Rain forces Ryder organisers to consider contingency plans
Published 01/10/2010 | 12:30
A Monday finish for the first time in the history of the Ryder Cup looms larger after heavy rain forced play to be suspended on the opening morning at Celtic Manor.
Play was halted at 9:45am with Europe ahead in three and down in one of the four fourball matches, but with many parts of the Twenty Ten course at Celtic Manor under water, despite the best efforts of the greenkeeping staff.
There was already standing water on the first fairway before the opening shots were struck at 7:45am, and two more hours of rain - at times torrential - saw large puddles on the greens and bunkers which looked more like lakes than sand traps.
With daylight strictly limited there was a strong chance that the fourballs would not be completed today, never mind the foursomes which were also scheduled.
"We have some spare time on Sunday morning, about four hours as a back up, and we do have Monday as a contingency," European Tour chief referee John Paramor admitted ahead of a noon announcement on the prospects for play.
"The forecast is for the rain finishing early afternoon and we feel and at midday we will have a better idea of when that rain will be through.
"This morning was pretty rough but all the players were keen to get going, so we did. It deteriorated to such an extent that I contacted both captains and said 'What do you think?'
"They both said 'It's your call' and I said I was not happy about continuing play. It had deteriorated to such an extent that it was not really fair."
Speaking before the suspension of play, Europe captain Colin Montgomerie had also conceded: "We don't have much leeway to finish these matches on time."
The opening morning session at Valderrama in southern Spain in 1997 was completely washed out after a thunderstorm, but the course drained superbly and the contest finished on schedule despite Friday and Saturday's play spilling over into the following day.
Europe's players had seemed to be coping better with the conditions with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer two up on Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the first match after five holes.
Westwood, playing his first competitive round since August 6 after a calf injury, birdied the second and saved par from a saturated bunker on the fourth to win that hole as well.
In match two, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy were one up on Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar after four holes, Cink having birdied the second but the home pair winning the first and fourth with par.
Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher were also one up on Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in match three, Woods having got the Americans back level with a birdie on the second but Poulter responding with a long birdie putt on the third.
US captain Corey Pavin had sprung a surprise by putting rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton out in the final match, but Overton responded by holing from off the green at the first for a birdie.
And Watson then birdied the second as well to put the American pair two up on Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington, those two holes taking an hour to complete.
Donald said: "If it was an ordinary event we would not even have started. It's a shame but there is nothing we can do about it. Most of the fairways were all casual (under casual water) and if you had to drop it it would be in the rough."
Westwood hailed the "incredible reception" from the fans on the first tee and added: "It's most disappointing for everyone associated with Celtic Manor and the people of Wales. They've been waiting 10 years and the weather has spoilt it a bit."
With the rain still falling, the announcement about any possible resumption of play was put back an hour until 1pm.