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Ryder Cup targets 40,000 fans per day in September

Organisers of the rescheduled Ryder Cup golf tournament have revealed plans to host more than 40,000 people a day at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in September.

Operators of Destination Kohler, home to the Straits golf course and three other highly ranked layouts, said it is hoping for full attendance and full corporate hospitality if the COVID-19 situation improves.

Michael O’Reilly, director of golf operations at Destination Kohler, said on Thursday in a virtual conference with reporters: “The original plan is what we’re with right now (with) 40,000 to 45,000 spectators on site per day. Right now, that’s what we’re planning for. Obviously, the PGA of America and Kohler Company, we’re going to adhere to state and local guidelines and recommendations.”

The Ryder Cup, which is usually a biennial event that sees US players face the best from Europe, had been scheduled for September 2020 but was pushed back to September 24-26 this year due to the pandemic.

O’Reilly added: “There’s a lot of golf tournaments to be played between now and late September, including the PGA Championship, which is in May down at Kiawah (South Carolina).

“We have the opportunity… to learn a lot along the way, and as things change and evolve, for us to pivot. But as of right now, that’s what we’re hoping for, full attendance and full corporate hospitality.”

The PGA Tour restarted play last May after almost two months of no action due to the pandemic. The PGA of America, which conducts the Ryder Cup, was able to play its PGA Championship in August after the restart, but the Ryder Cup was already delayed by then.

In July, PGA of America chief executive Seth Waugh said when postponing the event from 2020: “Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

“It became clear that as of today, our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible.”

Image: Gary Kellner/PGA