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Page last updated at 22:48 GMT, Saturday, 2 October 2010 23:48 UK

The true beauty of Celtic Manor

38th RYDER CUP
Venue: Celtic Manor, Newport Date: 1-3 October
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
The incessant rain gave way to autumnal sunshine - and a fascinating day of golf

By Peter Shuttleworth
BBC Sport Wales at Celtic Manor

A musical arrangement inspired by Disney accompanied the official opening ceremony of the 2010 Ryder Cup.

And Celtic Manor has certainly shown their 2010 course to be both the beauty and the beast in the opening two days, as America attempt to successfully defend the Samuel Ryder trophy for the first time in 17 years.

This beautiful 7,378-yard layout made the world's finest appear Mickey Mouse on Friday as it showed its teeth when the Friday fourballs suffered a seven-and-a-quarter hour rain delay.

Bogeys were replaced by birdies as swirling winds and stair-rods made way for autumnal sunshine, pleasant if a little chilly, as the Ryder Cup really began in the Saturday stillness after day one's hors d'oeuvres.

The rain-affected Friday fourballs finally finished 27 hours after Dustin Johnson cracked the starting shot of this titanic sporting tussle.

And it was Europe's raw, enigmatic talent that lit the blue-touch paper when rookie Rory McIlroy holed a stunning 30-foot putt at the 17th to ignite a cheer that reverberated right up the Usk Valley to break the early morning calm.

His putt squared the fourball match alongside Graeme McDowell against Stewart Cink and Matt Kucher.

ROB HODGETTS' BLOG

But McIlroy's exploits at the 17th perfectly emphasised the rollercoaster ride of this epic day of Ryder Cup golf. In the early afternoon foursomes, the 21-year-old missed a straight-forward putt after high-fiving McDowell following his great tee shot.

Experienced Cink, the man with the golden putter, had holed another sensational putt to birdie the par three. McIlroy's miss handed the Americans the lead for the third and crucially final time in this dramatic match after the two Ulstermen had led on four occasions.

McIlory twice also fell into traps at the 18th set by the 2010 course designers.

He certainly did not find the water feature protecting the green as delightful as the spectators in the Friday fourballs.

But his wayward foursomes approach into the sand was a blow to Europe captain Colin Montgomerie at a key time as it paved the way for USA to move two points clear.

Luke Donald

Luke Donald hits two shots of the day

"There has been a lot of back and forth across the board," pointed-out birdie-machine Cink.

This golfing pendulum continued to sway atop this matchplay masterpiece on the green, green grass in Wales as this was the course Celtic Manor wanted the world to see.

The par-four 15th - like the 18th McIlroy knows only too well - typifies the 2010's risk-and-reward design, enticing golfers to drive through the trees, rather than the cautious approach around the woods, en route to the green 377 yards away.

The water holes on the valley floor lead players into temptation that could end in despair as easily as it could end in joy.

Talisman Lee Westwood and rookie Martin Kaymer, the world number three and US PGA champion respectively, must have felt they had tamed this impressive design.

Europe's number one partnership had led both their matches since winning the 1st in Friday's fourballs.

But at the final hole in their Saturday foursomes, they were dragged back to all-square when America snatched a tie out of the jaws of defeat after Kaymer's poor approach allowed Rickie Fowler to hole, following Jim Furyk's superb set-up.

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And on this day of golfing adventure, we witnessed a rarity in these parts as a colossal roar from the home galleries was heard when the English proved victorious.

Luke Donald maintained his 100% foursomes record in five Ryder Cup matches as his wonder approach at the 17th inspired a win for him and compatriot Ian Poulter over America's impressive rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton.

America led twice but it was third time lucky for Europe, with few wanting this thrilling 11-hour golfing marathon to end as dusk descended over Newport.

Europe led 3-1 during the rain break, America were ahead after both fourball and foursome sessions, while Europe are up in all six matches currently breaking for bedtime.

So as the much-talked about momentum continues to fluctuate, we are no nearer to knowing who will ultimately win here during Wales' finest sporting hour.

This is an area renowned for its nearby Roman amphitheatre - and the combat here at Celtic Manor is certainly a gladiatorial golfing joust.



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see also
Europe launch Ryder Cup fightback
02 Oct 10 |  Golf
Ryder Cup 2010: Saturday photos
02 Oct 10 |  Golf
US edge rain-affected first day
01 Oct 10 |  Golf
Ryder Cup A-Z
28 Sep 10 |  Golf


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Daily Star Golf: Europe take Ryder Cup on day of amazing drama at Celtic Manor - 2 hrs ago
Tayside and Fife Courier Europeans reign supreme after stunning Ryder Cup comeback - 14 hrs ago
Scottish Sun Three minutes of magic 1 minute ago - 23 hrs ago
Manchester Wired Lee Westwood first out for Europe in Ryder Cup singles - 25 hrs ago
News of the World Great afternoon for Europe despite the rain - 27 hrs ago


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