The U.S. Ryder Cup team’s rain suits left the golfers all wet as downpours forced a suspension of today’s opening matches in Wales.
After players complained that their Sun Mountain brand pants and jackets weren’t performing well, the PGA of America bought new apparel for competitors and caddies in the merchandise tent at the Celtic Manor course near Newport.
“We were disappointed with the performance of them, and you know, we just fixed it,” U.S. team captain Corey Pavin told reporters during a morning rain delay. “They were not doing what we wanted them to do, so we went out and bought some more waterproofs.”
In a statement, Missoula, Montana-based Sun Mountain Inc. said the company has been “designing and selling outerwear for more than two decades,” and has provided rainwear to 3,000-plus PGA of America professionals and over 150 tour players. The company, which also outfitted the 2000 U.S. Walker Cup and 2009 Presidents Cup teams, said it has staff at the event “working on the issue.”
The tan rain suits the U.S. team purchased, made by ProQuip Inc., feature only the Ryder Cup logo. The team’s Sun Mountain suits were emblazoned with U.S.A. letters and players’ last names on the back. ProQuip, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, is the official supplier of the European team’s rain suits.
Julius Mason, a spokesman for the PGA of America, said in a telephone interview that he didn’t know how much the new suits cost. He said Sun Mountain wasn’t an official licensing partner of the PGA and that the choice of the suits was Pavin’s alone.
ProQuip jackets sell for 129 pounds ($204) and pants 69 pounds ($109) inside the merchandise tent. ProQuip representative Gary Firkins said in a telephone interview that the U.S. team was given 25-30 rainsuits and will be billed for them later.
“These were not normal playing conditions,” Firkins said. “It was just a matter of choosing the right waterproofs for extreme conditions. And the European team did that.”
Play began at 7:45 a.m. local time in the rain, with winds of as much as 26 miles per hour (42 kilometer per hour) forecast, according to the U.K. Met Office. The competition resumed after a delay of more than seven hours.
Play was suspended by darkness with none of the first matches finished, and tournament officials said they would change the format of tomorrow’s portion to try to shorten play and complete the event as scheduled on Oct. 3.
The rain was heavy at times, forming puddles on the fairways and greens, with groundskeepers using squeegees on the putting surface, before play was stopped.
“It’s as bad as I’ve ever played in,” U.S. team member Stewart Cink said in an interview with ESPN. “It was awful. It’s a huge challenge for everybody.”
Cink, who has an endorsement agreement with Nike Inc., said the team had no choice but to replace their Sun Mountain rain suits.
“The volume of the rain coming down just inundated our rain gear,” he said. “When it starts to get in your shirt and you start to get cold, you have to do something.”
Following the conclusion of the 2008 matches in Kentucky, then-European captain Nick Faldo warned those traveling to Wales to “bring your waterproofs.”
Tiger Woods, one of four late captain’s picks for the U.S. team, chose not to wear the Sun Mountain rain jacket during early play. Instead, he wore a black long-sleeve shirt under a collared golf shirt and sweater vest. Woods also has an endorsement agreement with Nike.
The U.S. holds the Ryder Cup after winning in 2008, but the Europeans are the bookmakers’ favorite. The Americans haven’t won overseas since 1993.