This weekend should have seen the 43rd Ryder Cup taking place at Whistling Straits.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar eventually led to the postponement of golf's most prestigious team event.

Team Europe, captained by Padraig Harrington, will instead defend the trophy in a year's time against Team USA, who will be skippered by Steve Stricker.

Here, we take a look at who would have qualified for their respective teams so far if the Ryder Cup were starting on Friday.

TEAM USA:

Qualification process explained:

The PGA of America and team captain Stricker announced a tweak to the qualification process following the pause of the season caused by the pandemic. All points collected since 2019 will continue to stand and the selection criteria will continue to run through the second 2021 FedEx Cup playoff event (the BMW Championship). The top six on the points list will qualify automatically, with Stricker having six captain's picks.

1) Dustin Johnson

A veteran of four Ryder Cups but only one that resulted in an American victory – that coming in 2016 at Hazeltine. Since the PGA Tour resumed, Johnson has been in tremendous form and became champion of the lucrative FedEx Cup.

2) Bryson DeChambeau

A man of unquestionable talent, whose methodical game has not always sat well with pundits and fellow professionals. But after breaking his major duck at the U.S. Open last weekend, even his greatest detractors have to give kudos to DeChambeau, who made his Ryder Cup debut in 2018.

3) Collin Morikawa 

It has been a truly breakout year for 23-year-old Morikawa, who became a major champion by winning the US PGA Championship.  That saw him reach a career-high ranking of fifth (he now sits sixth in the world) and if he can maintain his form, Morikawa will be an exciting Ryder Cup rookie.

4) Brooks Koepka

Injuries have sadly taken a toll on Koepka either side of the coronavirus break but on his day the four-time major winner is unbeatable. A fully fit Koepka, who has appeared at two Ryder Cups, will be a formidable foe for anyone on Team Europe and fans the world over will want to see him firing on all cylinders. 

5) Justin Thomas

Already a major champion by the time he appeared at the 2018 Ryder Cup as a rookie, Thomas was a starring light for a struggling American team as he earned four points on debut. Now established among the game's elite, Thomas will be a main man for Stricker as Team USA aim to regain the trophy.

6) Webb Simpson

A player who has enjoyed a career resurgence and made a third Ryder Cup appearance in 2018 having missed out two years prior. Ranked seventh in the world and with a couple of wins to his name in 2020, Simpson looks a pretty sure bet to play regardless of if he qualifies automatically.

Likely captain's picks?

Stricker has an abundance of talent to choose from and, if qualification ended today, Xander Schauffele would be an almost guaranteed pick. Patrick Reed is next in the standings and, while his talent is undoubted, his seeming struggle to play nicely with others in the team would possibly be a cause of concern for the captain. Tiger Woods is way down in 15th and struggling for form but could a player of his calibre earn a lifeline? The likes of Tony Finau, Daniel Berger and Matthew Wolff would hope to receive a call but Jordan Spieth – down in 25th – needs to find some consistency.

TEAM EUROPE:

Qualification process explained:

For Team Europe, the criteria are different. The process was frozen in July until January, with points earned up until that point remaining valid. The top four in the European points standings qualify, as do the next five highest ranking players on the world points list. Captain Padraig Harrington picks the final three players for the team. Points multipliers may be added to European Tour events closer to the Ryder Cup.

1) Tommy Fleetwood

One half of the 'Moliwood' pairing alongside Francesco Molinari that won hearts, and crucially plenty of points, for a dominant Team Europe in 2018. Fleetwood was in fine form towards the back end of 2019 and the start of 2020 but has struggled since golf returned. Still, with plenty of points accrued and time to find form, Fleetwood looks sure to play.

2) Jon Rahm

Rahm picked up a single point from three matches as a rookie two years ago and will be desperate to make a mark in an event where his Spanish compatriots Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia have become so synonymous. With two wins in 2020 and a brief stop as world number one for the first time, Rahm is now a major European player. 

3) Rory McIlroy

A veteran now of five Ryder Cups, four of which ended in victory, McIlroy will be the leading man in Europe's quest to retain the trophy. He was in flying form prior to lockdown and a top 10 at the U.S. Open suggests McIlroy is again on an upward trajectory.

