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United States captain Steve Stricker says it would be a "crime" if the Ryder Cup is staged behind closed doors at Whistling Straits in September.

Team USA and Europe are due to do battle for the famous trophy in Wisconsin from September 25-27, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the event in doubt.

Staging the biennial showpiece without spectators has been suggested, but Rory McIlroy is among the players who stated that he would prefer it to be postponed than go ahead with no fans.

Stricker also feels that it is vital the public are allowed to watch the action in his home state.

"This event is made by the fans. If it was without fans, it almost would be a yawner of an event," he told the Golf Affect Radio Show.

"To cheat out the Wisconsin fans would be a crime. I hope when we do have it, it can be up to its full potential."

Stricker expects a decision to be made in the next few weeks.

He added: "So far we're planning it as a go, like we’re going to have it. But there's some obstacles that we're going to have to face, I think.

"The confidence of the people and the corporate people. It's going to come down to probably the safety. And who knows, right?

"They're going to have to make a decision here probably within the next two or three weeks because the build-up to put up all the stands and all the corporate tents, all that kind of stuff, has to happen in June."

Tiger Woods has described the death of George Floyd while in police custody as "a shocking tragedy".

The 15-time major winner joined a long list of high-profile sports stars to speak out on the incident that has sparked protests across the United States and beyond.

Floyd died after being handcuffed in Minneapolis, with a widely shared video showing a police officer kneeling on his neck as he pleaded, "I can't breathe".

It has led to civil unrest in many US cities, with Woods – who underlined his "respect for law enforcement" – urging calm. 

"My heart goes out to George Floyd, his loved ones and all of us who are hurting right now," Woods wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

"I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement. They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line.

"I remember the LA riots and learned that education is the best path forward. We can make our points without burning the very neighbourhoods that we live in.

"I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society."

Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

The face staring down the lens of the camera at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is familiar, and yet almost unrecognisable.

With hair unkempt, eyes lifeless and the beginnings of an uncultivated beard, it is in many ways just another ordinary mugshot.

But the man in the picture is not ordinary, far from it; the man in the picture is Tiger Woods.

It was on May 29, 2017 that Woods reached his nadir, and the world bore witness to it, aghast as the photograph spread rapidly across news sources and social media.

That image, captured after his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, demanded a second look just to make sure you could believe your eyes.

With a countenance that betrayed his inner tumult, Woods' fall from grace was painfully apparent.

The very existence of that mugshot, the fact that such a scenario should ever have transpired, has only become more remarkable with the passage of time.

Had Woods not revived his life and career to such a glorious extent that he was tasting major success again by the time of the 2019 Masters, the image would have served as a stark cautionary tale, a reminder that even great talent and vast wealth cannot shelter someone from the consequences of following their own worst impulses.

It would have plagued him, accompanying stories of further misdemeanours and transgressions to sit alongside his charge for reckless driving, having been found to have had five different drugs in his system at this time of his arrest. 

Instead, that shot of Woods is more of a bizarre curio from an alternate reality he briefly occupied, one which would have led him to somewhere very different from the place he is today.

For as shocking as his decline may have been, the comeback is more apt to take one's breath away. It is harder to climb than it is to fall.

Tiger's ascent back to the peak led to pictures altogether more joyous, the celebrations that greeted the confirmation of his 15th major win captured in images where Woods – two years older than in his mugshot – looks a decade younger.

Woods' Augusta exultation capped an extraordinary return to the top, making an impostor of the man in the mugshot. 

The European Tour will return behind closed doors with the British Masters from Wednesday July 22 and a revised season schedule will run until December.

Action has been suspended since March 8 due to the coronavirus crisis but the British Masters at Close House, hosted by Lee Westwood, will now mark the return of competitive play.

Organisers have confirmed the 2020 campaign will get back under way with six consecutive events held in the United Kingdom, initially without spectators.

A UK swing will include the British Masters, English Open, English Championship, Celtic Classic, Wales Open and UK Championship.

The Celtic Classic and Wales Open will both be played at The Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.

A run of UK events was chosen because "playing in clusters, in one territory, is the best option in terms of testing, travel and accommodation", according to European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley.

Schedules for some events are yet to be finalised but there are expected to be 24 tournaments between July and December.

The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, will conclude the season a month later than initially planned, with that event now running from December 10-13 as a Race to Dubai champion is crowned.

