Rory McIlroy believes this year's Ryder Cup will be postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 43rd meeting between Europe and the United States is due to begin in late September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

The PGA Tour is currently suspended due to the spread of COVID-19, though the plan is for events to resume in mid-June, initially without fans in attendance.

However, world number one McIlroy is against the idea of staging the traditionally raucous Ryder Cup without fans present, which is why he is expecting the authorities to push back the tournament a year.

"My personal hunch is that I don't see how it is going to happen, so I do not think that it will happen," the Northern Irishman told BBC Sport.

"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 players are the ones that make the Ryder Cup. If they are not on board with it and don't want to play then there is no Ryder Cup.

"I see it being pushed back until 2021 and, honestly, I think that will be the right call."

McIlroy is now based in the United States and expects to play the first three PGA Tour events when the season resumes.

Though The Open was cancelled entirely this year, McIlroy would have no qualms about returning to Europe to play in some of the more prestigious events.

"It's a tough one. There are a lot of things up in the air, but if there are some big events in autumn time, then I can," he added.

"Maybe if Wentworth gets moved to October, which they are thinking of, then I could see myself going over and playing that event.

"I was just as disappointed as everyone else that The Open got cancelled this year. I think it would have been a good date in September if we were able to play it.

"I wouldn't have concerns about travelling to Europe. I think if you stick to the guidelines then I don't see any reason why we should feel scared to travel."

Luke Donald believes a Ryder Cup held without spectators could give Europe the edge over the United States.

The biennial contest is due to take place at Whistling Straights in Wisconsin from September 25-27 this year.

Golf has largely been at a standstill during the coronavirus pandemic, but the PGA Tour plans to resume its calendar from June 11, although events are almost certain to be behind closed doors.

If the Ryder Cup can go ahead as planned but spectators are unable to attend, Europe vice-captain Donald thinks it could prove to be a disadvantage to the hosts.

Asked if playing without fans present could benefit Europe, former world number one Donald told the Sky Sports Golf podcast: "It certainly could.

"Obviously, for anyone who watched the exhibition match [involving Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady] last weekend and saw some live golf, there were only four players and there wasn't much energy there.

"I think players feed off the energy, especially the home team. They feed off that positive vibe and the crowd can play a big part, that's why it's always an advantage to be at home.

"If we were to play a Ryder Cup without any fans, then being in America it would be more favourable to the Europeans than the US team."

May 22 was a memorable day for fans of Inter and Jose Mourinho.

A decade ago, the Portuguese led the Nerazzurri to a treble by beating Bayern Munich in the 2010 Champions League final.

That was a fine achievement for Italian sport, though the country's rugby union team were certainly not celebrating after being thrashed by New Zealand in the opening game of the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987.

Here we take a look at major events that happened on May 22 in previous years.

 

1987 - The Rugby World Cup arrives

Though the annual Home Nations (now the Six Nations, of course) has been staged in some form since the 1880s, it took over a century for the powers-that-be to form a truly global rugby union tournament.

In 1987, 16 nations headed for New Zealand and Australia for the first ever Rugby World Cup.

The opening game pitted the All Blacks against Italy, with the co-hosts storming to a 70-6 triumph.

In fairness to Italy, New Zealand breezed past most opponents that year, swatting aside Scotland, Wales and France in the knockout rounds en route to lifting the trophy in Auckland.

2003 - PGA Tour test for Sorenstam 

Annika Sorenstam became the first woman to play a PGA Tour event in 58 years in 2003.

Her participation in the Bank of America Colonial was met with strong disapproval from multiple major winner Vijay Singh, though spectators were certainly receptive to the Swede as she carded a one-over 71 in her first round.

Yet a second-round 74 meant Sorenstam missed the cut by four shots.

Speaking afterwards, an emotional Sorenstam said she would not play another PGA Tour event again.

 

2010 - Milito brace gives Mourinho and Inter another trophy

No Italian team had ever won a treble until 2009-10, as Mourinho's Inter won Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.

