SHEYBOYGAN, Wis. — There’s a plan in place in the event a player contracts COVID-19 and is unable to play in singles Sunday at the Ryder Cup — and it is being called the “COVID Envelope.”
Following similar Ryder Cup rules in case of an injury, each captain prior to the Sunday singles pairings will secretly put the names of three of his team’s players in an envelope in case someone from the other side is unable to play due to a positive COVID-19 test.
That player or players would then be held out of singles play, and each side would be awarded a half point for that match. There are 12 singles matches on Sunday.
European captain Padraig Harrington suggested there would be a separate envelope in the event of an injury.
“There’s an injury envelope and there’s a COVID envelope, so that’s two separate envelopes at this stage,” Harrington said. “Maybe the same name is in both envelopes. That’s as far as I’m aware at this moment.
“It’s not like it’s an individual event, whereas if you lost a player in an individual event, while it’s not great, certainly you don’t want to be catching COVID, but in a team environment you don’t want the number of people catching COVID because it affects the actual match.
“This is certainly something that I’m sure that is causing a lot of thought and a lot of time thinking about what would be too many and what would be sustainable. But again, it’s not really for the captains. It’s more for the running of the event.”
The PGA of America said all players were tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and has announced no positive cases. It then announced the COVID procedures as put forth in the captain’s agreement. There are no alternates for the Ryder Cup, although a captain can add a player if there is an injury prior to the start of competition on Friday.
Once play begins, only eight of the 12 players compete in any one session, with all 12 in singles on Sunday.
If there were an injury or COVID situation prior to the start of one of the team matches, a player could be replaced with one of those who was scheduled not to compete.
The envelope is something that became part of the Ryder Cup when the format was expanded to include all of Europe in 1979, and it has rarely been used. The last time it occurred was at the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, where American Lanny Wadkins volunteered to have his name put aside. When Europe’s Sam Torrance could not go due a foot injury, Wadkins sat out and both teams were awarded a half point. The U.S. won 15-13, the last American victory overseas.