While an official determination about the 2020 Ryder Cup hasn't been made, Rory McIlroy won't be surprised if tournament organizers push the event back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My personal hunch is that I don't see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen," McIlroy said to BBC Sport Northern Ireland. "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 Ryder Cup is scheduled to tee off Sept. 25 at Whistling Straits. Sports are slowly returning—albeit without fans—and the PGA Tour said it's hopeful of resuming play June 8 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Golf is one sport that wouldn't be impacted too much by staging tournaments without fans because of how much the gallery is restricted from making noise.
Because it's a team format, the Ryder Cup is an exception. Pitting the United States against Europe lends itself to creating a larger sense of partisanship among those in attendance. People who otherwise might not root for a specific golfer become more invested if he's representing a collective squad.
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said in April that a Ryder Cup behind closed doors was a possibility but that nothing had been finalized. Days later, McIlroy indicated he'd prefer postponing the tournament rather than playing without its usual fanfare.
The NFL regular season is scheduled to kick off Sept. 10. Troy Vincent, the league's executive vice president of football operations, said last week the NFL is operating under the belief it will have fans in stadiums this fall until medical experts suggest otherwise.
Perhaps it could be business as usual for the Ryder Cup, but the logistical issues for both fans and organizers put a priority on prudence. Proactively pushing it to 2021 might be the best route for all involved.