Sun comes out, but which side will be all brightened up after a pivotal day at the Ryder Cup?

By Paul Newberry, AP
Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sun comes out on a pivotal day at the Ryder cup

NEWPORT, Wales — The sun came out at Celtic Manor. Time for a very busy day at the Ryder Cup.

After drenching rain put the schedule in disarray, the players returned to the course on a chilly — but, more important, sunny — Saturday morning to complete the first session nearly 24 hours behind schedule.

No stopping there. As soon as the fourball matches were done, everyone was set to tee off again in a hastily assembled second session with six alternate-shot matches. And assuming the forecast of good weather holds up, there will be at least the start of a mishmash third session comprised of two alternate-shot matches, and four more groups playing foursomes.

It was all part of a plan to hand out the gold chalice by nightfall Sunday — either to the United States, which needs at least 14 points to retain the cup, or Europe, which needs 14½ points to get it back on home soil.

After a shaky start, including a quick trip to the merchandise tent to buy new rainsuits when their team outfits left them all wet, the U.S. turned things around after a rain delay of more than seven hours Friday.

The Americans, behind in three matches when play was suspended, went to bed with two groups leading, another all square and only one duo trailing.

But no match had been decided, so it was like opening day all over again.

Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were closing in on giving Europe the first point, leading Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson 2 up with three holes to play.

The Americans were leading the other three matches.

Steve Stricker, paired with Tiger Woods, knocked in a chip from about 20 yards at No. 12 for a 1-up lead over Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. Ryder Cup rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton were 2 up on Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald through 11 holes, while hot-putting Stewart Cink was carrying the load in his pairing with Matt Kuchar, giving the U.S. a 1-up lead on Rory McIlroy and U.S. Open Graeme McDowell.

The 21-year-old McIlroy provided a boost to the Europeans with his first birdie of the match, rolling in a 5-footer at the 13th.

Rain was in the forecast for Sunday, which could still set up the first Monday finish in Ryder Cup history. Until then, everyone will be playing until one team hoists the cup. That includes Westwood, in his first competition in six weeks because of a calf injury.

But everyone was in for a grueling weekend in Wales.

“Well, if they’re not fit, they shouldn’t be here,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “And they’re fit, so they are here.”

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