The final trophy in the set was delivered in Madrid, where Diego Milito scored both goals in a 2-0 triumph over Bayern Munich.

Mourinho became the third manager, after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld, to win the European Cup/Champions League with two different teams, having earlier done so in his career with Porto.

He would soon be calling the Spanish capital home too, leaving Inter to take charge of Real Madrid shortly after the final.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) is yet to make a decision on whether spectators will be able to attend this year's U.S. Open.

Winged Foot Golf Club will host the 2020 edition of the major in September, with the coronavirus pandemic having forced a postponement from the original June date.

However, it remains to be seen whether fans will be in attendance at the New York course.

The USGA released a statement on Monday, the same day New York governor Andrew Cuomo urged sports organisations to get things back up and running again.

"We have not made a final determination regarding whether spectators will be able to attend the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club," the USGA statement read.

"Given the realities of the pandemic, we are recreating the entire championship for everyone involved.

"We appreciate and understand everyone's questions and will provide more information as soon as possible."

The USGA also confirmed on Monday that qualifying for the U.S. Open had been cancelled.

Qualifying for this year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot has been cancelled, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced.

The major was originally scheduled for June but was pushed back to September because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just four events remain on the USGA's 2020 calendar, but no qualification events will be held as it "was not seen as a viable option".

The field will instead be determined entirely by exemptions.

"As you can imagine, this was an incredibly difficult decision, as qualifying is a cornerstone of USGA championships," said USGA senior managing director of championships John Bodenhamer.

"We take great pride in the fact that many thousands typically enter to pursue their dream of qualifying for a USGA championship and we deeply regret that they will not have that opportunity this year. But this structure provides the best path forward for us to conduct these championships in 2020."

The tournament is due to take place between September 17-20, with exemption categories expected "in the coming weeks".

Donald Trump responded to Rory McIlroy's vow never to play golf with the United States president again, saying a lot of golfers "like my politics very much and some don't, I guess".

World number one McIlroy last week criticised Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, accusing him of trying to "politicise" the crisis.

"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now," McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast.

"He's trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally, saying that [the US] administers the most tests in the world like it's a contest.

"It's just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's shown that, especially in these times."

McIlroy drew criticism for playing a round with Trump in 2017 at his International Golf Club in Florida but said he would not do so again in the future.

Trump, phoning in to NBC's coverage of a charity TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match that saw McIlroy and Dustin Johnson defeat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff, had his say on the comments.

"A lot of them [golfers] are very political, actually. A lot of them like my politics very much and some don't, I guess," he said.

"The ones that don't I don't get to see as much."

There have been 1,527,951 confirmed cases of coronavirus in America, with 90,980 having died after testing positive.

World number one Rory McIlroy was glad to be back in action, albeit in a charity match alongside Dustin Johnson.

McIlroy and Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match, raising more than $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

But McIlroy was simply happy to be back playing, with the PGA Tour season set to restart next month.

"It was good, it was nice to feel it again. It's only been nine weeks since The Players [Championship], it feels much longer than that," the Northern Irishman said, via the PGA Tour.

"Obviously we just went through a very unprecedented time. We're used to feeling like that week in and week out, so to be at home for these few weeks and not feel that, it was nice to get back out here.

"It's a different setting than what we're used to, but to get the competitive juices going again, it was nice to feel it."

McIlroy has announced he plans to play the first three tournaments back, beginning with the Charles Schwab Challenge starting June 11.

United States president Donald Trump wants to see "big crowds" at the rescheduled Masters.

The 2020 Masters was moved from April to November due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 316,000 people worldwide.

Trump is hoping Augusta can welcome plenty of fans, despite the United States being hit hard by COVID-19.

"We want to get it back to where it was. We want big, big stadiums loaded with people," Trump told NBC on Sunday.

"We want to have, when you have the Masters, we want to have big crowds. Right now, that's not what they're planning, but you never know.

