A small Covid-19 eruption at the Ryder Cup would be handled by a special clause in the captains' agreement but organizers said that a major outbreak's impact would be decided by the PGA of America and the European Tour.
Covid-19 delayed the event by one year and saw the virus clause inserted into the captains' agreement between American Steve Stricker and Europe's Padraig Harrington.
The biennial team golf matches, which start tomorrow at Whistling Straits, feature Covid-19 envelopes from each team with the names of three players who could be forced to sit out if rivals must withdraw after testing positive for the virus.
The Covid envelope follows the pattern of having an envelope for final-day singles matches with the name of a player who must sit if a rival is ill or injured.
"Just like an injury name in the envelope, there's a Covid name in the envelope," Harrington said. "While we've asked, it's still not completely clear what happens if, God forbid, we had a Covid outbreak of a number of players ... you start losing a few players to Covid, it does affect the match in some way."
With foursomes and four-ball matches in the first two days not requiring full squads, substitutes would be available from those not playing. But in singles, all team members must play.
A few hours after Harrington raised the issue, organizers issued a clarification of Covid protocols. "In terms of multiple players testing positive, from one or both teams ... the exact details of the scenario would be assessed by both organizations in order to determine its impact on the overall playing of the Ryder Cup," organizers said.
The Covid-19 substitution policy covers any players who must withdraw from the Cup after a positive test for the virus.
Players, caddies and support personnel are tested before leaving for the venue and upon arrival. Any player who has a test come back positive, even while playing a match, "is immediately ineligible."
Harrington said the "detailed and complicated issue" of coping with an outbreak "is possibly above the pay grade of the two captains. This is why we have the Covid protocols."