4) Victor Perez

An outstanding rookie season in 2019, including a win at the Alfred Dunhill Links, has left Perez in a strong position. But struggles in 2020 will have to be solved if he is to be a part of Harrington's team a year from now.

5) Tyrrell Hatton

Having earned a taste of the Ryder Cup two years ago, where he won one point from three matches, Hatton will be desperate to make the team once again. With five top-10s in 2020, including winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has every chance of doing so.

6) Danny Willett

Having missed seven cuts from his previous 10 events, Willett is a player who will have to raise his game in 2021 to play at a second Ryder Cup.

7) Matthew Fitzpatrick

A rookie during the losing effort in 2016, Fitzpatrick failed to make the team two years ago. At the minute, the Sheffield-born star has his destiny in his own hands. With three top-10s and as many missed cuts in the past six starts, consistency will be key.

8) Lee Westwood

A real veteran of Team Europe, Lee Westwood played in 10 straight Ryder Cups between 1997 and 2016, ending up on the winning side on seven occasions. Even if he fails to make the automatic spots, if he can stay in decent form then his experience could convince Harrington to hand out a captain's pick.

9) Bernd Wiesberger

A three-time European Tour winner in 2019, Wiesberger – who has never played at a Ryder Cup – will be desperate to rediscover that groove to make the team.

Likely captain's picks?

Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter are well off the pace for automatic picks but if either man can hit form at the right time then their experience would likely be too invaluable for Harrington to ignore. Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson are both knocking on the door and would fancy their chances of making the team without the need of a hand from Harrington.

Patrick Reed is in full support of the decision taken to delay the Ryder Cup, insisting the presence of fans will make it "even sweeter" when the event takes place in 2021.

Due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Ryder Cup organisers announced this week that the 2020 edition will be pushed back 12 months.

The United States will have home advantage next September when Europe travels to defend the trophy at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, with the action unfolding between September 24-26.

While the PGA Tour has returned behind closed doors, Reed believes the Ryder Cup would not be the same if played out without a packed crowd at the course, as their presence brings out the emotion in the players.

The 29-year-old has experienced both sides of the occasion, too. He has lost twice on European soil, including in 2018 at Le Golf National, but was also a member of the USA team that triumphed in 2016 under the captaincy of Davis Love III.

Speaking after his opening round at the Workday Charity Open, Reed said: "I think probably if you asked everybody - captains, assistant captains, players, both organisations - that they're disappointed, obviously, that we're not going to play Ryder Cup this year, but at the end of the day I feel like they made the right call.

"The Ryder Cup is not the same if you have it at 50 per cent fans or if you have it at no fans. The fans are kind of what makes the Ryder Cup.

"You go in there and you - if you're the home team, you have everyone behind you, and if you're away, you want the hostility, you want people to kind of go at you. That's the fun thing about the event.

"So with either cutting fans back or not having them at all, I also don't think you'll get as much emotion out of players, and with that being said, I feel like it just wouldn't be a Ryder Cup.

"I mean, they made the right decision, and it's just going to be even sweeter whenever we're able to play next year."

The Ryder Cup will continue to take place in odd-numbers years in the future, with the 2023 tournament to be held in Italy.

The postponed Ryder Cup must take place in 2021 at Whistling Straits or it will be cancelled altogether, the CEO of the PGA Seth Waugh has said.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that the United States and defending champions Europe will not compete in the prestigious event this September as planned.

Players had expressed reservations about playing the 43rd edition of the competition without fans present and the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic forced the hands of the PGA and European Tour.

However, if circumstances next year mean the Ryder Cup cannot take place in front of spectators on the new dates of September 21-26, then the likelihood is it will scrapped altogether.

Asked what guarantees there were that it can be staged as normal next year, Waugh told reporters: "None, frankly.

"We think that this is the right thing to do. I would bet on science is what I would say, personally, about the ability to figure out treatments, vacancies or protocols or safety given we have 15 months to do that.

"But there frankly is no guarantee. I certainly wouldn't have thought on March 1 - certainly January 1 - that we'd be having this conversation right now.

"I think this is the best possible decision. Frankly if we do get to this time next year and we can't responsibly hold it, it likely will result in a cancellation at that point.

