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Monday finish still a possibility


Colin Montgomerie (centre)

Colin Montgomerie (centre)

Colin Montgomerie (centre)

The first Ryder Cup in Wales is still in danger of being the first one to spill into a fourth day - despite a radical change announced on Friday night for the weekend format.

Just as so many people feared when it was decided to stage the match at Celtic Manor in the first week of October, rain forced a suspension of more than seven hours today.

Manor from heaven? If only it had been. 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 hopefully 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 10th in the gathering gloom meant he and Ross Fisher resume all square with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker.

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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.

However, there is possible fog on 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.

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