The 1 reason why Tommy Fleetwood says a Ryder Cup should never be played without fans

After a star turn at the 2018 Ryder Cup in which he memorably paired with Francesco Molinari to win all four of their team matches, 30-year-old Tommy Fleetwood is expected to be a European team stalwart for years to come.

But golf fans have had to wait an extra-long time for a chance to see the duo back in action. The 2020 Ryder Cup that was originally scheduled to be played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin last September was rescheduled for September in 2021 in an effort to potentially accommodate fans onsite.

During a recent Zoom chat on behalf of his new brand ambassadorship with Tag Heuer, Fleetwood rationalized his support for postponing the event until fans could be present by thinking about what it would be like for a first-timer to play on a largely empty course.

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“I thought, you could play one Ryder Cup in your life and your experience be like, nobody around,” Fleetwood said. “And I think arguably the biggest part of the Ryder Cup is the fans and the crowd and the interaction you get. There’s 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 people watching the Ryder Cup and there’s four matches on the golf course.

“How many people talk about them standing on the first [shot] of the Ryder Cup and not being able to get the ball on the tee?” Fleetwood continued. “Or tell stories of their first tee experience? Or having their big Ryder Cup moment? I holed a putt on the 16th on Friday morning, which I’ve watched over and over again. And you listen to the noise when that putt goes in and you watch the emotions. And from a player’s perspective, I straight away just thought, and I still do, to be fair, that it’s just not the same. And I feel like it should always be with the fans. And the home fans make such a difference, the support.”

Though Fleetwood acknowledged that he’s glad he isn’t the one tasked with making the final decision regarding attendance, he’s very much in favor of doing whatever needs to be done to get fans onsite.

“I want fans to be there,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is if we’ve missed a Ryder Cup for three years. I really don’t know. But for me, for sure, yeah, I would say, please, let’s have fans at the Ryder Cup. I think that’s only right.”

The 2021 Ryder Cup is currently scheduled to take place at Whistling Straits on September 21-26. According to the Ryder Cup website, all tickets purchased for the 2020 event will remain valid for the rescheduled date.

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As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on