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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Sunshine eases Ryder Cup fears
Bad weather at the K Club
Heavy rain has already affected the Ryder Cup build-up
Ryder Cup officials are hopeful the tournament will start on time after weather conditions at the K Club eased.

The signs did not look good on Thursday morning, with spectators forced to run for cover as the rain lashed down.

But by early afternoon the course was bathed in sunshine and the opening ceremony was held outdoors as planned, getting under way at 1530 BST.

If the weather in County Kildare holds, play will start at the scheduled time of 0800 BST on Friday.

K Club owner Dr Michael Smurfit admitted: "It's in the lap of the Gods."

But he said: "I will be on the first tee at 8am on Friday, ready to rock and roll.

"I believe the match will go ahead as planned. This course dries out very quickly and it will improve."

Days of strong winds and driving rain have forced organisers to put contingency plans in place, with Monday set aside as a "reserve day" in case play is held up.

RYDER CUP BLOG
Our blogger Rob Hodgetts on the official photo shoot

Heavy gusts on Wednesday saw access to the K Club restricted to essential staff only as the effects of the tail-end of Hurricane Gordon hit County Kildare.

The winds caused damage to trees and saw chairs blown around the venue.

And as the inclement weather continued into Thursday morning, 45,000 supporters hoping to watch practice and the opening ceremony found themselves scurrying to the tented village and hospitality marquees within an hour of their arrival.

Meanwhile, the European team photographs had to be taken indoors - including a shot of the squad wearing their all-weather clothing.

The weather has raised the thorny issue of "preferred lies" being used for the match.

This allows for the ball to be moved by hand, cleaned and then replaced in a more playable position if - because of bad weather - it comes to rest, for instance, in standing rain water.

The European team pose for their team photo
The European team photo was taken inside

The organisers are eager to avoid using "preferred lies" if possible, but world number one Tiger Woods said he thought it was inevitable that the rule would have to be introduced.

And Europe captain Ian Woosnam agreed that the rule - which is down to PGA officials in consultation with the captains - might have to come into force.

"We always say that we don't want to have preferred lies if possible but if it gets to a stage where the ball is picking up too much then we might have to," he said.

"Nobody wants to see a good shot go into the rough - we've got to be sensible about it."

And US captain Tom Lehman agreed with his counterpart.

"If you have mud on the ball it can be disastrous," he said.

"I think everyone would prefer to have a match where luck may not be quite as big a factor."



EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM

 

US RYDER CUP TEAM

 

SEE ALSO
Ryder Cup: Wednesday photos
20 Sep 06 |  Golf


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