"I don't think we can perpetually roll things forward, that's not fair to the game, that's not fair to the Presidents Cup or anyone else. We're hopeful that we will hold it but all bets are off in terms of what's going on in the world.

"If I were a betting man, I would bet on science to figure out how to truly reopen the world in 15 months' time."

Waugh said he spoke to American captain Steve Stricker and Europe skipper Padraig Harrington on Tuesday evening and feels the decision has their backing.

"I think they were relieved, happy," he added.

"Steve, on his side, absolutely wants to have it – obviously it's a home game for him, in Wisconsin, he wants to have it in the way he's always dreamed of and it wasn't going to look like that.

"Padraig, I think, different perspective, he's just worried about the safety of everybody travelling here and how difficult that would be.

"I think they're disappointed that we're not able to do it because they build their tempos and those that are qualifying are excited about it, but I think there's relief in the certainty of knowing where we stand."

Jon Rahm declared it to be the "smart choice" to delay the 2020 Ryder Cup, insisting the event would simply not be the same if fans were not able to attend.

Whistling Straits in Wisconsin was due to host this year's battle between the United States and Europe in September, but the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic has led to a change in the schedule.

Instead, the next Ryder Cup will take place between September 24-26 in 2021, a move Rahm fully endorses as it will allow spectators to be present at the course.

The Spaniard made his debut in the competition two years ago, securing a point from his three matches as the European team regained the trophy at Le Golf National in France.

"I mean, I'm not shocked," Rahm told the media ahead of playing in this week's Workday Charity Open on the PGA Tour.

"I know a lot of people probably wanted to watch the Ryder Cup, but the Ryder Cup is not the Ryder Cup without spectators.  

"Right now, it doesn't seem like there's a legitimate way to make it safe for everybody, so I think it's the smart choice."

Rahm also outlined the importance of the Ryder Cup is in terms of growing the sport of golf, even if that means having to wait a little longer to experience it again.

"At the end of the day, the Ryder Cup is one of the most viewed events, sporting events in the world, so it's something that brings a lot of attention for the game of golf," he added.

"It's something that grows the game of golf throughout the world. I think it's important that it's done and it's performed and we play the way the Ryder Cup is supposed to be.  

"I'm sad we're not playing this year because I really wanted to play and I think it would have been cool to go from a U.S. Open to a Ryder Cup, but at the same time, it needs to be run the way it's supposed to be run.  

"I think it's a good decision to change it to next year."

The delay has led to a change in the long-term schedule, as the Ryder Cup will take place moving forwards in odd-numbers years. Therefore, the next staging on European soil will be in 2023.

There is also a change to the Presidents Cup, with the 2021 edition at Quail Hollow pushed back to September 2022.

The Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits has been rescheduled to take place in 2021, organisers have confirmed, with the Presidents Cup moving to 2022.

Doubts have persisted about the feasibility of staging the Ryder Cup since the outbreak of coronavirus and on Wednesday a decision was finally taken to push it back a year. 

In a statement, organisers confirmed that the decision "was based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in conjunction with the state of Wisconsin and Sheboygan County, with the health and well-being of all involved as the top priority". 

Playing the event without fans had been mooted as an option, but instead it is now set to be held on September 21-26 next year with crowds present. 

The knock-on effect means the next edition of the competition in Europe, when Italy plays host, will move back to 2023 as it retains its biennial scheduling. 

The Presidents Cup, which was due to start on September 30 next year at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, will now move to September 19-25, 2022. 

Next year's Wells Fargo Championship will return to Quail Hollow Club but move to TPC Potomac for 2022 to accommodate the Presidents Cup. 

"Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits," said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh.

"It became clear that as of today, our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible.

"Given that uncertainty, we knew rescheduling was the right call. As disappointing as this is, our mandate to do all we can to safeguard public health is what matters most.

"The spectators who support both the U.S. and European sides are what make the Ryder Cup such a unique and compelling event and playing without them was not a realistic option."

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: "With the uncertainty of the current climate, we fully support the Ryder Cup's decision to delay a year in order to ensure fans could be a part of the incredible atmosphere in Wisconsin.

"And the delay of next year's Presidents Cup was the right decision in order to allow for that option." 

