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Rory McIlroy predicts Ryder Cup will be pushed back to 2021 and would back postponement as 'right call'

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Rory McIlroy thinks the Ryder Cup will get moved to 2021 (Jane Barlow/PA)

Rory McIlroy thinks the Ryder Cup will get moved to 2021 (Jane Barlow/PA)

Rory McIlroy thinks the Ryder Cup will get moved to 2021 (Jane Barlow/PA)

The golf season is preparing to swing back into action, with Rory McIlroy scheduled to return to PGA Tour action in just two weeks, but that doesn't mean top level postponements are over, the world number one has warned.

The Open Championship has already been cancelled for 2020, with Royal St George's due to host the 2021 tournament instead, while the other three major tournaments have all been delayed until later in the year.

Beginning with the USPGA Championship in the first week of August, that means it's a packed autumn schedule, with the Tour Championship, the US Open and the Ryder Cup all slated for September and the Masters pencilled in for November.

McIlroy, however, isn't convinced the calendar will run quite as smoothly as planned, with the Ryder Cup, he says, mostly likely to get put back to 2021.

"My hunch, and I'm only speaking for my opinion, is that I don't see how (the Ryder Cup) is going to happen," the Holywood golfer told the BBC, reiterating his position that golf's biggest matches shouldn't be played behind closed doors.

"I think the majority of players would like to see it pushed back to 2021 so that they can play in front of the atmosphere that they want and the crowds that make the Ryder Cup so special.

"The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup and if they're not on board with it and don't want to play, then there isn't a Ryder Cup.

"I see it being pushed back until 2021 and, honestly, I think that will be the right call."

It's not the only tournament that could yet fall off the 2020 calendar, with the Irish Open, initially due to take place at Mount Juliet this week, as yet without a rescheduled date.

Talks are ongoing on how the Rolex Series event could be reworked into the European Tour calendar but, should it even go ahead, it may lose its biggest name from the field.

"I don't know, I really don't know," McIlroy said on whether or not he would play the event. "I haven't looked past the PGA Tour play-offs in September.

"I've picked a few tournaments to start my season off again and all I have pinpointed for the back end of the year at the minute are the majors. Everything else is really up in the air.

"I would like to see the Irish Open played but I imagine if it was, it would be behind closed doors, so it's not as if the public would get to see the big names compete up close and in person.

"The European Tour events are tougher to call. Every country has its own set of rules and there are so many moving parts. I think that's one we'll just have to wait and see."

Even without a trip to Kilkenny, McIlroy could still return across the Atlantic from his base in Florida, with October providing a potential schedule gap yet to be filled.

"If (the BMW PGA Championship) at Wentworth gets moved to October, then I could see myself going over and playing that event," he said.

"I was just as disappointed as everyone else that The Open got cancelled this year. I think it would have been a good date in September if we were able to play it.

"I wouldn't have concerns (about travelling). We're having to learn to live with the coronavirus and taking the necessary precautions. Washing your hands, sanitising, social distancing - all that stuff - I think if you stick to the guidelines then I don't see any reason why we should feel scared to travel."

McIlroy will return to action when the PGA Tour gets back on track at the Charles Schwab Invitational (June 11-14), beginning a run of three consecutive playing weeks. He will then tee it up at the RBC Heritage tournament and the Travelers Championship.

Belfast Telegraph