Deluge hits Celtic Manor, suspends play
NEWPORT, Wales – Noah probably didn’t have to survive a deluge like the one that hit Celtic Manor on the opening day of the 38th Ryder Cup.
Forty-five-thousand fans turned up for a golf match and a swimming gala broke out.
Rivers already were running down fairways before play started. Greens were under water. Greenskeepers tried to keep play going by using squeegees on greens to brush off the water. Bunkers looked like water hazards. It was carnage.
After two hours and two minutes of a war of attrition, common sense finally prevailed and play was suspended at 9:47 a.m. local time.
“The skill level is almost taken out of it,” said Darren Clarke, a European vice captain. “It’s almost a bit of luck now.”
Somewhere Nick Faldo was smiling. His advice to “bring your waterproofs” to Wales turned out to be the smartest thing the previous European Ryder Cup captain said at the last Ryder Cup.
“Faldo was right,” said Chubby Chandler, manager to Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy. “It’s going to be a long week.”
It sure is. The wisdom of holding the Ryder Cup during the first week of October in Wales looks like utter folly now. There was always a likely danger that rain would impede the 38th Ryder Cup. So it’s proved.
Even before Dustin Johnson hit the opening tee shot at 7:45 a.m., Colin Montgomerie was on his radio barking at an assistant to bring more towels. It’s questionable if there were enough dry towels in all of Wales to tend to the equipment of the 16 players who had to play in the downpour.
Despite the deluge, the fans turned the first tee into a carnival. Cheers of “Ole,” the unofficial official European team song, rang out from the bleachers. They went wild when European vice captains Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley stepped onto the first tee about 10 minutes before play started. The Molinari brothers were greeted with the soccer-turned-golf song “There’s only two Molinaris!”
The tension mounted when Martin Kaymer and Westwood strode onto the tee. They got thunderous cheers.
In fact, the only heat on the dampest of dismal mornings in the Usk Valley came from those dedicated - some would say crazy - golf mad fans who climbed out of warm beds to endure the worst of downpours.
Too bad the sort of driving rain that’s common to Wales in October drenched their enthusiasm. If European Tour officials were second-guessing themselves for being stupid enough to agree to stage the Ryder Cup in Wales in October, then imagine the squirming they are doing thinking about how they are going to finish this shindig.
With only 13 hours of daylight per day, chances of the four-ball and foursomes sessions being finished before Sunday’s singles seems unlikely. Besides, the Twenty Ten Course already has soaked up more water than it can handle. There is nowhere else for the rain to go.
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Status of morning four-ball matches before rain delay:
Lee Westwood/Martin Kaymer (Europe) leading Phil Mickelson/Dustin Johnson (U.S.), 2 up thru 5
Rory McIlroy/Graeme McDowell (Europe) leading Stewart Cink/Matt Kuchar (U.S.), 1 up thru 4
Ian Poulter/Ross Fisher (Europe) leading Tiger Woods/Steve Stricker (U.S.), 1 up thru 3
Bubba Watson/Jeff Overton (U.S.) leading Luke Donald/Padraig Harrington (Europe), 2 up thru 2