US Team captain Steve Stricker said postponing the Ryder Cup was "the right thing to do under the circumstances".

He added: "At the end of the day, we want to stage a Ryder Cup that will rival all other Ryder Cups in my home state of Wisconsin, and now we have the opportunity to showcase the event as it was meant to be seen."  

European counterpart Padraig Harrington said: "Rescheduling the Ryder Cup was never going to be an easy decision given the many factors to take into consideration.

"But I believe it is the right assessment given the unprecedented circumstances we are facing at this time. 

"When you think of the Ryder Cup you think of the distinctive atmosphere generated by the spectators, such as around the first tee at Le Golf National two years ago.

"If that cannot be responsibly recreated at Whistling Straits in September, then it is correct that we all wait until it can be. 

"I know, right now, that September 2021 feels like a long time away. But it will come around quickly and I guarantee that the European players and I will be ready when it does."

There have been more than 32,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, according to the state's Department of Health Services. 

In total, there have been nearly 3.1million positive tests in the United States, with more than 134,000 deaths among those known to have contracted the virus.

The Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits has been rescheduled to take place in 2021, organisers have confirmed, with the Presidents Cup moving to 2022.

Steve Stricker will make six captain's picks for the United States' Ryder Cup team in an indication the event is set to go ahead.

The PGA Tour is due to resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge this week after an enforced three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the fate of the Ryder Cup – which is scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits between September 25 and 28 – has yet to be confirmed.

USA captain Stricker said last week it would be a "crime" if fans were unable to attend and that the absence of spectators could lead to a "yawner" of an event.

New selection criteria were announced for Team USA on Wednesday, though, with Stricker's choices being bumped up from four to six.

Only one major tournament, the US PGA Championship, will count towards automatic qualification, while points will be accrued through to the BMW Championship at the end of August.

"With all the various changes to the 2020 schedule, it quickly became apparent that we would need to amend our selection criteria," Stricker said via a widely reported PGA of America release.

"After many deliberate discussions, we collectively agreed that a smaller sampling of 2020 events – including just one major championship – would justify a one-week extension of the qualification window and an increase in the number of captain's selections from four to six.

"These changes were sparked by circumstance but conceived with integrity in mind. In the end, we believe they will allow us to put our best team together to compete at Whistling Straits in September."

The Ryder Cup is one of the few sporting events in 2020 that remains on the calendar on its original date.

However, there are major doubts as to whether the contest – scheduled for September – will go ahead amid fears over coronavirus.

A decision has yet to be made, but one possibility is that Whistling Straits will play host to the competition behind closed doors.

It is a topic that has divided opinion, so should the Ryder Cup go ahead without spectators?

Stats Perform News duo Russell Greaves and Peter Hanson have their say...

 

THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON – GREAVES

Having had the privilege of attending the previous Ryder Cup, I can attest to how much value the fans add to the experience.

And the golfers themselves say as much too – the encouragement of the crowd, and maybe even the occasional jibe, can make all the difference.

Sport is not just about the technical brilliance of its stars, it is about the context in which those protagonists ply their trade and the drama that golf provides at this level is unmatched.

A golfer standing over a putt to win a point, waiting for the noise to die down, gathering his emotions as the assembled masses hold their collective breath... that's what makes this event so special.

Remove the action from that context and you have something less enthralling, less special, less meaningful. Do not devalue this great competition. The show must not go on.


THE RYDER CUP CAN OFFER POSITIVITY AMID THE GLOOM – HANSON

Let's make this abundantly clear from the start: Everyone wants fans in attendance at the Ryder Cup.

No one could coherently argue golf's most famous and spine-tingling team competition would be better with the absence of spectators. The energy, noise and usually good-natured jibing from the galleries is what makes the Ryder Cup one of the greatest spectacles in sport.

But we find ourselves living in unprecedented times. The likelihood of having members of the public through the gates at Whistling Straits diminishes by the day.

If the competition can be held safely, with every precaution taken to protect everyone involved – not just the players, then it should go ahead.

The Ryder Cup can offer positivity amid the gloom. A chance for escapism from a harsh reality, a chance for a semblance of normality, a chance for the world's best to entertain sports-starved fans watching on from the comfort of their homes. 

