Ryder Cup off to raucous start

Nick Faldo’s advice for everyone to “bring your waterproofs” proved accurate, but that did not prevent an electric atmosphere as the Ryder Cup got under way at Celtic Manor.

As rain continued to fall, there were several patches of standing water on the first fairway and greenkeepers were still attempting to clear more from the landing area just before the opening tee shots.

But Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were still greeted by an enormous cheer when they strode onto the first tee to take on Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the first fourballs.

Johnson struck the first shot and carved it over the crowd to the right of the fairway, but Mickelson and the two European players both found the short grass.

With preferred lies in operation, those three were allowed to lift and clean their balls before hitting their approach to the green, but Westwood was the only one of the trio to find the putting surface to match Johnson’s good recovery.

Kaymer had missed the green to the left and hit a poor chip 20ft past the hole, but the USPGA champion calmly holed the putt for par to allow Westwood a free run at his birdie attempt.

Westwood, playing his first competitive round since August 6 after a calf injury, missed from 15ft but Johnson did as well and the opening hole was halved.

The rain continued to hammer down and Europe captain Colin Montgomerie admitted: “I’ve been told if this was a strokeplay event this might not be taking place.

“Fingers crossed this (play) continues because we don’t have much leeway to finish these matches on time. It must favour us this weather. It’s not fun for anybody but less so for the Americans.

“Let’s just hope it does not get so waterlogged that we can’t play.”

At least manpower should not be a problem, with 133 greenkeeping staff on hand at the Twenty Ten course, including 80 drafted in from around Europe and even America.

Fourball scores:

1 Mickelson, D Johnson all square with Westwood, Kaymer, after 1 hole

2 McIlroy, McDowell 1up on Cink, Kuchar after 1 hole

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