By Scott Grayston

With the European Tour schedule postponed until at least the end of July due to COVID-19, it’s difficult to imagine how they are going to recover from losing out on such a huge portion of the season. There’s lots of questions that are near impossible to answer. However, European Tour stalwart Paul McGinley spoke exclusively to Worldwide Golf’s Scott Grayston and has reassured the golfing realm that the Tour are in safe hands. 

“The European Tour will be okay,” says McGinley. “We had a board meeting this morning (Monday) and we are in decent shape compared to most sporting bodies. It’s not an ideal situation but we have a lot of experience on the board and a lot of experience at senior level. The European Tour Chairman is incredibly experienced as well as the Chief Executive Keith Pelley.

“We are guiding our way through it, financially we are going to be okay but the longer it goes on, the tougher it’s going to be. We can’t move until the government allows us to wherever that may be in the world and we also have to have proper testing in place or a vaccine in place. Unless one of these two things happen, it’s going to be very difficult for us to go back as a sport.”

 

Golf is a safe sport

Golf is supposed to be the safest sport to play with golf courses in the UAE reopening recently. There has been talk about the Ryder Cup going ahead behind closed doors in September, this could be the same pattern for the rest of the events this season too.

 

Tournaments played behind closed doors

“All sport in 2020 has to face up to the reality that it’s highly unlikely that governments are going to allow mass gatherings of people so if sports are going to be played and they are going to practice social distancing, they’re going to have to find a way of doing it behind closed doors,” adds the Irishman. “I know the PGA Tour are looking at that initially so they’ve pencilled four tournaments that they are going to play behind closed doors so we will all be watching with interest of how they go on. If people enjoy them, that will open up the opportunity for tournaments later in the year to be played behind closed doors too.

FEATURE: Should the Ryder Cup go ahead behind closed doors? 

 

Benefits of being a non-contact sport

“Ideally we don’t want to have to go down that road because it would ruin what golf stands for but every sport is facing the same issues. We have half a chance with golf because it’s a non-contact sport and we can practice social distancing compared to other contact sports that cannot.”

 

Golf returning in June

“In June when the PGA Tour returns, I think that will be a big test for golf and if they can pull it off for three or four tournaments, where people haven’t exposed themselves and the government has been very supportive of what they’re doing, hopefully other governments might see that as the way forward and open it up to us (The European Tour) as well.”

President Trump backing sport

The PGA Tour has essentially backed President Trump’s desire to have the United States broadly functioning in the face of numerous medical warnings. The Charles Schwab Challenge, at Fort Worth will take place on 11 June, with on-site testing for coronavirus in place and no spectators allowed to attend. Hopefully this goes well and opens up the door for the European Tour.

“Within America you have a very proactive President there who’s trying to open up the lockdown and open up sport,” says the 2014 winning Ryder Cup captain. “Therefore golf is pushing an open door at the moment in terms of getting the support from the government.

DEBATE: Rory v Brooks? Who’s the best?

 

Players in Florida are able to get on course

“The guys in the U.S and living in Florida in particular are able to play golf most days because the courses haven’t closed over there so there’s a big advantage for those guys if we do go back to professional golf again compared to the Europeans.”

 

Three month carnival of golf

With the Ryder Cup, three Majors and the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship scheduled now for the final three months of 2020, it could be the greatest three months of golfing history.

“We’ve got so much golf to be played and so many mini tournaments that could all come in a short space of time,” says the Sky Sports analyst who has been busy working with them recently. “Fingers crossed, that’s going to happen because imagine how good this Autumn would be if they all do go ahead. Hopefully we find some sort of a vaccine because I think that’s the best way that we will have golf tournaments back to what we expect them to be and what they have been in the past.”

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