Kentucky prepares for another big storm as the Ryder Cup breezes into Valhalla

Among the debris left littered at Valhalla courtesy of the final gust of anger from Hurricane Ike was a billboard lying forlorn at the back of the first tee and bearing the mission statement of the man who founded the Ryder Cup.

'I trust that the effect of the match will be to influence a cordial, friendly and peaceful feeling throughout the whole civilised world,' Samuel Ryder had proposed hopefully.

Only here his words had been ripped to shreds, making you wonder whether such disregard from the 90mph winds could be an uncomfortable portent for similar contempt for his wishes later this week.

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Nick Faldo

Something old, something new and something blue: European captain and Ryder Cup veteran Nick Faldo (left) keeps an eye on rookie Oliver Wilson at Valhalla

For if that was the storm before the calm of Kentucky's finest golf club being restored to its pristine best on a windless morning, how about the prospect that Tuesday's practice rounds could prove the calm before one of the stormiest and ill-tempered of the event's 37 dramatic editions? 

This is not just because of the antipathy between the two captains, Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger, which the pair can do nothing to hide even when they're trying to be nice to each other - as evidenced at Monday's meet-and-greet session at Louisville Airport - nor the feeling that the Americans, derided as having no chance of ending Europe's domination, are being increasingly driven by fierce indignation.

Faldo believes that Tiger Woods's absence will be the ultimate deciding factor.

He said: 'I can see positives and negatives but I reckon this is the one where Tiger was going to play a blinder and win every match - and I think they have lost out on a few points.'

But, more than anything, it is down to the prospect that a daily 40,000 crowd, full of roaring good ol' boys from the bourbon state, will make the action an unprecedented trial for the visitors.

'If I could hand pick any place in the country to play, Louisville would probably be the spot,' said Azinger, who really believes their galleries will prove to be Team America's 13th man. 

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brookline and justin leonard

Flashpoint: Justin Leonard is mobbed by his American team-mates after sinking a long putt Brookline Country Club's 17th in 1999

Is it any coincidence that the US's only two home wins in the last 21 years came at Kiawah Island in 1991 and Brookline in 1999, events where the crowds were whipped up into such a frenzy of patriotic fervour that the Cup took on the feel of some sort of war substitute.

Azinger said all the right things.

'The message to the crowd is be enthusiastic, raucous, crazy if you like, but keep it all within the realm of good sportsmanship,' he declared solemnly.

Yet you just know the old streetfighter is counting on the 'raucous' and 'crazy' bit.

In these parts, they just laugh at the idea that any golf crowd could be more boisterous than a bunch of partying Kentuckians.

Brookline? With Kentucky fried Europeans on the menu, the theory is that they will make 1999 resemble a genteel Boston tea party.

Kenny Perry

Local hero: Kenny Perry

If so, then the sport must hope that it is not accompanied by the verbal poison Colin Montgomerie had to endure that weekend, still one of the most revolting episodes in modern sport.

And Zinger's not-so-secret weapon for helping stir the passions? How about taking two small-town local heroes, the golden oldie Kenny Perry and the drive-booming rookie J.B Holmes, mixing them together in the foursomes and letting them set the blue grass alight.

'I'd love to see them together. They might birdie every hole,' reckoned former captain Lanny Wadkins.

Don't think Azinger hasn't pondered it.

'Yeah, they do play a lot together. I might put them out first day, first match, get everybody going,' he mused, prompting Faldo to look under the table and jest, 'Where's my pen?'

Actually, it's so obvious it might work, particularly as Perry, who has made no bones about his dream of playing the Cup in his home state, has become the real totem of Azinger's team.

'Hey, we're going to be like rock stars,' smiled Perry, who jokes that the whole of Franklin, a town of 8,000 two hours drive away, will descend on Valhalla. Indeed, he's paid for 6,000 dollars worth of tickets for his old mates.

'Still, you've got to be careful what you wish for. I don't know if Cinderella will find the slipper or not,' he said. 'In the state of Kentucky, I'm either going to be a hero or a goat.'

Or, with a bit of luck, maybe even a 48-year-old Tiger.

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