Kaymer and Westwood
Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, up in the top match (Getty Images)

Opening fourballs finely balanced

The first Ryder Cup in Wales is evenly poised after the first day was interrupted by heavy rain.

 The Celtic Manor Resort was left waterlogged as rain forced a suspension of more than seven hours.

Not a shot was hit between 9.45am and 5pm and all four opening fourballs will resume on Saturday morning - possible fog permitting - nowhere near their completion.

In the four-and-a-bit hours of action there was for the soaked and mud-splattered spectators from all over the world Europe established an early advantage, but the Americans came storming back in the evening.

When they return to the course at 8am, Corey Pavin's side lead in two, are level in another and only top pair Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson trail - by just one hole with six to play against Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.

Ulster pair Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell spent the long break one up, but then fell two down to an inspired Stewart Cink - the man forgotten by Pavin at the opening ceremony - and Matt Kuchar after 11 holes.

Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington are one down after eight to rookies Jeff Overton and Bubba Watson, while Ian Poulter's 15 foot birdie putt on the short tenth in the gathering gloom meant he and Ross Fisher resume all square with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

Officials have come up with a way they hope can bring about a finish on Sunday still while maintaining a 28-point match.

Instead of four foursomes following the first session of fourballs there will be six of them involving all 24 players.

The third session will then comprise two foursomes and four fourball games and even though that is now certain to go into Sunday it will allow the match to conclude with the usual 12 singles.

Mickelson said: "I think it's great. Having four guys sit out is tough. The fact that everyone is playing is well deserved and I don't think it favours either team."

However, there is possible fog forecast for Saturday morning and more rain forecast for Sunday and further measures - including a two-tee start - has not been ruled out by chief referee John Paramor to try to avoid a Monday finish.

At the suspension Colin Montgomerie's men were up in three and the only pair trailing were Donald and Harrington, Watson and Overton beginning with a birdie each despite conditions so foul it took an hour to play two holes.

The army of greenkeepers had been out with the squeegees not only on the greens, but also the fairways long before the 7.45am start.

Just 14 holes in total were possible in that two-hour session, Westwood and Kaymer getting two up after five, McIlroy and McDowell one up after four and Poulter and Fisher one up after three.

George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said he felt that it was important to keep to 28 matches to maintain "the integrity of the match".

Part of the Captain's agreement is that if games are still in progress when the light goes on Monday they will all be deemed halves.

That, though, is a theoretical position. In reality it would surely be avoided at all costs - and the organisers have already shown their willingness to act if necessary.

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