It is far from the ideal situation, but it is the situation we find ourselves in. The show must go on.


WHAT THE PROS SAID

"This event is made by the fans. If it was without fans, it almost would be a yawner of an event. To cheat out the Wisconsin fans would be a crime," USA captain Steve Stricker told the Golf Affect Radio Show.

"Everyone wants fans to be there, but the question is does sport need the Ryder Cup and should the Ryder Cup take one for the team? It wouldn't be in the Ryder Cup's best interests, but it could be in the best interests of enough people who want to see a big sporting occasion on TV," Europe captain Padraig Harrington speaking to The Times.

"I get the financial implications for everyone involved but having a Ryder Cup without fans, it's not a Ryder Cup. I would much rather them delay it until 2021 to play the Ryder Cup than play it at Whistling Straits without fans," world number one Rory McIlroy said during an Instagram Live with TaylorMade.

"I personally don't want to play if there's no fans. I don't see a point in playing it," Brooks Koepka told Golf Channel.

"I'm not saying 'postpone it' if there's no fans. I want to make that team and if I do, and we have to play it behind closed doors, I'm going to embrace it 100 per cent," Ian Poulter told Sky Sports.

"A Ryder Cup without the spectators is just not a Ryder Cup. It's the one tournament of the year where we're not playing for ourselves, we're playing for Europe, we're playing for the United States, and it's for the fans," Jon Rahm told Sky Sports.

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."

Davis Love III and Zach Johnson have been named vice-captains of the United States Ryder Cup team.

Two-time captain Love and Johnson join Jim Furyk on skipper Steve Stricker's team for the biennial event, which is due to be staged at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from September 25-27.

Love captained the USA against Europe for a second time in 2016, with the hosts regaining the famous trophy at Hazeltine.

Johnson was also a vice-captain at Le Golf National two years ago, when Europe secured a resounding victory.

Stricker will name additional deputies at a later date, although doubts continue to be raised over whether the competition will go ahead amid the coronavirus crisis.

Captain Stricker said of his latest appointments: "With the Ryder Cup it's important to surround yourself with quality individuals who you can lean on and who have the best interests of the team in mind."

"Jim [Furyk] and I have talked about this a lot in the last year and now we are happy to add two Ryder Cup veterans in Zach and Davis to the conversation with the goal of putting this team in a prime position to win. Both Zach and Davis share a passion to compete at the highest level and are strong communicators, which is important, especially when we’re in the heat of competition."

Love said: "Steve has been such a consistent presence on this team, both as a player and as a vice-captain, and now it's his time to lead.

"He has a terrific vision for what he wants our U.S. team to not only accomplish, but represent, all year long. I'm confident in the program he has in place and am anxious to get to work."

Johnson stressed the importance of the USA making home advantage count in a Ryder Cup that could be staged without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: "It's always an honour to be part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. In a domestic Ryder Cup, it's important to defend 'our turf', and to do so on behalf of Steve - in his home state at Whistling Straits - is a great opportunity for our team to make a statement."

Thomas Bjorn, the 2018 Ryder Cup-winning captain, has been appointed to the board of the European Tour.

The Dane takes up a position as a non-executive director with immediate effect after being nominated by the Tour's tournament committee.

Bjorn previously served as chairman of the tournament committee from 2007 until 2016 before resigning to focus on duties as captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team, who he led to an emphatic victory at Le Golf National in September 2018.

During his time as chairman, Bjorn helped oversee the transition from the Order of Merit to the Race to Dubai in 2009 and the introduction of the lucrative Rolex Series, the premium events on the European Tour, in 2014.

"I am delighted and honoured to be invited to join the board of the European Tour," Bjorn told the Tour's official website.

"I have lived and breathed the European Tour for the past 25 years and, in that time, I have always strived to do the best I could to progress both the Tour itself and its membership. 

"The same will be the case on the board and I am looking forward to getting to work as soon as possible."

Bjorn qualified for the European Tour in 1996 – he was named Rookie of the Year – and has been part of three successful Ryder Cup teams as a player and a further three as a vice-captain prior to his crowning moment in Paris.

He also won 15 times on the European Tour between 1996 and 2013.

