Friday, October 01, 2010

NEWPORT, Wales -- The weather's fine, for going to the cinema. Cameron's-blog-umbrellas Nick Faldo's final words as Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup captain were to "bring your waterproofs" to the 2010 Cup at Celtic Manor, and so far that's been sound advice.
Two hours after the opening foursome of Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood vs. Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson teed off in the rain Friday, play was suspended due to unplayable conditions (standing water) at 9:45 a.m. local time. It's the first suspension of play in the Ryder Cup since 1997 at Valderrama.
Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls as long as they were in the fairways, and course officials tried to disperse the water with squeegees, but finally the deluge became too much.
Rain fell on Celtic Manor all night and morning, and the course is waterlogged. Even the locals are appalled at the conditions, which have put a damper on an event they've been anticipating for years. The 38th Ryder Cup, the first to be held in Wales, was awarded Sept. 28, 2001.
Julius Mason, spokesman for the PGA of America, confirmed to the AP that the American team was not happy with their Sun Mountain rain suits and an official visited the merchandise tent to purchase enough new ProQuip suits for players and their caddies. The old suits had each player's name and "USA" emblazoned on the jackets; the new ones will only have a Ryder Cup logo.
The news that the U.S. team's uniforms were not keeping out water spread quickly across the grounds, and Europe's Rory McIlroy tweeted that the Europeans, contrary to the Americans, were quite pleased with the performance of their foul-weather gear.
Stewart Cink, the most prolific tweeter on the stars and stripes, might also have tweeted something about the wardrobe malfunction but for U.S. captain Corey Pavin's ban on using Twitter this week.
"Well, we were disappointed with the performance of them, and you know, we just fixed it," Pavin said. "They were not doing what we wanted them to do, so we went out and bought some more waterproofs."
Players occupied themselves by eating, sleeping and competing against one another in video games.
"Obviously the weather is not so nice now, but I mean, I would have loved to keep playing, you know, because that's our weather," said Martin Kaymer. "It's the European weather." 
Officials planned to give an update on the course of action for the rest of Friday whenever the steady rain finally lets up, but a Monday finish is looking possible if not likely.
The surprise of the first two hours came from American rookies Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson in the final match. Overton birdied the first hole, and Watson the second, and they lead heavily favored Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington 2 up through two holes. (Leaderboard.)
Europe leads the other three matches.
In the lead match, Lee Westwood and Kaymer are 1 under while Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson are 1-over, and Europe leads 2 up through five holes.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and McIlroy have needed only four pars to take a 1-up lead over Matt Kuchar and Stewart Cink through four.
Tiger Woods, playing with Steve Stricker, birdied the par-5 second hole to square their match against Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter, but Poulter made birdie 2 at the third to give Europe a 1-up lead through three. 
Fans woke up to a steady rain Friday and in some cases wondered if they should leave their hotels. Play was called shortly after many of them made their way off shuttles and onto the course, but the weather forecast was calling for gradual clearing by late Friday afternoon.
Saturday is the most promising weather-wise, and possibly the only promising day. The forecast calls for possible morning fog, then variable clouds, breezy with possible evening showers.
Sunday's forecast is calling for showers throughout the day, ending in the afternoon. Monday is expected to be cloudy and cool.
Meanwhile, 2010 PGA Tour winners Arjun Atwal and Bill Haas are among the six players who shot 66 Thursday to lead the Viking Classic, the Tour's Fall Series event in Madison, Miss. The weather report from the Viking: two of the longer par-5s played downwind. This, one year after the tournament was canceled due to rain.
Fans at Celtic Manor hope no such thing is in store for the 2010 Ryder Cup. Photos: Robert Beck/SI

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