The U.S. will try to hold on to its advantage over Europe as the opening fourball matches resumed this morning at golf’s Ryder Cup, which had a rain delay of more than seven hours yesterday and faces more wet weather tomorrow.
The American team staged a comeback after the long delay at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales. Partly cloudy conditions are expected today, with periods of light rain late in the day. Sunday’s forecast calls for periods of rain, some heavy, according to weather.com.
The delay yesterday led to a schedule change as officials try to end the competition on time. The second session, which will begin today after the completion of the resumed matches, will feature six contests instead of the usual four.
“It’s going to be tough going, especially with the ground so heavy,” Europe’s Rory McIlroy told reporters yesterday. “All 12 guys are going to play tomorrow, so I think that stamina is going to be a factor.”
Play was halted at 7 p.m. local time yesterday and restated at 8 a.m. today. The U.S. leads in two matches, with the Europeans ahead in one and the fourth all square. The Americans were trailing in three of the four before the delay.
“It was a tough day, starting with the weather,” U.S. captain Corey Pavin told reporters. “I’m pleased with the way the U.S. team came back and performed this afternoon. I’m very proud of the guys.”
The opening four-ball match between Americans Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson and Europe’s Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer is through 12 holes, with the Americans trailing by a hole. The two-man teams are playing their own balls, with the lowest score winning the hole.
Cink and Kuchar
Americans Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar are two holes up on McIlroy and Graeme McDowell after 11 holes, while Ryder Cup rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton of the United States lead Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington by one after eight holes.
“This will ebb and flow for the next two days and you’ll see 20 minutes of good from Europe and 20 minutes of good from the USA,” European captain Colin Montgomerie told reporters. “I always said this was going to be close, and I don’t think anything less right now.”
Play began on time yesterday at 7:45 a.m. in the rain, which became heavy at times. Puddles formed on fairways and greens, with groundskeepers using squeegees on the putting surface, forcing a halt to play at 9:45.
Cink sunk three long birdies over five holes after resumption to move his team into the lead. Mickelson made three straight birdies to pull his team within one hole, while Donald’s eighth-hole birdie cut the U.S. lead to one in their match.
Officials, in consultation with Pavin and Montgomerie, modified the schedule for the final two days to try to avoid a Monday finish for the first time in the competition’s 83-year history.
The teams will play six foursomes, or alternating shots, today after the completion of the opening-round matches. In the next session, scheduled to begin tomorrow morning, they’ll play two foursomes and four fourballs, followed by the final session in the afternoon featuring all 12 players on each side playing singles, weather permitting.
“We felt we must do everything we can to finish the Ryder Cup on Sunday, the chosen day, while maintaining the integrity of the match,” George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, said in a news conference. “This all depends on the sky and whether the rain comes back again.”
‘Through to Monday’
“If it does rain here on Sunday, if we lose another hour of play, well, that’s it,” Montgomerie said. “We are through to Monday.”
The U.S. holds the Ryder Cup after winning in 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky. The Americans, who haven’t won overseas since 1993, need 14 of a possible 28 points to keep the trophy, while the Europeans need 14 1/2 to take it back.
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