USA’s Ryder Cup wardrobe malfunction

NEWPORT, United Kingdom – The opening hours of the Ryder Cup brought embarrassment for the United States’ team, even though the first day’s fourballs matches were severely delayed by bad weather.

USA Team Captain Corey Pavin (R) chats with his vice captain Paul Goydos on the second hole during the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In a development that left U.S. captain Corey Pavin red-faced, the American team was forced to ditch its official waterproof clothing and replace it with new gear purchased from the clubhouse store at the Celtic Manor course.

“We are disappointed with the performance of them, so we fixed it,” Pavin said. “They weren’t doing what we wanted them to do so we went out and bought new waterproofs.”

A U.S. team source told Yahoo! Sports that the standard waterproofs, provided by Montana-based company Sun Mountain, were holding too much liquid and thus weighed down players and caddies alike. Captain Pavin had been alerted to the problem by the time the opening pair of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson had reached the second green, and an emergency plan was put into action.

[Photos: See more of rain-soaked Phil Mickelson]

A team official was hastily dispatched to the merchandising tent, where almost the entire stock of ProQuip waterproof trousers were purchased, according to a store worker.

“They bought more than 20 pairs,” the employee told Yahoo! Sports.

The choice of replacement was all the more humiliating for Pavin, as ProQuip is the official waterproof supplier to the European team. Inclement weather has been predicted ever since the Ryder Cup was awarded to Celtic Manor, and European captain Colin Montgomerie took no chances with his preparation.

“When I was a player in the Ryder Cup, I simply turned up, put on the gear that had been left for me in my room, went out and started playing,” said Montgomerie, who collaborated with his wife Gaynor, caddie Jason Hempleman and ProQuip managing director Richard Head in all aspects of Europe’s kit design. “But as captain it is totally different, and I am central to all of what goes on behind the scenes.

“I have always said we will wear what the players want to wear, and I think that symbolizes the entire team spirit we are engendering.”

Montgomerie held several meetings with ProQuip and tested the products before they were ordered for each team member.

[Photos: Tiger Woods battles the rough rainstorm]

“It was clear from the outset that Colin had prepared for all our meetings,” Head said. “He made himself available in all aspects of the discussions about the waterproofs, which was excellent.”

The U.S. team waterproofs didn’t just bother the players; they attracted criticism for their look and design as well. Former Tiger Woods coach Butch Harmon, commentating on British television, described them as “not right” and insisted they looked more like a basketball practice uniform.

All members of both teams had no choice but to wear waterproof gear as rain drenched the course from the start of play at 7:45 a.m Welsh time. Mickelson opted to wear all-weather gloves — even while putting — and none of the Americans looked comfortable.

When play was stopped after just five holes of the top match, Europe was ahead in each of the first three matches – with only Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton leading, ahead of Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.

Martin Rogers is a staff writer for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
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Updated Friday, Oct 1, 2010