Practice at Ryder Cup disrupted by high winds

Wednesday, September 20th 2006, 8:59 am
By: News On 6

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ The second training session of the Ryder Cup suffered a three-hour delay Wednesday when high winds forced organizers to close the course and keep thousands of fans waiting in parking lots miles (kilometers) away.

At dawn, organizers shut down the K Club, southwest of Dublin, because of winds gusting above 40mph (65kph). But as winds eased and the rain faded, organizers launched the shuttle-bus service to the K Club where the U.S. and European teams belatedly warmed up for Friday's start to the three-day event.

The U.S. team had been scheduled to tee off about 7:30 a.m. (0630 GMT), the Europeans 30 minutes later, but neither side appeared on the course until about 11 a.m. (1000 GMT).

Europe Ryder Cup LLP, the event organizers, thanked the thousands of people stuck in two parking lots for their patience, but said police and other advisers had deemed the K Club unsafe. ``All structures have subsequently been checked and loose impediments such as screens, fencing and flags secured,'' it said in a statement.

About 40,000 people attended the opening practice session Tuesday. Thousands more sat in their cars Wednesday morning waiting for the weather to improve and the buses to roll.

RTE, the Irish national broadcaster, fielded streams of calls from golf fans in the parking lots. Some described their frustrations and fears that bad weather could foul what is the biggest international sports event ever staged in Ireland. Others said they were keeping their spirits up by singing songs.

Meteorologists attributed the high winds to the tail-end of Hurricane Gordon, which has steadily weakened as it crossed the Atlantic.

Met Eireann, Ireland's state forecasting service, predicted that the weather would remain ``very wet or stormy'' Thursday but would improve Friday, when the three-day competition is scheduled to begin. It said Friday would begin with continued wind and rain, then improve with ``a few scattered showers during the day and periods of sunshine.''