Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland duo paired for Ryder Cup start

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
Image caption Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will be centre stage at the Ryder Cup

Northern Irish duo Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have received a rousing reception as the 38th Ryder Cup got under way at Celtic Manor in Wales.

They were playing US pair Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar when rain intervened and forced a temporary halt.

Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer led out Europe against the United States' Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the opening match of the fourballs.

45,000 fans a day are expected to attend the event.

The forecast is for rain and strong winds on Friday with showers possible for the rest of the weekend and there is a concern that the matches may suffer delays and run into Monday.

Friday's opening fourballs, where each player hits his own ball and the best score from each team counts, follow at 15-minute intervals from 0745 BST.

Friday's afternoon foursomes - the alternate-shot format - will begin about 1315 BST.

Saturday will follow the same pattern before all 12 players go head-to-head in singles matches at 12-minute intervals from 1135 BST on Sunday.

US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin has said he believes McIlroy, from Holywood in County Down, could come to regret his comments about Tiger Woods when the competition starts.

McIlroy, 21, said world number one Woods had lost his aura after his much-publicised personal problems.

"I think other people have said things like that to Tiger in the past and have maybe regretted it," said Pavin.

"I know Tiger is aware of the comment. If they do play against each other I think it would be quite entertaining."

However, US player Phil Mickleson has denied there was any needle between the world number one and McIlroy, saying: "They get along great, are you kidding me? Rory is one of the nicest guys on tour and he is as classy as they come."

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