Chairman David Williams added: "I'm delighted to welcome Thomas to our European Tour board. 

"His stellar golfing career is well documented, including his 2018 experience as a winning Ryder Cup Captain. He has always had our members' interests at heart, and he will continue to do so on our board."

Ryder Cup captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington have issued an open letter paying tribute to those "on the front line" of the fight against coronavirus.

The biennial tournament is one of the few major sporting events this year still scheduled to go ahead on its original date, with Wisconsin's Whistling Straits the host venue in September.

But Team USA skipper Stricker and European counterpart Harrington recognise the world has very different priorities as COVID-19 continues to claim lives across the planet.

On Tuesday, the duo published a letter in which they heaped praise on healthcare professionals and other key workers who are leading the battle against the virus and its wider societal impact.

"When Europe takes on the United States in the Ryder Cup it is always fiercely contested but it is just golf. It is not a matter of life and death," the letter read. "Fighting coronavirus is.

"As Ryder Cup Captains, we proudly represent all the players, caddies, staff and partners of the European Tour and PGA of America and we speak on behalf of every single one of them when we say that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected.

"We also speak for them when we say that we are all moved by the incredible determination, passion and spirit we are witnessing from our health professionals, key workers and everyone else on the front line in this battle. We are all indebted to the incredible work they are all doing.

"Last week, some of the world's leading golfers featured in a social media video thanking our heroes. We want to take this opportunity to reiterate our sincere gratitude to all of you once more.

"For them, we urge everyone to please stay safe, stay healthy and stay home. And stay united."

The Ryder Cup should not be held this year if it reaches a stage where captains choose all 12 players and fans are unable to attend, according to Chris DiMarco.

Golf's calendar has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic with the PGA and European Tours suspended, while the Masters and US PGA Championship have been postponed.

It appears certain the U.S. Open and The Open will follow suit and the Ryder Cup, scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits between September 25-27, is also under threat.

This week, Europe captain Padraig Harrington insisted the biennial competition should go ahead if it is safe even if it meant he had to pick his entire team.

DiMarco twice represented the United States in golf's most prestigious team event, ensuring his qualification for the team in 2004 with a runner-up showing at the US PGA Championship, which coincidentally was also hosted at Whistling Straits.

And DiMarco believes points should be retained and carried over to a qualification process for a Ryder Cup taking place in 2021.

"No, I don't think that either," DiMarco told Stats Perform when asked if the event should proceed even if the captains had to choose all 12 players.

"[For me], the most important thing at the 2004 US PGA was to make that Ryder Cup team. 

"I just think if it gets cancelled this year and they play it in 2021, the points should just continue for another year and just keep it continuing, nobody can pick this year and then just go as if it was a three-year qualification. 

"That's the fairest for everybody and I think that way the guys who have played great get to keep their points and it still gives guys a chance to make that team. 

"I think the eight players who qualify and the four captain's picks, that's the way it should be."

Harrington has also advocated playing the Ryder Cup behind closed doors if it is deemed unsafe for spectators to attend.

However, DiMarco feels having fans in attendance is crucial, not least because it gives the home side an advantage.

"I don't think the Ryder Cup should be played without fans, I think it's a disservice," added DiMarco, who also played for USA in 2006. 

"I get the other tournaments, I guess you can say it is what it is. But it wouldn't be fair to the home team the fact they wouldn't be allowed to have fans. 

"So, I think as big as the Ryder Cup is the fans are as big a part of that as anything. Yes, it's 24 players and the captains and the co-captains and all that and they can go out and do it, but without those roars you hear around the course it just wouldn't be the same. I think it's the one thing [in golf] – [American] football is the same, you can't watch a football game without fans you just can't do it. 

"The Ryder Cup has to have its fans there, when it's on home turf you have to have that home-field advantage and the fans are that home-field advantage. 

"If it comes to that point where they say there won't be any fans I don't think it should be played."

When the 2010s began, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka had a combined major tally of zero.

Tiger Woods boasted 14 but was weathering the storm of a very public scandal and about to endure a barren spell almost as remarkable as his reign of dominance.

The holders of golf's four most prestigious titles were Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and YE Yang.

