News & ToursOctober 1, 2010

A real Watergate: U.S. bags on rain gear

NEWPORT, Wales -- The verbal sparring between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the flap over Major Dan Rooney's speech to the U.S. team -- it's all been pushed to the background thanks to the Ryder Cup controversy of the day: the faulty U.S. rain gear.

raingear_470.jpg

An outfit that was already a source of amusement thanks to the curious presence of player's names on the back proved to be ineffective enough in the morning session that several players opted against wearing them at all, even in a downpour.

Then came word that PGA of America officials had taken to the merchandise tent to secure new suits for the players for when they returned to the course.

"It didn't perform the way we wanted it to perform, so we've remedied that," Corey Pavin said.

The U.S. team gear was furnished by Sun Mountain while the new gear is from ProQuip, which is the same brand the European team is using. While waiting out the rain delay, Rory McIlroy couldn't help a jab at the Americans on Twitter.

"Just have to say our waterproofs are performing very well!" he wrote.

The Americans said they first noticed a problem on Tuesday, when they played practice rounds in the rain and the suits took an inordinate amount of time to dry. Caddies have reported that their bags, which are fashioned after the old-style leather bags, have also soaked through in the rain.

And oh yeah, the U.S. is behind in three of the first four matches.

Other than that, the Americans are off to a great start.

Update: Golf Digest's Marty Hackel, aka "Mr. Style", weighs in on the rain gear debacle:

"Sun Mountain makes great golf bags, but the rain suits they make don't use the classic material. The U.S. took a major risk going with a company that doesn't use Gore-Tex, especially when they knew they'd be playing in the rain in Wales at this time of year."

__Second update:__In response to criticism of its rain gear, Sun Mountain released the following statement:*

"Sun Mountain has been designing and selling outerwear for more than two decades. We have provided rainwear to 3,000 plus PGA of America Professionals and over 150 tour players, and supplied outerwear to numerous U.S. teams, including the Walker Cup and the 2000 and 2009 Presidents Cup teams. Sun Mountain has staff on the ground at the Ryder Cup working in conjunction with the PGA of America on this issue."

*__Third update:__PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka was the latest grilled on the rain suits.

"All of the companies that produce this rain gear meet the technical specifications that you would want to have for extreme conditions," he said. "They do more testing than we could ever do on our own, and we look at the specifications and take them for what they are.  And the fact of the matter is, they didn't perform as well as they needed to. Now, there are a number of players that were quite comfortable with the rain gear, but not everybody was, and you know, we have got to represent all 12 players and 12 caddies, as well."

-- Sam Weinman

More from The Loop