High winds fan fears of lock-out for Ryder Cup

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The third biggest sporting event in the world may start behind closed doors tomorrow. That was what the Ryder Cup teams were told yesterday as it was revealed that the tail end of Hurricane Gordon threatens to play havoc with the three-day match between Europe and the United States.

A source said that the teams were advised about the potential seriousness of the situation in the midst of the gale-force winds which blighted the second day of practice. Such a lock-out due to safety fears would lead to a considerable dent in the expected £14m profits. It would also provoke angry scenes from Irish golf fans who have waited 79 years to watch golf's showcase.

Forecasters said there was a risk of more 60mph winds which shut the course yesterday morning and with bad weather also expected at the weekend there would be little chance of a scheduled finish. With officials terrified of not even being able to effect a Monday climax they feel they would have to stop the 45,000 fans from going on to the Palmer Course tomorrow, due to safety concerns.

They do believe, however, that they would be able to guarantee the safety of the golfers and other personnel required to play on the opening day. The source said: "The fact they have drawn up contingency plans shows how worried they are."