"Things can happen very quickly."

Trump was speaking as Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match, raising over $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

The USA has more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, with its death toll exceeding 90,900.

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief skins match as live golf made its return to TV, raising over $5.5million for coronavirus relief.

Golf has been on hiatus since the PGA and European Tours were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, though the plan is for the season to restart in June.

In the meantime, McIlroy/Johnson and Fowler/Wolff went head-to-head all in the name of charity in Florida on Sunday.

No caddies were allowed at the historic Seminole Golf Club, where all players carried their own bags in the behind-closed-doors event.

A play-off was needed after 18 holes, with $1.1m unclaimed heading into the sudden death closest-to-the-pin challenge.

McIlroy secured the remaining money with a wedge at the 17th, pushing the world number one and Johnson to $1.85m and past Fowler/Wolff's $1.15m.

The American Nurses Foundation benefited from McIlroy and Johnson, while Fowler and Wolff played for the CDC Foundation.

The season is set to resume with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas on June 11-14.

Rory McIlroy has criticised president Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

World number one McIlroy accused Trump of trying to "politicise" the crisis, with 1,460,989 confirmed cases in America and 87,025 people having died after receiving a positive test for coronavirus. 

McIlroy previously defended his decision to play golf with the controversial president in 2017 at his International Golf Club in Florida.

"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now," McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast.

"He's trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally, saying that [the US] administers the most tests in the world like it's a contest.

"It's just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's shown that, especially in these times."

Speaking about his previous round with Trump, McIlroy said it was an experience he enjoyed but not one he expects to have again.

"I don't know if he'd want to play with me again after what I just said," he continued.

"I know it's very self-serving of me to say 'no' and, if I don't, then it means then I'm not putting myself in position to be put under scrutiny and that I'm avoiding that. But I probably wouldn't, no.

"The day that I did spend with him and others was very enjoyable. He is very charismatic and was nice to everyone. He obviously has something, or he wouldn't be in the White House.

"That doesn't mean I agree with everything - or, in fact, anything - that he says."

 

 

Brooks Koepka would have been gearing up for a US PGA Championship three-peat this week.

Based on the form he hit at majors from 2017 to 2019, it's not too far-fetched to suggest a global pandemic is one of the very few things that could have prevented him from achieving the feat.

His is a curious CV. Of the seven wins at PGA Tour-sanctioned tournaments to his name, four have been major triumphs.

This is a man who cuts to the chase, in deeds and in words.

Speaking ahead of his US PGA Championship defence at Bethpage Black last year, Koepka declared: "I think sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win."

Nobody says that. It's doubtful anyone even thinks that, Koepka included, but he went ahead and said it anyway.

Delivering that line, absent any irony, spoke as much to the American's strengths as any crunching drive he has ever hit, or nerveless put he has sunk.

It shone a light on his mental fortitude, a character trait forged by the fierce heat of his own burning desire to have his achievements recognised.

You see, for all his relentless brilliance at his last 10 major outings – he added four top-six finishes alongside his quartet of wins – Koepka has never been elevated to the kind of stardom enjoyed some of his less successful contemporaries.

Dustin Johnson, who won his first and to date only major a year before Koepka got off the mark, boasts a higher profile and greater name recognition beyond the sport, as does Jordan Spieth, who hasn't won a major since 2017 and now resides 56th in the world rankings.

He can't match Rory McIlroy's global appeal, and as for competing with Tiger Woods for the spotlight, forget it.

That he has not been extended an invitation to join the golfing glitterati is a curious snub, but one that appears to have served him well, instilling in Koepka a hunger that has fuelled his voracious appetite for success.

Without it, he would be neither the man nor golfer he is today.

And if any of his rivals hoped a flurry of landmark victories would sate his craving for silverware, they gravely underestimated the extent of his ambition.

Asked in the aftermath of his win at Bethpage how many majors he might accumulate, Koepka replied: "Double digits, easy! I don't see why I can't get to double digits."