That will be the last of four Rolex Series events confirmed on the calendar, with the Scottish Open and BMW PGA Championship scheduled for October, with the Nedbank Golf Challenge on December 3.

The European Tour also announced the ‘Golf for Good’ initiative to support local charities.

"All tournaments will be subject to stringent safety and testing protocols," read Thursday's announcement from the Tour.

"The 'Golf for Good' initiative will be launched at the new 'UK Swing' in July and August.

"It will culminate in £500,000 being distributed equally between charities local to tournament venues and charities chosen by the leading 10 players in a mini Order of Merit run across the six tournaments."

Pelley added: "Since the suspension of our season, we have taken a measured approach in reassessing our schedule, informed every step of the way by our medical advisers and government guidance.

"We have consistently said that safety is our absolute priority and that is why we are announcing our resumption in two months' time supported by a comprehensive health strategy.

"Without question we have had to think differently about the remainder of our 2020 season which is reflected in the announcement.

"As golf's global Tour, diversity is ordinarily one of our biggest strengths, but in this instance it has become one of our biggest challenges."

Rory McIlroy believes this year's Ryder Cup will be postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 43rd meeting between Europe and the United States is due to begin in late September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

The PGA Tour is currently suspended due to the spread of COVID-19, though the plan is for events to resume in mid-June, initially without fans in attendance.

However, world number one McIlroy is against the idea of staging the traditionally raucous Ryder Cup without fans present, which is why he is expecting the authorities to push back the tournament a year.

"My personal hunch is that I don't see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen," the Northern Irishman told BBC Sport.

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

"The players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup. If they are not on board with it and don't want to play then there is no Ryder Cup.

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

McIlroy is now based in the United States and expects to play the first three PGA Tour events when the season resumes.

Though The Open was cancelled entirely this year, McIlroy would have no qualms about returning to Europe to play in some of the more prestigious events.

"It's a tough one. There are a lot of things up in the air, but if there are some big events in autumn time, then I can," he added.

"Maybe if Wentworth gets moved to October, which they are thinking of, then I could see myself going over and playing that event.

"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 to Europe. I think if you stick to the guidelines then I don't see any reason why we should feel scared to travel."

Luke Donald believes a Ryder Cup held without spectators could give Europe the edge over the United States.

The biennial contest is due to take place at Whistling Straights in Wisconsin from September 25-27 this year.

Golf has largely been at a standstill during the coronavirus pandemic, but the PGA Tour plans to resume its calendar from June 11, although events are almost certain to be behind closed doors.

If the Ryder Cup can go ahead as planned but spectators are unable to attend, Europe vice-captain Donald thinks it could prove to be a disadvantage to the hosts.

Asked if playing without fans present could benefit Europe, former world number one Donald told the Sky Sports Golf podcast: "It certainly could.

"Obviously, for anyone who watched the exhibition match [involving Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady] last weekend and saw some live golf, there were only four players and there wasn't much energy there.

"I think players feed off the energy, especially the home team. They feed off that positive vibe and the crowd can play a big part, that's why it's always an advantage to be at home.

"If we were to play a Ryder Cup without any fans, then being in America it would be more favourable to the Europeans than the US team."

Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning earned bragging rights against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in "The Match", but charity was the real winner.

It was an all-star cast for The Match: Champions for Charity – arranged to raise funds for coronavirus relief efforts – as 15-time major champion Woods teamed up with two-time Super Bowl winner Manning.

Woods and Manning secured a 1up victory over Mickelson and six-time Super Bowl champion Brady in Hobe Sound, Florida on Sunday.

Mickelson and Brady made a late surge on the back nine, but Woods and Manning held on at Medalist Golf Club, where social distancing was front and centre.

More importantly, over $20million was raised to help with COVID-19 relief amid the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc globally.

Bad weather delayed the charity contest by 45 minutes but there was plenty of fun and entertainment once the players teed off, with PGA Tour star Justin Thomas and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley headlining the broadcast.

The star quartet exchanged banter, while Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brady struggled early.

Brady did not look like the NFL's G.O.A.T with a golf club in hand, until holing out for birdie from the fairway at the par-four fifth hole in South Florida.

Team Brady and Mickelson rallied, however, the Woods-Manning pairing were not to be denied.

"It's great, the fact that we all came together and we were able to raise $20million for those that have been so severely affected," said Woods, with the PGA Tour planning to return next month after golf was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis. "This is our arena. This is what we do. We couldn't imagine going out onto the field and doing what they do."

