since golf resumed behind closed doors last month, and was one of the very few players who opted not to return to play once tournaments were rescheduled.

But Woods will be in the field for the first time since lockdown this week at the Memorial, where he is a five-time champion, and would eclipse Snead's record of 82 wins on Tour if he triumphed at Muirfield Village for a sixth time.

Despite his lack of tournament play in recent weeks - the 44-year-old hasn't played a competitive round since February's Genesis Invitational - he has proven that he can win after a long break as recently as last October when he claimed the ZOZO Championship after skipping 10 tournament weeks.

"I would like to say that I'm going to win the event," insisted Woods, who will play alongside World No.1 Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka in the opening two rounds. "That's my intent coming in here, that's my intent going into every event.

"Whether that plays out come Sunday, hopefully that will be the case. It was that one particular week, three tournaments ago at ZOZO. There's no reason why I can't do it again this week.

"It feels great to be back. I haven't played at a tournament venue for a while, since February. It's been a long time. It's certainly a different world, a different environment, that we're living in.

"To watch how the Tour has evolved and how it's started back, and to see no fans, it's a very different world out here."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell is in action tonight when he and Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter go up against two-time Irish Open champion Jon Rahm and Tony Finau in a nine-hole exhibition match at Muirfield Village for charity.

Belfast Telegraph