Well, they are the easiest ones to win.

Davis Love III and Zach Johnson have been named vice-captains of the United States Ryder Cup team.

Two-time captain Love and Johnson join Jim Furyk on skipper Steve Stricker's team for the biennial event, which is due to be staged at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from September 25-27.

Love captained the USA against Europe for a second time in 2016, with the hosts regaining the famous trophy at Hazeltine.

Johnson was also a vice-captain at Le Golf National two years ago, when Europe secured a resounding victory.

Stricker will name additional deputies at a later date, although doubts continue to be raised over whether the competition will go ahead amid the coronavirus crisis.

Captain Stricker said of his latest appointments: "With the Ryder Cup it's important to surround yourself with quality individuals who you can lean on and who have the best interests of the team in mind."

"Jim [Furyk] and I have talked about this a lot in the last year and now we are happy to add two Ryder Cup veterans in Zach and Davis to the conversation with the goal of putting this team in a prime position to win. Both Zach and Davis share a passion to compete at the highest level and are strong communicators, which is important, especially when we’re in the heat of competition."

Love said: "Steve has been such a consistent presence on this team, both as a player and as a vice-captain, and now it's his time to lead.

"He has a terrific vision for what he wants our U.S. team to not only accomplish, but represent, all year long. I'm confident in the program he has in place and am anxious to get to work."

Johnson stressed the importance of the USA making home advantage count in a Ryder Cup that could be staged without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: "It's always an honour to be part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. In a domestic Ryder Cup, it's important to defend 'our turf', and to do so on behalf of Steve - in his home state at Whistling Straits - is a great opportunity for our team to make a statement."

Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning's charity match against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady will be held at Medalist Golf Club in Florida on May 24.

The venue and date were confirmed on Thursday as the golfing and NFL greats do battle to raise funds for COVID-19 relief.

WarnerMedia and the golfers are donating $10million towards the cause, a statement said on Thursday.

Woods/Manning will take on Mickelson/Brady in a team matchplay with a four-ball format on the front nine and modified alternate shot format on the back nine, with the event sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unimaginable tragedy and heartbreak," WarnerMedia news and sports chairman Jeff Zucker said.

"We're hopeful this event and platform will help raise meaningful funding for COVID-19 relief, while also providing a source of brief distraction and entertainment for all sports fans."

All players will have open mics throughout the event, which comes with most sports around the world brought to a standstill by coronavirus.

There have been more than 270,200 deaths from COVID-19.

Mickelson and Woods previously faced off in a match in November 2018, when the former won on the fourth play-off hole.

Seve Ballesteros, who died on May 7, 2011, was a singular talent.

Playing a sport not universally loved, he somehow had a universal appeal.

He was a great entertainer. His passion and charisma lent him an aura few can match.

Ballesteros' gift was apparent from an early age, the young Spaniard showing his creative flare by hitting pebbles with a wood-shafted three-iron on a beach near his home.

It is little wonder he would go on to become arguably golf's most inventive player, able to execute shots most could not even envisage.

Flamboyant and swashbuckling, Ballesteros had a style all his own, with Tiger Woods lauding his genius.

"Seve was one of the most talented and exciting golfers to ever play the game," Woods said in a tribute shortly after Ballesteros died of brain cancer.

"His creativity and inventiveness on the golf course may never be surpassed."

That craft and guile served him so well that Ballesteros became a serial winner, with 90 titles to his name, including five majors.

His influence on the European Tour, on which he won a record 50 tournaments, cannot be overstated.

Players today owe him a huge debt of gratitude, with Ballesteros popularising the sport across the continent and beyond, becoming the first European to win the Masters when he triumphed at Augusta in 1980.

Europe itself, as a sporting entity in the Ryder Cup, meant a great deal to him, and Ballesteros was a talismanic figure for his team.