Former NFL quarterback Manning said: "I know Tom and I were kind of comparing notes and feelings to each other. To go behind the ropes in these guys' world and kind of be in the arena with them, it was a really special experience. I was not comfortable the entire time, from the first tee all the way down here."

Mickelson – a five-time major winner – added: "We fought hard. I was a little nervous, a little tight on the front nine. My man kept us in there, and the back nine he really shined. We made a run and came really close."

Is there anything Tom Brady cannot do?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar and six-time NFL Super Bowl champion holed out from the fairway in "The Match" on Sunday.

Featuring in the all-star charity contest – arranged to raise funds for coronavirus relief efforts – alongside Phil Mickelson, Brady had struggled with the golf club against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.

Brady, who swapped the New England Patriots for the Buccaneers via free agency in the offseason, is regarded as the greatest NFL player of all time but he looked human at Medalist Golf Club.

That was until Brady produced an unforgettable moment of magic – holing out for birdie from 100 yards at the par-four fifth hole in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Reigning Super Bowl MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, like many others, was left stunned.

"You got to be kidding!!!!! #TheMatch2," Mahomes wrote on Twitter.

Peyton Manning went one up on Tom Brady with quick-witted jibes before the first tee shot was struck ahead of "The Match".

The start of the all-star charity contest – arranged to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts – in which Manning has teamed up with Tiger Woods to face Brady and Phil Mickelson was delayed due to the wet weather in South Florida on Sunday.

When the quartet took to the range it was Manning who fired an early blow when asked who his caddie might have been if the quartet had someone to carry their bags at Medalist Golf Club.

With Tampa Bay Buccaneers new boy Brady in earshot lining up a practice shot, Manning replied to a reporter: "Do you bring Eli [Manning, his brother]? Could do that.

"Do you bring Nick Foles? Maybe."

Brady turned out and replied: "That's a cheap shot."

Manning was not finished yet, adding: "I was thinking maybe Bill Belichick ... just to see how that kind of would have worked."

Woods, wearing his famous Sunday red, and Mickelson ensured the first hole was halved after their legendary quarterback team-mates were wayward from the tee in the rain with concerns that a storm may be on the way.

May 23 is a date in which Milan earned a measure of Champions League revenge on Liverpool and Ayrton Senna continued his majestic Monaco run.

The Rossoneri became champions of Europe for the seventh time on this day 13 years ago against familiar opponents.

It was also a notable date for Senna, who made history on the street circuit of Monaco, a track no one in Formua One has celebrated success at more.

Here's a look back at the sporting archives from this day in years gone by. 


1981 – Benitez becomes youngest three-weight world champ

Considered one of the best Puerto Rican boxers of all time, the American-born Wilfred Benitez was already the sport's youngest world champion when he won the WBA light-welterweight strap from Antonio Cervantes as a 17-year-old.

A little under three years later he defeated Carlos Palomino to become WBC world welterweight champion.

On May 23, 1981, the brilliant Benitez stepped up a category once again to take on WBC world little-middleweight champion Maurice Hope in Las Vegas.

Still only aged 22, Benitez knocked out Hope with an overhand right to become the youngest three-weight world champion in history.

Benitez was the first man in 43 years to win belts in three divisions and was inducted into boxing's Hall of Fame in 1996.


1993 – Senna makes Monaco history

The legendary Senna mastered Monaco like no other driver has ever managed.

In 1993, the Brazilian great was top of the podium for a fifth straight year – no F1 driver has won as many in succession at a single track – and sixth time overall, which saw him break clear of the record for Monaco wins he held with Graham Hill.

There was some fortune on this particular occasion. Pole-sitter Alain Prost was pinged for a jump-start and had to fight through the field at a track where it is notoriously difficult to pass, while Michael Schumacher was well clear before retiring with hydraulic trouble.

Sadly, Senna was unable to go for a sixth in a row as he tragically died at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.


2007 – Inzaghi helps Milan exorcise Istanbul demons

Two years prior, Milan suffered a Champions League final collapse as Liverpool fought back from a 3-0 half-time deficit in Istanbul to triumph in a penalty shoot-out.

There was to be no Greek tragedy for the Rossoneri in Athens, though, as Carlo Ancelotti's side gained revenge in the 2007 showpiece of Europe's premier competition.

Filippo Inzaghi scored on the stroke of half-time and again eight minutes from the end as the game slipped away from Rafael Benitez's Reds.

