The European Ryder Cup captain has explained the change to the captains' agreement for this year


Padraig Harrington has explained the “Covid envelope” that could come into effect at this year’s Ryder Cup, should a player contract the virus and be forced to withdraw. 

An “envelope rule” has been a part of the captains’ agreement at the biennial contest for the last 40 years to cover both teams if one of their players is injured and that rule has now been extended to account for the ongoing disruptions caused by the pandemic. 

“There’s an injury envelope and there’s a Covid envelope, so that’s two separate envelopes at this stage,” Harrington clarified. 

“Maybe the same name is in both envelopes. That’s as far as I’m aware at this moment.”

The envelopes are well guarded and should nobody fall foul of injury or illness, will be destroyed with the name(s) inside remaining a secret.

“The person that goes in the envelope, the captain decides, and nobody ever knows,” the European skipper added. 

“We hope that stays that way. But we’ve had a few injury pull-outs over the year, so it would be just very similar to that. No real difference in how it works. 

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“It is possible that you could have two different names. I don’t see why that would be the case, but you could have somebody pull out with an injury. You could have somebody with Covid.” 

With four players from both sides sitting out each session on days one and two, such a scenario would normally only affect the final-day singles, and Harrington isn’t aware of any plan in place that would account for an outbreak on-site at Whistling Straits this week.

“It’s still not completely clear what happens when we have — if, God forbid, we had a Covid outbreak of a number of players, but for one player it’s pretty straightforward.

“This is why we have the Covid protocols. 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.”