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USA holds narrow lead over Europe as Ryder Cup play ends Friday

October 1, 2010 |  1:12 pm

Woods_300 A long and frustrating opening day in Ryder Cup golf competition ended with new rain suits Friday for team USA and a precarious 2-1-1 lead over Europe after a partial day of four-ball play. None of those matches was completed.

The teams teed off at 7:45 a.m local time Friday, and were called off the course about two hours later when a steady rain made much of the Twenty Ten course at the Celtic Manor Resort unplayable.

When that stoppage took place, Europe had a 3-1 lead and the only U.S. team on top was the rookie pair of Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, who birdied the first two holes and were two-up on European veterans Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald. The three other U.S. teams of Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar; Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods; and Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson trailed at that point.

But when play was resumed at 5 p.m. and stopped again at darkness, Cink and Kuchar had rallied to go two-up over the Northern Ireland pair of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, and Stricker and Woods had it back to all-square. Watson and Overton held on for a one-up lead, and Mickelson and Johnson had cut the once three-up lead of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer to one-up.

The rain prompted a schedule change for the rest of the weekend to finish the competition as planned on Sunday.

Now, Saturday’s matches are to begin with the completion of Friday’s four four-ball matches, followed by six foursome (alternate shot) matches. Then, Sunday’s 12 singles matches will be preceded by two more foursome and four more four-ball matches.

That means after the completion of Friday’s matches, no player from either team will sit out a match. European Captain Colin Montgomerie theorized that that would help his team because he had better alternate-shot players than U.S. Captain Corey Pavin.

But Pavin said the new schedule was fine with him. “They’re all going out both days now,” he said. “I like that.”

The weather forecast was better for Saturday, not quite as good for Sunday. If the event needs to be pushed into Monday, it will have a mandatory ending of 6:43 p.m. Whatever the score is of completed matches at that point will be the final score.

-- Bill Dwyre in Newport, Wales

Photo: Tiger Woods watches his shot during the Ryder Cup on Friday. Credit:  Andy Rain / European Press Agency.

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