Off to a soggy start

NEWPORT, Wales — A long and frustrating opening day in Ryder Cup golf competition ended with Team USA holding a precarious 2-1-1 lead after a partial day of four-ball play.

The teams teed off at 7:45 a.m. and were called off the course one minute shy of two hours later when a steady rain made much of the Twenty Ten course at the Celtic Manor Resort unplayable. There were deep puddles on many fairways and greens.

When that stoppage took place, Europe had a 3-1 lead and the only U.S. team on top was the rookie pair of Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, who birdied the first two holes and were 2 up on European veterans Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald.

The three other U.S. teams of Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar; Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, trailed at that point.

But when play was resumed at 5 p.m. and stopped again at darkness, Cink and Kuchar had rallied to go 2 up over the Northern Ireland pair of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy and Stricker and Woods had it back to all-square. Watson and Overton held on for a 1-up lead, and Mickelson and Johnson had cut the once 3-up lead of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer to 1 up.

The rain prompted both a schedule change for the rest of the weekend, and some embarrassment for the U.S. team.

As play was ending Friday, Ryder Cup officials, in an attempt to finish as planned on Sunday, revised the schedule.

Saturday's matches are to begin with the completion of Friday's four four-ball matches, followed by six foursome (alternate-shot) matches.

Then Sunday's 12 singles will be preceded by two foursome and four four-ball matches.

That means that, after the completion of Friday's matches, no player from either team will sit out a match.

European captain Colin Montgomerie theorized that would help his team because he had better alternate-shot players than captain Corey Pavin of the U.S. Pavin said the new schedule was fine with him because he didn't have to make any more decisions about which players to sit.

"They're all going out both days now," Pavin said. "I like that."

The embarrassment factor for Team USA occurred as it played through the early rain and some of the players started to complain about their rain suits leaking. The suits then were replaced by PGA officials.

The weather forecast was better for Saturday, not quite as good for Sunday. If the event needs to be pushed into Monday, it will have a mandatory ending of 6:43 p.m.

Whatever the score is of completed matches at that point will be the final score.

bdwyre@tribune.com

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