| 8°C Dublin

Faldo words back to haunt organisers

IT really says something when you make Europe's 'Captain Calamity', Nick Faldo, look clever. Faldo won few friends in the Valleys with the prophetic final line of his farewell address at Valhalla two years ago.

Remember? He advised fans intending to travel to this year's Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor to bring their wet gear.

Those words came back to haunt the organisers of the 2010 Ryder Cup with a vengeance yesterday as the folly of staging one of the world's most prestigious outdoor sporting events in October on a lush river bank in South Wales was mercilessly exposed.

Now don't run away with the idea that Sir Nick got his knighthood for his expertise at meteorology. For years the European Tour turned a deaf ear to warnings and, like the captain of the Titanic, pressed on full-steam ahead to Newport.

With eminently predictable results . . . just 118 minutes of action had taken place in the opening fourballs session at the 38th Ryder Cup yesterday when the Twenty-Ten course became so waterlogged, play was not possible for over seven hours.

So, in a desperate effort to complete the Ryder Cup on schedule by tomorrow evening and, the organisers hope, prevent the event from extending into a fourth day for the first time in its 67-year history, a complete revamp of this weekend's playing schedule has been agreed by the European Tour, the PGA of America and both captains, Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin.

In their determination not to undermine the integrity of the event, officials have come up with a convoluted and insanely crowded playing format which still allows for a total of 28 points to be contested by the completion tomorrow (they hope) of all 12 singles matches.

Once the opening fourballs are concluded this morning, the first of three sessions involving all 12 members of the European and US teams will commence.

This second session will comprise six foursomes matches, followed immediately by a third round of six more matches, this time made up of two foursomes and four fourballs.

With no further delays, this third tranche of games should conclude in time tomorrow for the final session of singles matches to get under way before midday. Should bad weather intervene once more, however, the 2010 Ryder Cup will continue into Monday.

Though the number of foursomes and fourballs matches to be played remain the same under this exhausting new format, having to field all 12 of their players in the second session of alternate shot inevitably offers an advantage to Montgomerie's team, who are vastly more experienced at foursomes.

Whether or not Mother Nature forces the event into a fourth day, it's an option that is likely to get far more serious consideration for future years -- especially since the prospects of moving the Ryder Cup forward in the calendar have been stymied by the US PGA Tour's institution of the massively wealthy FedEx Cup series in 2007.

So one should expect the Ryder Cup to head for sunnier southern European climes after Gleneagles (!!!) in 2014.

Montgomerie was prominent among those who warned of potential weather problems in either Britain or Ireland at this time of the year.


Before he took on the captaincy, Monty suggested stretching the event from three to four days might have been a good idea.

Fog held up the start when the Twenty-Ten course staged the Wales Open for the first time in 2008 and the Scot said then: "There's a river here and the temperature between rivers and land causes fog. There could be delays here.

"We have a problem obviously here and we just pray that Him upstairs is good to us."

Asked about whether the match should go to four days beginning on a Thursday rather than a Friday (as the Presidents Cup and Seve Trophy do) Monty commented: "I think everybody benefits. It's an extra day of advertising, an extra day of television. It'd make sense really when you think about it.

"I think it's almost got to that stage where with two rounds a day, we all seem to be rushing around, packing it in, for what reason, really?

"I've been running around changing-rooms in Ryder Cups and trying to get new clothes and stuff and socks and shoes after I've been soaked in the morning and having to do it again in the afternoon. For what reason?"

Irish Independent