From 37 matches he claimed 22.5 points and is widely regarded as Europe's most iconic team member, leading them to victory as captain in his home nation in 1997.

His presence is still felt in modern editions, with 2012 captain and close friend Jose Maria Olazabal citing Ballesteros' influence on Team Europe's stunning comeback win at Medinah.

Crying as he spoke, Olazabal said: "Our team played in the spirit of Seve without ever giving up. You believed and you delivered and I'm proud that you have kept Europe's hand on this Ryder Cup."

Ballesteros' was diagnosed with a brain tumour after collapsing at Madrid airport in 2008. He underwent three operations over more than 20 hours. A spell in intensive care and multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed, all helping to extend his life while simultaneously sapping at his energy.

He passed away nine years ago, at the age of 54, and the world of golf lost its brightest star. 

Wednesday marked the 66th anniversary of Roger Bannister's fabled sub four-minute mile.

Although sporting records are always there to be broken, some best marks will forever hold a special place.

Here, we look at some of the competitors whose defining performances will continue to echo through the ages.

 

ROGER BANNISTER

Helped by two pacemakers, Bannister thrilled crowds at Iffley Road, Oxford by clocking 3:59.4 for his four laps of the cinder track.

The record lasted only 46 days before Australia's John Landy shaved more than a second off Bannister's mark, while Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj is the current men's mile record holder with 3:43.13. But Bannister's name will always be associated with the distance more than any other.

NADIA COMANECI

Elite stars at the top of their sports will often contend there is no such thing as perfection in competition, although the great Comaneci can always beg to differ.

As a 14-year-old at the 1976 Olympics, the Romanian superstar became the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 for her performance on the uneven bars. She went on to achieve the same mark six more times in becoming the youngest all-around Olympic gold medallist.

BOB BEAMON

Before the long jump final at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, no man had jumped beyond 28 feet. American favourite Beamon broke through that barrier and the 29-foot mark for good measure with a truly remarkable leap.

Beamon's 8.90 metres remained a world record until Mike Powell hit 8.95m during his titanic tussle with Carl Lewis at the 1991 World Championships.

JIM HINES

Another United States track and field star to revel amid the altitude of Mexico City in 1968 was sprinter Hines.

He took gold in the 100m final with a time of 9.95 seconds, making him the first man to dip below 10 seconds without illegal wind assistance.

PELE

Three World Cup wins as the shining star of Brazil's prolonged golden era mean Pele does not need statistics to burnish his considerable legend.

And yet, at the Maracana on November 19, 1969, the 29-year-old Pele slotted home a 78th-minute penalty for Santos against Vasco da Gama for his 1,000th career goal. Even allowing for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's phenomenal exploits, it is hard to envisage anyone ever matching the 'milesimo'.

ARSENAL

Arsene Wenger invited widespread derision in 2002 when he suggested it was possible for his Arsenal team to go a whole Premier League campaign unbeaten. The season after, they did just that.

Preston North End had their own "Invincibles" back in 1888-89, although the First Division season was a mere 18 games long in those Victorian times. Formidable Manchester City and Liverpool sides falling short of Arsenal's unbeaten exploits in recent seasons have only underlined the scale of the achievement Wenger masterminded.

BRIAN LARA

West Indies great Lara made the biggest individual score in Test history when he plundered a mammoth 375 versus England in 1994 – a record that stood until October 2003, when Australia opener Matthew Hayden hit a merciless 380 at Zimbabwe's expense.

Back at St John's against the same opponent as in his initial exploits, Lara took the record back into his ownership a mere 185 days after Hayden's heroics, bringing up 400 not out for the first quadruple century in cricket's longest format.

AL GEIBERGER

Golf's modern era is increasingly littered with players hitting hot streaks and low scores but going below 60 for a round still holds considerable allure.

It was a different time in 1977 when Geiberger became the first player to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour, illuminating the second round of the Memphis Classic at Colonial Country Club. No one managed the feat again on a major tour for 14 years.

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