Tour regroups with new cup dates

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The Independent Online

The postponed Ryder Cup match will, as expected, now take place at The Belfry on 27-29 September next year. As well as announcing the new date, the European Tour has confirmed that after talks with the PGA of America and the US Tour, at least the following three matches will go back a year to 2004, 2006 and 2008.

The new date became the obvious one as the previous week all the players involved are scheduled to be at Mount Juliet in Ireland for the American Express World Championship, the event which was cancelled in St Louis last week in the immediate aftermath of the events in New York and Washington.

The Ryder Cup may have been postponed for a year but the world's best golfers return to their normal business today on both sides of the Atlantic. The USPGA Tour resumes with the Pennsylvania Classic at Laurel Valley, only 12 miles from the crash site of one of the hijacked planes. A seven-minute ceremony at midday will include renditions of the national anthem, 'God Bless America' and a moment's silence.

Play will also be interrupted at midday at St Nom-la-Bretêche during the first round of the Lancôme Trophy for a one-minute silence. Four of the European Ryder Cup team are here, Colin Montgomerie, Sergio Garcia, Phillip Price and Niclas Fasth. Thomas Bjorn withdrew because of a shoulder injury picked up two weeks ago.

There was a moment on Tuesday when the tournament was in doubt. Lancôme, who have sponsored the event for 31 years, would have liked to have pulled out of the event as a consequence of the terrorist attack on America but the promoters, the International Management Group, persuaded them that such a decision could not be taken at such late notice without putting the whole future of the tournament in jeopardy.

It was even considered changing the name of the event back to its original title, the Champions' Trophy, harking back to when Arnold Palmer helped to popularise the game in France. Tiger Woods was due to appear this week but decided last Friday it was not the time to be playing overseas. Eventually, the sponsors decided that they would simply withdraw their hospitality programme at the tournament.

While the Ryder Cup is certainly not business as usual – pitting as it does nation against continent and deemed inappropriate at the moment, even in a watered-down form – returning to the Tour is the golfers equivalent of getting on with life, done as it is with heavy hearts.

"Having made the effort to be here, and it was a big effort to travel at this time, we have to get on with it," said Montgomerie. "Sport has started again in America and we must follow suit. There will be a very different atmosphere, but then there is at any event around the world, sporting or otherwise. We are competitive people and we have to make the most of it." The mood was a sombre one, he added. "There is a lot less laughter. There is less joviality over dinner. It has taken over everyone's life. We are all quite flat and it will take a number of weeks and months to get back to the way we were."

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