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34th Ryder Cup Matches postponed until September 2002

Sept. 20, 2001 Update: The 2001 Ryder Cup will be played Sept. 27-29, 2002 at The Belfry in England, then switch permanently to even-numbered years. To accommodate the change, the PGA Tour postponed by one year the Presidents Cup -- previously scheduled for November 2002 in South Africa -- then play those matches in odd-numbered years. U.S. captain Curtis Strange said his players will wear clothing with 2001 logos so "we don't forget why we're playing a year later.")

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., - The 34th Ryder Cup Matches have been postponed until September 2002, officials of The PGA of America and the European Ryder Cup Board have announced. The Matches had been scheduled for Sept. 28-30 at The DeVere Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England.

When the Matches are played next year, they will take place at the Belfry with the same captains - Curtis Strange from the United States and Sam Torrance from Europe - and the same two 12-member teams as were selected to participate next week.

Details regarding tickets and other logistics continue to be worked out, and Ryder Cup officials are asking fans for patience as they move forward with working out the details.

"Given the enormity of the tragedy in America, we informed European officials of our desire to postpone the Matches until next year," said PGA Chief Executive Officer Jim Awtrey. "The scope of last Tuesday's tragedy in America is overwhelming. It is a time to focus on family, both those who have been directly impacted and those closest to us who have been seriously affected.

"The PGA of America is very appreciative of the support and understanding expressed by European Ryder Cup officials. We understand this is a hardship for them to reschedule the Matches next year at The DeVere Belfry, but it was important to us that the Matches be played and not cancelled," Awtrey added. "We will work with our counterparts in Europe over the next year to ensure that the 34th Ryder Cup Matches are played in the spirit in which they were meant."

"The PGA of America has informed The European Ryder Cup Board that the scope of last Tuesday's tragedy is so overwhelming that it would be impossible for the United States Ryder Cup Team and officials to attend the Matches this month," said Mitchell Platts, spokesman for the European Ryder Cup Board. "We have been placed in a position beyond our control and therefore the Matches, out of necessity, have been postponed.

The invitation for the United States Team and officials to attend The 34th Ryder Cup Matches has not been withdrawn but extended," he explained, "We will now start the process of rescheduling the Matches for 2002.

"The tragedy in America caused us all to reflect and evaluate our own lives and relationships with family and friends," said U.S. Captain Curtis Strange. "Our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected by last Tuesday's disaster.

"With regards to this year's Ryder Cup Matches, my concern was always centered on 'the right thing to do,'" Strange added. "The PGA of America's decision to postpone the Matches is very appropriate in light of this situation. I look forward to playing the Matches next year."

The decision to postpone The Ryder Cup Matches this year is one of common sense," said European Captain Sam Torrance. "What happened in America last week has put The Ryder Cup and everything else into perspective.

"I am desperately heartbroken for all the people involved in this terrible tragedy. All I can feel at the moment is an immense sadness," Torrance added. "There will be time enough to talk further about The 34th Ryder Cup Matches taking place next year."

The American team had been scheduled to arrive in Birmingham, England, on Monday, Sept. 24. In the wake of last Tuesday's Events, the American players had agreed among themselves that none would agree to go to England unless all 12 team members concurred.

Over the weekend, Steve Loy, the agent for Phil Mickelson and Mark Calcavecchia, said his clients weren't worried about flying to Britain for the event as much as they were concerned about security at The Belfry.

"To be frank about it, a golf tournament would be an easy place to commit mass murder, no matter how tight the security," Loy told The Sunday Times newspaper in London. "My players want to take part in the Ryder Cup, but they have to put their families first."

Loy's view was supported by Andrew Chandler, who manages Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, all members of the European team.

"There is no way Tiger Woods' safety can be guaranteed against people who don't care about killing themselves," Chandler said. "In the middle of a fairway he's just too vulnerable."

Several players, however, had hoped the Matches would go on. Among them was Colin Montgomerie, though he was quick to say that the American players should have the biggest influence on the final decision.

"We have to respect whatever the Americans decide," Montgomerie said. "They are our closest allies and we should bear in mind that this was not just an attack on America, it was an attack on the free world. Can you imagine how we would feel if this had happened in London?"

Mark James, the captain of Europe's team in 1999, would like to have seen the Matches go ahead, too.

"When something like this happens, the enormity of it is difficult to grasp," James told The Sunday Mirror newspaper. "But with American sport starting again this coming week, I personally think it would be a good thing to go ahead.

If the Matches had been held, Montgomerie said, the atmosphere at The Belfry would have been unreal.

"It would have a very different feel to it. People would not know who to support," he said. "There is understandably so much sympathy for them that spectators would almost be rooting for a draw in every match.

"How could a British or European crowd cheer against America? You can't," he added. "Hopefully now, for the first time in a while, golf would turn out to be a winner."

And as the officials from The PGA and the other governing bodies involved in the Ryder Cup conducted their difficult deliberations over the past several days, several of golf's biggest stars indicated that they would have done anything they could have to help out.

"In all honesty right now, the players are not thinking that much about golf. Their thoughts are with the victims and victims' families," said British agent Guy Tinnings, whose clients include Montgomerie, earlier in the week.

"But if you think about what golf can do - and the Ryder Cup is a huge event - I am certain that all of the players would love to find a way of doing anything they can to help in this situation," he added.

"From listening to the Europeans I have spoken to - and I'm sure it would go for the Americans as well - if there is something they could do that would be helpful, then I know they would all go along with that," he said. "I think they are all just waiting to see what happens."

In the hours after the terrorist attacks that led to the cancellation of events on the PGA Tour for the first time in 52 years, as well as events on the LPGA Tour, the Senior Tour and the Buy.com Tour, emotions were running high.

"You've got to move on," Calcavecchia said Thursday. "If you don't, you're giving in."

He was reminded that only a day before, he suggested that it would be wise to forget about the Ryder Cup for at least a few months.

"If you would have asked me yesterday, I'd probably say that it wouldn't be played," Calcavecchia said. "Ask me again next Monday or Tuesday and you might get a different answer. It's a timing thing. Time heals all wounds, and maybe next week it won't seem so bad. Maybe it will.

"If they play, I'll be there. If they don't, I'll support that, as well."

The Ryder Cup, which began in 1927 and is played every other year, was interrupted for six years during World War II. It has become one of the biggest events in golf, and this year's matches were the most anticipated.

The 1939 Ryder Cup was scheduled for the Ponte Vedra Country Club, just up the coast from the TPC at Sawgrass in Florida. The British PGA sent a message via cable that because of the outbreak of World War II in Europe, it would not be sending a team.

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