Ryder Cup clean-up after storm

A clean-up operation was under way at the Ryder Cup venue today after the remnants of Hurricane Ike ripped through Louisville.

A clean-up operation was under way at the Ryder Cup venue today after the remnants of Hurricane Ike ripped through Louisville.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency when winds gusting to 90mph on Sunday afternoon caused two deaths – one a 10-year-old boy out mowing the lawn at home when a tree hit him – and left hundreds of thousands without power, possibly for more than a week.

At Valhalla, where Europe start their bid on Friday for an unprecedented fourth successive victory over the Americans, a television tower crashed onto the 12th green.

There were also trees brought down, damage to two rooves in the tented village area and flagpoles bent over.

As most of the European team flew out from Heathrow on a special Virgin Atlantic airbus direct to Louisville championship director Kerry Haigh said today: “The clean-up is going well. We have a lot of people working hard to be ready for tomorrow.”

Tuesday is the first day of official practice, although JB Holmes, one of two Kentuckians in the United States side, was already at the course and working on his game.

“I was going to play yesterday, but as I got here a roof blew off in front of the hotel and then a guy told us the power lines were down,” said Holmes.

“The wind was about 50-60mph then and I thought that it was not going to do me much to go out on the course.

“You don’t see this a whole lot around here. If you have 75mph winds there are not going to be many trees about and there are a lot of them here.

“I heard that the 12th green had some damage on it. There’s not much you can do about wind.”

The back part of the 12th green had been gouged by crashing metal from the television tower, but by mid-morning replacement sections of turf had already been laid by greenkeeping staff.

Close by two giant signs espousing the spirit of the match lay ripped in tatters on the ground.

The first one on the side of the driving range grandstand quoted Henry Cotton as saying in 1929: “There is something about the Ryder Cup which brings out of the team spirit in golfers. Golfers who normally want only to beat their rivals become, that week, the best of pals.”

The other had been on the back of the stand behind the first tee and quoted event founder Samuel Ryder in 1931: “I trust that the effect of the match will be to influence a cordial, friendly and peaceful feeling throughout the whole civilised world.”

The death of 10-year-old Frederick Wilson came in nearby Shelby County. A man was also killed by a falling tree in Clark County, Indiana.

Roughly 280,000 people, 75% of customers of the main electricity company, were without power in the metro area of Louisville.

Hotels were plunged into darkness as well and drivers were warned about taking cars onto the roads, not just because of closures caused by trees falling but also because traffic lights were out of action.

At daybreak police were out operating traffic control at busy crossroads.

Louisville’s international airport had to be closed for a while and many schoolchildren were told to stay at home on Monday.

Incredibly, one thing did continue uninterrupted near to Valhalla on Sunday.

Despite 75mph winds at the time North America completed a 19 1/2-8 1/2 victory over Europe in the inaugural Humana Fightmaster Cup for one-armed golfers.

American honorary captain Don Fightmaster said: “Both teams played exceptional golf in weather which most people wouldn’t even leave the house.

“We can’t wait for another chance to play in Wales in two years’ time.”

The 2010 Ryder Cup is at Celtic Manor near Newport.

His side included some Canadians, which is something people have started suggesting should happen to the United States Ryder Cup side if they crash to another defeat.

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