Dirk Kuyt scored in the last minute of normal time to give Liverpool hope, but Milan were not to be denied a seventh European crown.

May 22 was a memorable day for fans of Inter and Jose Mourinho.

A decade ago, the Portuguese led the Nerazzurri to a treble by beating Bayern Munich in the 2010 Champions League final.

That was a fine achievement for Italian sport, though the country's rugby union team were certainly not celebrating after being thrashed by New Zealand in the opening game of the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987.

Here we take a look at major events that happened on May 22 in previous years.

 

1987 - The Rugby World Cup arrives

Though the annual Home Nations (now the Six Nations, of course) has been staged in some form since the 1880s, it took over a century for the powers-that-be to form a truly global rugby union tournament.

In 1987, 16 nations headed for New Zealand and Australia for the first ever Rugby World Cup.

The opening game pitted the All Blacks against Italy, with the co-hosts storming to a 70-6 triumph.

In fairness to Italy, New Zealand breezed past most opponents that year, swatting aside Scotland, Wales and France in the knockout rounds en route to lifting the trophy in Auckland.

2003 - PGA Tour test for Sorenstam 

Annika Sorenstam became the first woman to play a PGA Tour event in 58 years in 2003.

Her participation in the Bank of America Colonial was met with strong disapproval from multiple major winner Vijay Singh, though spectators were certainly receptive to the Swede as she carded a one-over 71 in her first round.

Yet a second-round 74 meant Sorenstam missed the cut by four shots.

Speaking afterwards, an emotional Sorenstam said she would not play another PGA Tour event again.

 

2010 - Milito brace gives Mourinho and Inter another trophy

No Italian team had ever won a treble until 2009-10, as Mourinho's Inter won Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

The final trophy in the set was delivered in Madrid, where Diego Milito scored both goals in a 2-0 triumph over Bayern Munich.

Mourinho became the third manager, after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld, to win the European Cup/Champions League with two different teams, having earlier done so in his career with Porto.

He would soon be calling the Spanish capital home too, leaving Inter to take charge of Real Madrid shortly after the final.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) is yet to make a decision on whether spectators will be able to attend this year's U.S. Open.

Winged Foot Golf Club will host the 2020 edition of the major in September, with the coronavirus pandemic having forced a postponement from the original June date.

However, it remains to be seen whether fans will be in attendance at the New York course.

The USGA released a statement on Monday, the same day New York governor Andrew Cuomo urged sports organisations to get things back up and running again.

"We have not made a final determination regarding whether spectators will be able to attend the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club," the USGA statement read.

"Given the realities of the pandemic, we are recreating the entire championship for everyone involved.

"We appreciate and understand everyone's questions and will provide more information as soon as possible."

The USGA also confirmed on Monday that qualifying for the U.S. Open had been cancelled.

Qualifying for this year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot has been cancelled, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced.

The major was originally scheduled for June but was pushed back to September because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just four events remain on the USGA's 2020 calendar, but no qualification events will be held as it "was not seen as a viable option".

The field will instead be determined entirely by exemptions.

"As you can imagine, this was an incredibly difficult decision, as qualifying is a cornerstone of USGA championships," said USGA senior managing director of championships John Bodenhamer.

"We take great pride in the fact that many thousands typically enter to pursue their dream of qualifying for a USGA championship and we deeply regret that they will not have that opportunity this year. But this structure provides the best path forward for us to conduct these championships in 2020."

The tournament is due to take place between September 17-20, with exemption categories expected "in the coming weeks".

Donald Trump responded to Rory McIlroy's vow never to play golf with the United States president again, saying a lot of golfers "like my politics very much and some don't, I guess".

World number one McIlroy last week criticised Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, accusing him of trying to "politicise" the crisis.

"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now," McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast.

"He's trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally, saying that [the US] administers the most tests in the world like it's a contest.

"It's just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's shown that, especially in these times."

McIlroy drew criticism for playing a round with Trump in 2017 at his International Golf Club in Florida but said he would not do so again in the future.

Trump, phoning in to NBC's coverage of a charity TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match that saw McIlroy and Dustin Johnson defeat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, had his say on the comments.

"A lot of them [golfers] are very political, actually. A lot of them like my politics very much and some don't, I guess," he said.

"The ones that don't I don't get to see as much."

There have been 1,527,951 confirmed cases of coronavirus in America, with 90,980 having died after testing positive.

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