Ryder Cup: Delay to 2021 ‘best way forward’ says ex-Europe skipper Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke has been at his holiday home in the Bahamas since mid March
Darren Clarke plans to resume competitive golf on the Champions Tour in August

Darren Clarke says postponing this year’s Ryder Cup would be a “good decision” because the event “cannot be the same without fans”.

“A Ryder Cup without fans is not really a Ryder Cup,” Clarke told BBC Sport NI.

“I think a postponement would probably be the best way forward and make it bigger and better than ever next year.”

In recent days, there has been increasing speculation that this year’s event will be put back to next year although there is yet to be any official announcement.

‘Guys revel in Ryder Cup atmosphere’

The 2011 Open champion thinks a postponement is the best solution for the good of the competition even though he believes a behind closed doors event at Whistling Straits could benefit Padraig Harrington’s Europe side.

“To play it behind closed doors maybe would be a slight advantage to the European team because the Americans wouldn’t have their home support, which counts for a lot,” added the 51-year-old Northern Irishman.

“But the guys revel in the atmosphere. The whole atmosphere buzzes around the golf course and that’s a hugely important part of the Ryder Cup.”

Clarke has been home alone at his holiday residence in the Bahamas for the majority of the time since 14 March with his wife Alison unable to join him because of the global pandemic.

His son Tyrone, whose school is in Florida, was able to link up with him on the island of Abaco 10 days ago but Alison and his other son Conor remain in Northern Ireland.

“Alison was with me the week before that (14 March) when I was playing in California but she had to go home to take care of her business and do some things.

“Then all borders got shut so quickly that I couldn’t get Alison and Conor here.”

Darren Clarke in action at last year's Irish Open at Lahinch
Clarke’s Champions Tour commitments in the US mean he is set to miss the Irish Open for the first time in his professional career

‘I want to get back to my job’

The Dungannon native hopes to resume competitive golf when the Champions Tour for players aged 50 and over resumes in Ohio in the middle of August.

“I will have to leave here on 27 July and go to America self-isolate for a couple of weeks and then get ready for that.”

The return of the PGA Tour has seen a number of players and caddies have to pull out of events after testing positive for coronavirus but Clarke says he is keen to “get back doing my job” despite natural concerns over the situation – particularly in the US.

“I will try and do everything I possibly can be following all the protocols to avoid catching the virus. We just have to be careful and just hope for the best.”

His Champions Tour commitments mean Clarke is almost certain to miss the Irish Open for the first time in his professional career in the autumn because of the difficulties involved in travelling back and forth between Europe and the US at the moment because of the pandemic.

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