Repairs begin after Ike cuts up roughon course

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The Independent Online

A clean-up operation was under way at the Ryder Cup venue yesterday after the remnants of Hurricane Ike ripped through Louisville. Kentucky's governor, Steve Beshear, declared a state of emergency when winds gusting up to 90mph on Sunday afternoon caused two deaths – one a 10-year-old boy mowing the lawn at home when a tree hit him – and left hundreds of thousands without power, possibly for more than a week.

At Valhalla, where Europe start their bid on Friday for an unprecedented fourth successive victory over the Americans, a television tower crashed onto the 12th green. Trees were also brought down, two roofs in the tented village area were damaged and flagpoles bent over.

As most of the European team flew out from Heathrow on a special airbus direct to Louisville, the championship director, Kerry Haigh, said: "The clean-up is going well. We have a lot of people working hard to be ready for tomorrow."

Today is the first day of official practice, although J B Holmes, one of two Kentuckians in the United States side, was already at the course and working on his game yesterday.

"I was going to play yesterday, but as I got here a roof blew off in front of the hotel and then a guy told us the power lines were down," Holmes said. "The wind was about 50-60mph then and I thought that it was not going to do me much good to go out on the course.

"You don't see this a whole lot around here. If you have 75mph winds there are not going to be many trees about and there are a lot of them here. I heard that the 12th green had some damage on it. There's not much you can do about wind."

The back part of the 12th green had been gouged by crashing metal from the television tower, but by mid-morning replacement sections of turf had already been laid by greenkeeping staff.

Roughly 280,000 people, were without power in the Louisville area. Hotels were plunged into darkness and drivers were warned about taking cars on to the roads, not just because of closures caused by trees falling and because traffic lights were out of action. At daybreak police were out operating traffic control at busy crossroads. Louisville's airport had to be closed for a while and many schoolchildren were told to stay at home.