US on top after rain ruins Ryder opening day

NEWPORT, Wales, (Reuters) – The United States holders,  inspired by a blistering run from Stewart Cink, came from behind  to seize control in yesterday’s unfinished fourball matches after  the 38th Ryder Cup was severely disrupted by torrential rain.

Play was suspended for more than seven hours at a  waterlogged Celtic Manor before the Americans ended a  frustrating day for the players and fans by leading in two of  the four encounters and trailing in one.

They were all square in the third match out, where Ian  Poulter holed a 20-foot birdie putt for Europe at the par-three  10th before play ended for the day in the gathering gloom.

“That was very important,” European captain Colin  Montgomerie told reporters of Poulter’s putt. “It was a  fantastic effort and that will give us momentum we need to carry  forward into a very busy day tomorrow.”

Organisers of the biennial team competition have already  amended the format in a bid to make up for lost time after the  first suspension of play since the 1997 edition at Valderrama,  Spain.

A revamped second session on Saturday will feature six  foursomes involving all 12 players while a new extended third  session will comprise two foursomes and four fourball  encounters.
“It was a tough start with the weather and I was obviously  pleased with the way the U.S. team came back and performed this  afternoon,” skipper Corey Pavin said.

The Americans had trailed in three of the four games when  play was suspended in driving rain during the morning before  Cink sparked a stirring fightback on the resumption.

The 2009 British Open champion was the outstanding player,  holing a series of lengthy putts as he and rookie Matt Kuchar  went two up on Northern Irishmen Rory McIlroy and Graeme  McDowell after 11 holes.

The U.S. duo had trailed by one after four holes but Cink,  who drained a 40-footer at the par-three third, rolled in  further birdie putts from 60 feet at the fifth, 25 feet at the  seventh and 10 feet at the 10th.

In the bottom match, U.S. rookies Jeff Overton and Bubba  Watson were one up on Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington after  eight holes.

World number one Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker led British  duo Poulter and Ross Fisher one up after nine holes before  Poulter’s birdie at the 10th squared the match.

Europe were in control in the top encounter where  third-ranked Lee Westwood and U.S. PGA champion Martin Kaymer  were one up on Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson after 12 holes.

More than 40 percent of the average monthly rainfall for  September and October has fallen at Celtic Manor in less than 24  hours but relatively dry weather is forecast for today.

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