38th RYDER CUP Venue: Celtic Manor, Newport Date: October 1-3 Starts: 0745 BST on Friday Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live & online, live text commentary online & daily highlights on BBC TWO. Live on Sky Sports 1
Celtic Manor groundstaff clear water off the first fairway
By Peter Shuttleworth
At The Celtic Manor
Virtually every player praised the warm Welsh welcome as the Ryder Cup arrived here for the first time.
But on day one in Newport, the 2010 Ryder Cup players experienced the real Welsh welcome - torrential rain and swirling wind.
Tiger Woods hides under an umbrella as the Welsh rain lashes Celtic Manor
The Celtic Manor's £1m drainage system initially coped as the projected downpours lashed this part of south-east Wales.
But two hours after American Dustin Johnson hit the first ball of the 38th Ryder Cup, play was suspended at 0943 BST because of a waterlogged course.
The wind and relentless deluge - over a third of October's average rainfall - between 1730 BST on Thursday and 1500 BST on Friday meant the sodden fairways could no longer take the battering from mother nature as golfing became a lottery rather a game of skill, endeavour and course-management.
Europe star Luke Donald admitted the "heavy spell of rain" was "too much" for the fairways as balls landing in standing water had nowhere to be dropped on the puddle-covered course.
It also appeared too much for the waterproofs of the American players which, the US PGA confirmed, "could not cope with the rain" so Tiger Woods and co had to go shopping at the Celtic Manor shop to purchase waterproofs that did what they said on the tin.
Now Wales' first Ryder Cup may be remembered for all the wrong reasons as it could be the first match in the tournament's 83-year history to need an extra day due to bad weather- that is if there is not enough spare time before the singles matches on Sunday morning.
BBC Wales weather presenter Behnaz Akhgar said: "There are drier, clearer conditions overnight and the wind will ease but there may be an issue with fog lingering over the course until 0900 BST on Saturday.
"But after that bright and breezy conditions are expected which might help dry the course.
"However, we are likely to be back to square one on Sunday as it will be a similar story to today as rain is forecast early on and is unlikely to clear until Monday morning."
So play here on Monday seems more than a distinct possibility and bookies have started taking bets that America and Europe will be still be here battling it out on a fourth day.
Europe led 3-1 in the morning fourballs as the hooter to postpone play reverberated around the Usk Valley - and the weather affected play so badly, that the first group had only managed to reach the sixth when the contest was halted after two hours.
This marks the first suspension of play in The Ryder Cup since 1997 at Valderrama but Wales Opens played here have suffered the full force of the elements, albeit earlier in the year, but no-one can say they were not warned.
Europe's 2008 skipper Nick Faldo's words now seem prophetic when he famously reminded everyone to "bring your waterproofs" for Wales' big weekend after his side had lost in Valhalla - arguably his best captaincy call all week.
And American captain Corey Pavin had previously suffered monsoon-like conditions when he made his Wales Open debut in 2009 - suffering a six-and-a-half hour break in play - when he wondered: "Well, if this is summer then what will the Welsh weather be like in the first week of October?"
It is just a shame that the initial scheduled date of last weekend for this Ryder Cup was not kept as, believe it or not, the sun had his hat on in Wales seven days ago.
But the date was changed at the request of the US PGA Tour to accommodate their showpiece Tour Championship FedEx Cup won by Jim Furyk in Atlanta.
The inclement weather was a chance, though, for Celtic Manor owner Sir Terry Matthews to show why he keeps telling everyone that the secret of a good golf course is "drainage, drainage and drainage".
The revamped Twenty Ten course in situated on an old Usk Valley flood plain but as Celtic Manor's director of golf courses Jim McKenzie told BBC Sport once: "The course was built up 0.9m higher than the highest ever recorded tide on the River Usk."
Colin Montgomerie shelters from the rain at the Celtic Manor
The layout had undergone extensive and expensive drainage work as on-course water is now soaked up and spat into one of the Twenty Ten's six purpose-built lakes.
Positive thinkers would suggest the rain was just a chance for the Sir Terry to show how good his piece de resistance really is - and when the heavens closed, the drainage came into its own - much to the relief of 45,000 of the golfing masses as play restarted over seven hours after it started.
The Celtic Manor spent £150m building a resort fit to stage the Ryder Cup while the Welsh Assembly Government committed £27m to supporting infrastructure.
If only billionaire Sir Terry could have bought better weather. That would have been priceless.
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