FORT WORTH, Texas – They are playing a golf tournament this week, starting Thursday at Colonial Country Club.
Even with no spectators, social distancing, face coverings, hand sanitizer, COVID-19 testing and the so-called “bubble ” the PGA Tour attempted to create in the first tournament back after a forced three-month hiatus, this week’s Charles. The Schwab Challenge has a chance to bring some semblance of normalcy back not only to golf, but to sports.
“I think this week is very important because golf will be the center of the sports world,” Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. “For people to have something to watch on TV where they actually don’t know the outcome I think is going to be nice for them.”
Part of that return to normalcy will be the wrestling match between McIlroy and Brooks Koepka for the No. 1 world ranking – which McIlroy possesses at the moment, much to Koepka’s chagrin.
The two have built up a healthy, if slightly contentious, frenemy rivalry in the past year-plus, with Koepka publicly tweaking McIlroy for not having won a major championship since 2014 and McIlroy returning to serve with some of his own barbs. Both players have four major career championships, but Koepka has won all four of his in the past three years, something Koepka has reminded McIlroy about.
One thing the two players agree on is this: If no fans are allowed at the Ryder Cup, then there should be no Ryder Cup played in September, when it is scheduled at the Whistling Straits.
I couldn’t agree more.
Occur one thing to these stages the first four PGA Tour events without spectators. The Ryder Cup is a different animal altogether. Even though it’s still golf, the Ryder Cup is almost a different sport than regular golf. The Ryder Cup is closer to a football game than a PGA Tour event.
Koepka, currently ranked No. 2 behind McIlroy, on Wednesday revealed that he’d consider sitting out the Ryder Cup if he played without spectators.
Koepka, who leads the U.S. The Ryder Cup points list and is a lock to be a part of the team, was asked if he could see any scenario in which a player might boycott the event if the PGA of America opted to proceed with the Ryder Cup without fans.
“Yeah ” he said.
Asked if he might take a pass, Koepka said, “Possibly, ” adding,” as players, I think we all know why playing or why we would play. ”
Money, of course, is that reason.
“It’s the only reason,” said Koepka, rubbing his index finger and thumb together and adding, “Give it to Johnny Football, ” an ode to Johnny Manziel’s signature move.
When McIlroy was asked whether he, like Koepka, would consider not playing, he said he was “pretty sure” the governing bodies “wouldn’t ” conduct a Ryder Cup without fans and that he would not be faced with that decision. .
“Look, I love the Ryder Cup, ‘” McIlroy said. “But I just hope it goes ahead without fans. I think there’s enough people within the game that don’t want the Ryder Cup to happen without fans.That’s why it’s either going to be played this year with fans if we can do that, or going to have a figure out kicking it down the. road to a later date. ”
The Colonial is the first of four PGA Tour events that are played without spectators as sports slowly resurfaces from the forced pandemic pause. The Memorial, to be played in July, is the first event expected to allow fans, but at 20 percent the usual capacity.
“The fans make that event, the fans make that special, ” Koepka said. “The difference is different than any other golf tournament we play. Indeed a true sporting event. If we can have fans, perfect, and if we do, it just kind of looks like an exhibition. ‘
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming: Koepka attempting to chase down McIlroy and that No. 1 ranking.
Beginning with this week, it looks like both players will play the first three of these four spectator-less events. So, game on. Bring it.
“Yeah, you’ve got eyes on Rory, ” Koepka said. “The goal – to get back to No. 1 in the world. Learn the whole point of playing – to be the best. If I do what it’s supposed to do, if I take care of my business, then I don’t see any reason why I get back to that.
“Getting injured [knee] And then when I started back up the first two months back playing, I dug myself a little bit of a hole. But you play good, you win, everything will take care of itself. ”
Even with no fans in attendance to cheer you on.