Ryder Cup first day at Celtic Manor disrupted by rain

The 10th green as late evening light fades in the distance
Image caption Play resumed in the late afternoon as heavy rain gave way to a colourful sunset

The first day of the world's biggest golfing event has finished after torrential rain forced hours of delays.

The European and USA teams had been on the fairways for under two hours at the Celtic Manor in Newport when the Welsh weather disrupted the schedule.

Play resumed at 1700 BST, with the US team ahead at the end of the day.

The cup's format has been changed to try to ensure a Sunday finish but there is still concern that the competition could extend in to Monday.

Additional matches of foursomes will take place on Saturday, meaning all 12 players on both sides will be involved.

If the tournament is forced to carry over to Monday, it will be the first time in its history that the competition has been held over four days.

European Tour chief executive George O'Grady said: "This all depends on the sky; we don't have a good forecast for Sunday but they are not always accurate, and if that happens we will then roll into Monday."

Rob Holt, chief executive of Ryder Cup Wales, said the six matches on Saturday and Sunday should be a "fantastic spectacle" for the fans.

He said: "We're in the northern hemisphere, playing golf in October.

"We have been very aware that this is a possibility and we planned for it."

Russell Phillips, vice-president of Celtic Manor, said people with a season ticket or a Sunday day ticket should present those tickets if the contest continues in to Monday.

The tournament is not giving refunds on tickets.

The prospect of an extended tournament has led thousands of spectators to look to book an extra night's accommodation, with many hotels saying they are already fully booked.

Hugh Hilary, of Cardiff Hoteliers Association, said: "Having spoken to some of the hotels, they are going to accommodate people wherever they are staying now.

"The concern is the people who want to stay on who haven't organised accommodation up to now.

Image caption USA team player Tiger Woods had to sit out the rain after play was suspended

"But they should be well accommodated and I'm sure Ryder Cup travel services will look after them in the same way they have up until now."

Forecasters predict Saturday may be the best day of the weekend, with the wind and rain returning on Sunday.

Wales' former First Minister Rhodri Morgan, who was involved in the years of planning for Wales to host the event, said it was not possible to rule out the weather but added that the course had recovered with "staggering" speed once the rain had stopped.

He said: "It's a risk you take because it's an outdoor sport. If it had been held last week, as it was originally intended to, it would have been fine."

The tournament will have to end at sunset on Monday, whatever the weather.

The captains have an agreement that the matches cannot continue any longer than when the sun goes down on Monday, which is at 1843 BST.

If the 28 matches are not completed by then, the results of all the completed matches will stand. Any match not finished and still on the course would be declared a halve no matter what the score.

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