Meanwhile, the Ryder Cup resided in the United States, claimed in dominant fashion against Nick Faldo's beleaguered European side at Valhalla. 

Reflecting now on the 11 majors shared by McIlroy, Spieth and Koepka; the stunning return to glory enjoyed by Woods at the 2019 Masters; the relative obscurity of Cabrera, Glover, Cink and Yang; and Europe winning four of the past five Ryder Cups, it becomes apparent just how drastically the golfing landscape has changed.

It ought to be enough to warn anyone off making predictions for the 10 years ahead, but Omnisport's golf experts Russell Greaves and Peter Hanson have gone ahead and done it anyway.

 

CAN TIGER CATCH JACK?

The facts: Woods' victory at Augusta earned him a fifth green jacket and 15th major, leaving him three behind Jack Nicklaus.

RG: This is one of the longest-running debates in sport, up there with the Messi-Ronaldo argument in football.

I suspect in both cases I will take a different view from my colleague (it's Messi, hands down), as I'm of the opinion that Tiger's long pursuit of Nicklaus' haul of 18 majors will prove in vain. He spent most of the 2010s in decline and has left it too late to pull out of that nosedive.

In mid-May 2024 he will hit a significant landmark in becoming older than the oldest major winner in history – the 1968 US PGA Championship victor Julius Boros, who was 48 years, four months and 18 days old. Time is against Tiger and even he doesn't have a club in the bag to fashion a way out of the hazard that is old age. 

PH: Not unlike the Messi-Ronaldo debate (for which Ronaldo is the obvious answer), this discussion has become a little weary and repetitive in recent years.

But here's the thing, we're not discussing your average athlete. This isn't a mere a golfing mortal. Tiger Woods is a once-in-a-generation talent, one who had been consistently written off before his glorious Augusta triumph in April. Such an achievement did admittedly appear beyond him.

Never again should we make the mistake of saying a target is beyond Woods' reach. Time may be against him but if any player is capable of winning a major in their fifties it's Tiger. Simply, Woods can achieve the unthinkable over the next decade.

RORY'S GLORY DAYS OVER?

The facts: McIlroy won his fourth major in 2014 but has not tasted victory since.

RG: It speaks volumes of McIlroy's quality that people look upon his CV – featuring four major wins and 95 weeks at the summit of the world rankings – and consider him to have underachieved.

It is a compliment and insult all at once; an emphatic underlining of how high expectations are, and also a crude dismissal of his already lofty achievements.

But in the decade to come, McIlroy will enjoy a resurgence in majors and cement his place among the all-time greats. 

PH: When McIlroy won major number four, and a second US PGA Championship, at Valhalla in August 2014, you would have been laughed at hysterically for suggesting he would not win another before the close of the decade.

And yet, for one reason or another, it has not quite clicked for McIlroy since. There have been near misses, plenty of 'what ifs' and no shortage of frustrations. We have seen a much more serene McIlroy over the past few years and you do wonder if some of the edge that made him such a formidable talent is gone.

Still, McIlroy is a phenomenal competitor. It is hard to imagine he will not again be a major winner over the next 10 years. But you sense it may be a return of six or seven career majors rather than the double-digit tally many previously predicted.

WHO WILL ENJOY RYDER CUP SUPREMACY?

The facts: Team Europe have claimed eight of the previous 10 Ryder Cups and won the 2018 edition by seven points.

RG: Thomas Bjorn's Europe produced a superb performance to win the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, but do not expect to see similar scenes again any time soon.

That result in France represented a shock that is not likely to be repeated. Team USA boast far greater strength in depth and how much longer can the likes of Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter continue to defy their relatively lowly ranking to deliver the goods on this stage?

If the USA lacked anything in 2018, it was the sense of togetherness so evident within the hosts, but with that lesson now learned the harsh way they will be raring to go at Whistling Straits and in the tournaments to come this decade, three of which will be Stateside. 

PH: Every time we reach a Ryder Cup it seems as though Europe are written off before a ball has even been struck off a tee. And yet, last year, it was again the Americans preparing for an ugly post-mortem.

There is something about this glorious competition that stirs a response in the Europeans that the Americans just simply cannot seem to replicate – or certainly not on the same consistent basis.

