Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, a member of three Ryder Cup-winning European sides, believes the international team competition must rank behind the major championships when pro golf resumes after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
McDowell spoke Wednesday on a conference call from his home in Lake Nona, Fla.
Looking ahead to golf’s eventual return, McDowell said, “I think it comes down to prioritizing the schedule. I can’t imagine the jigsaw puzzle that the European Tour, the PGA Tour and the four majors have on their hands before we even start talking about Ryder Cups. It’s a crazy puzzle.
“But, to me, the major championships take priority over the Ryder Cup.”
The PGA Tour shut down March 13, after the first round of the Players Championship. All subsequent events scheduled through mid-May have been postponed or canceled.
The season’s first two majors, The Masters (scheduled for April 9-12 in Augusta, Ga.) and the PGA Championship (scheduled for May 14-17 in San Francisco), have been postponed. The U.S. Open (scheduled for June 18-21 in Mamaroneck, N.Y.) is in jeopardy of being postponed, too, with host course Winged Foot currently shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The men’s Olympic golf competition, scheduled for July 30-Aug. 2 in Saitama, Japan, has been pushed back to next year.
McDowell said the process of qualifying for the U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams adds to the difficulty of keeping the biennial competition on track for the scheduled Sept. 25-27 event at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis.
“If we could be back to playing golf around June, perhaps you could argue that in June, July, August, September we have four solid months (to acquire Ryder Cup points),” McDowell said. “With an adjustment to the qualification processes and maybe of weighting those four months a little higher than we would have, you could pick two teams of 12 that could play at Whistling Straits.
“If that re-injects some adrenaline back into the game, if that is what it is going to need after this off time, then I would be fully supportive of it. …
“It’s really only going to be a viable opportunity if the qualification process properly reflects the 12 best players from each team and we are going to feel good about it. We are going to feel like the two teams are legitimate, and the tournament can stand.”
McDowell, 40, snapped a 3 1/2-year winless streak one year ago this week when he captured the PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. That was his fourth victory on the U.S. circuit.
Last month, he earned his 11th career European Tour title, winning the Saudi International.
McDowell won his lone major championship at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. He was a member of the European Ryder Cup team in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014, playing for the winning side the latter three times. McDowell was a vice captain on the victorious 2018 European side.
–Field Level Media