Ryder Cup not blown off traditional course by weather

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Howling winds and torrential rains accompanied yesterday’s date announcement for the 2014 Ryder Cup, but organisers dismissed fears of another weather-disrupted event in Britain.

The 2014 biennial match between Europe and the United States will take place from September 26 to September 28 on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles in Perthshire.

Europe are the holders, having triumphed at Celtic Manor last October in an event which went into a fourth day for the first time in history due to adverse weather in south Wales.

While golf’s entry into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will lead to a restructuring of the sport’s already-packed calendar, the 2014 Ryder Cup will remain in its traditional place, rather than an earlier date which might be less susceptible to bad weather.

European Ryder Cup director Richard Hills maintained the weather is not a concern.

“It’s in its traditional date,” said Hills. “We are not an indoor sport. You have instances where tournaments in July have had to go into Mondays, so it’s not an unusual occurrence.

“We have to deal with what we’ve been given. (The possibility of changing the date) was looked at, but we were very comfortable with what was in the mix.

“The international schedule is complex and it will become even more complicated in 2016 when golf becomes an Olympic sport again.

“That’s another ingredient which will be in the mix.”

Asked why a compromise can be made for the Olympics but not the Ryder Cup, Hills said: “We were very comfortable with the date.

“We’re very comfortable with the weather stats.

“If we had played the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, we’ve had three days’ straight sunshine this year,” he said.

“We’re very confident of delivery in this particular date.”

The competition will be played in the traditional three-day, 28-point format and there is the possibility of an additional day’s play, if required.

“There’s always been a provision that you could run over into that extra day,” Hills added.

It will be the 40th staging of the Ryder Cup and the second time the event has been held in Scotland. In 1973, the contest was played at Muirfield in East Lothian.

There is a particular poignancy about the event returning to Gleneagles too.

Hills added: “The precursor to the first match in 1927 was a friendly match played here, at Gleneagles, in 1921.

“It’s something of a homecoming.”

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond was present at the announcement.

He estimates the Scottish economy will benefit by up to £100million from the event, which is to take place in the same year as Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games.

In an effort to allay fears over the Scottish climate, Salmond read out figures relating to conditions at Gleneagles earlier this year, describing them as “balmy sunshine”.

And the SNP leader, for one, is relishing the prospect of the Ryder Cup returning to Scotland.

He said: “It’s going to be enormous. I’m feeling the excitement already - 2014’s the next year of Homecoming (a celebration of Scottish ancestry).

“It’s also the year of the Commonwealth Games, where the whole Commonwealth will come to Glasgow for a great multi-sport event.

“And then in September it’s the Ryder Cup.”

The 2012 Ryder Cup will take place at the Medinah Country Club near Chicago next September, with Jose Maria Olazabal as captain.

Scotland will have to wait until early 2013 to discover if Colin Montgomerie - or any other Scot - is awarded the captaincy for 2014. It was a debate Salmond avoided.

Hills said: “It’s a decision which is taken by the tournament committee of the PGA European Tour.

“Normally that would take place in the second committee after the Chicago match, sometime early in 2013.”

Two other announcements were made today, with drinks giant Diageo joining as an official partner of the 2014 tournament.

Changes to the course were also made public, with adjustments made at the ninth, 10th and 18th holes following proposals by 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus.