Celtic Manor Diary: Get your snow boots ready, the weather could be worse in 2012
Monday 04 October 2010
The PGA of America yesterday made assurances that Ryder Cups of the future would take place earlier than the first week of October; and that it would be held not later than the last week of September. Well, thank goodness.
That means the next Ryder Cup is likely to finish a whole four days earlier than the mud-splattered 2010 version. One look at the weather websites this weekend will have not filled everyone with hope about Medinah, Chicago, 2012. It was 10C, with rain, a 40mph wind and then a morning frost. Never mind "bring your waterproofs", Corey Pavin, the US captain, should say at the closing ceremony today "bring your waterproofs, your winter mitts, wind-rash cream and snow boots".
At least, the PGA's promise means an end to the prospect of the 2014 match at Gleneagles taking place a week later than this mudbath. The three courses at the Perthshire complex have mirrored Celtic Manor in having to shut over the last three days. European Tour sources have hinted at their displeasure over the original plans and will have been relieved by Joe Steranka's comments.
"We have started talking to the PGA Tour and Tim Finchem has given us a commitment that the Ryder Cup will not be played later than the last week of September," said the PGA of America's chief executive. "We have put a hard-stop on that date because we believe that it will give us more flexibility to get matches finished. You can't guess the weather but if you have more daylight then you can make up time."
There will now be much focus on Finchem, the PGA Tour commissioner. After a trip to London he was due to return here yesterday and would have been expecting cheers. On Friday, he came in for some stick from the fans when posing for a picture on the first tee. That was more probably because of the US team outfit he was wearing than his perceived culpability in the late staging of the Ryder Cup.
The questions will be posed whether the PGA Tour – which derives no direct financial profit from the biennial match – cares about the team event. If it does – which is doubtful – then it will clear a few weeks in the calendar so the Ryder Cup could be hosted in early September or even late August. What the American TV networks would feel about that is anyone's guess, but should be nobody's concern. Wishful thinking. If not extremely naive.
Take this quote from Steranka in justifying the placing of the Ryder Cup after the play-offs. "We believe it is best to have the Ryder Cup after the FedEx because then you have the American team arriving in their peak playing form, and that gives a better match." Yep, they want us to believe it's been done for golfing reasons. Insulting.
When it rains...
Much has been said about how this last few days will affect the reputation of Newport and Wales, and the general consensus is that it has not been established as a popular holiday destination.
It was warming, therefore, to hear Ryder Cup Wales – set up by the Assembly to deliver on the public-sector commitments – putting a positive spin on the extended proceedings.
Said its chief executive, Rob Holt: "This is not an isolated weather pattern, it covers large parts of the UK and bad weather extends into parts of southern Europe. We cannot control the weather, those things that we have sought to control, such as the operation of the infrastructure on and off site and the showcase events, such as Welcome to Wales, have received high praise from all parts and we take great pride in that."
In other words, it's not Wales' fault; so don't think bad about us. They're right, it isn't. If only the world would see it that way. And if only it would understand that what we have witnessed has actually been a freak occurrence.
More than two inches of rain fell between Thursday night and Sunday night. Just to put that in perspective, the average rainfall in these parts for the whole of September and October is a little over 3.5 inches. It was almost a case of one season in three days.
As ever, local businesses have been cashing in on the influx of fans, business types and, worst of all, hacks. One pub told a journalist he was being charged £5 for a pint of Guinness, while the chap next to him had paid £2.80 because "it's different prices depending if you're a local or not".
The journalist in question came from Cardiff, a full 18 miles away. "How much are you charging the Americans then?" asked the journalist. No answer was forthcoming. Must still be working it out.
Simply nothing to wear?
The American Ryder Cup wives were understood to have been given almost £5,000 each to buy a dress for the Welcome to Wales concert. With the captain and vice-captains, that works out at about £80,000. A waste of money or a necessary expense? Of all the questions asked here this was one of the easier to answer.
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