Sure, the likes of Garcia and Poulter are nearing the end of their famous journeys, but the heroics of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood in Paris - coupled with the fact the likes of Justin Rose, McIlroy and Jon Rahm have plenty of golf left in them - means there remains a strong nucleus. Home or away, Europe will still have the upper hand when it comes to the Ryder Cup in the 2020s.

AMERICA v REST OF THE WORLD: WHO WILL WIN THE MOST MAJORS?

The facts: Three of the four majors are held by Americans. The most recent US clean sweep was in 1982, while 1994 was the last year that no American won one. In the 2010s, it finished America 21-19 rest of the world. 

RG: There will be another American lockout of the majors in the coming decade, quite probably more than one. It has been a close call in the previous two years and the past eight majors in the US have been won by home hopes.

Consider the five most recent non-Americans who spoiled the party – Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry – what odds on any of those repeating the feat? I'll accept Molinari as a 50-50 but wouldn't back any of the others.

With Brooks Koepka (more on him later) such a keen collector of majors, Tiger still prowling (I said he wouldn't get to 18, but I fancy him for another Masters title), Patrick Reed a likely repeat winner, Dustin Johnson surely destined to win another and Justin Thomas a shoo-in, I see a lot of silverware finding its home in the United States.

PH: The Ryder Cup is one thing but the majors are a completely different animal and in that regard the Americans are locked in to dominate.

In each of the previous three years, the United States were missing just once victor to complete a sweep and I just feel it is a feat that is guaranteed to be achieved at some stage in the next decade.

There is enough talent in McIlroy, Rahm, Fleetwood and Rose to keep things close but, I have to agree with Russ here, the strength in depth possessed by America means there is only one outcome to this question.

 

CAN KOEPKA KEEP UP THE PACE?

The facts: Koepka triumphed four times in eight major outings from the 2017 U.S. Open to the 2019 US PGA Championship, while by the end of the latter year his record showed a T6, T4, T2 and outright second-placed finish across the sport's quartet of headline events.

RG: It would be fascinating to see anyone make the case for Koepka failing to add to his impressive major haul, and it's not something I'm willing to attempt.

The guy is a stone-cold winner when it comes to the big tournaments and nothing about him – from his technical brilliance to his mental toughness – suggests he will go off the rails.

He is one victory away from tying with the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Phil Mickelson, and two away from Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino – he will surpass them all.

PH: I have to start my answer here with a caveat. You will not find a bigger Brooks Koepka fanboy in the world than me. I simply love the guy. He is someone who is just unashamedly himself and why would you not be with the success he has had?

What is remarkable is the way Koepka came from relative obscurity to become the best in the world. While McIlroy, Spieth, Thomas and countless others were making claims to be the dominant force, Koepka – who cut his teeth on the European Tour, a rarity for an American – came up on the rails to steal a march on more well-known and, some would argue, marketable names.

But that chip on the shoulder is what I admire most about him and what makes him so difficult to beat. At this stage, I genuinely believe it is just a question of how many majors he will win. I don't think it is a stretch in any way to say he will have at least 10 in 2029.

WHO WILL BE THE FIRST-TIME MAJOR WINNERS?

The facts: There are 40 majors in any given decade and in the 2010s there were 25 first-time winners.

RG: As the numbers above suggest, there is a lot of scope for maiden major winners in the space of 10 years, but let's pick out four who are pretty much nailed on. 

Tony Finau has got everything required to join the club and I'm confident his compatriot Rickie Fowler will finally get off the mark too.

On the European side, Jon Rahm will follow in the footsteps of fellow Spaniards Seve and Sergio, while Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood is also a safe bet.

PH: This is always a fun question and one where you can look like the fount of all knowledge or end up with egg splattered all over your face.

Continuing a theme of predicted American dominance, I think the most obvious candidate to break their duck is Xander Schauffele, a man who has four top-five finishes and another inside the top 10 to his name.

Compatriot Patrick Cantlay is another I expect to see win one of golf's big four, while Bryson DeChambeau and Finau are outside bets. Rahm has all the makings of a major winner too, I just hope it doesn't take him as long as it did Sergio to become one. I also see Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick becoming Open champions.

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