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Heavy rain, wind could interrupt first round of Masters

The storms that prematurely ended the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National on Wednesday are likely to return during the opening round of the Masters on Thursday afternoon, possibly with heavy rain and wind gusts. Here is Augusta National's latest forecast for the tournament:

Dry weather is expected for the start of the first round tomorrow morning, but with some patchy fog in the vicinity. Thereafter, more showers and thunderstorms become likely tomorrow afternoon and into tomorrow night as a disturbance tracks through. Some of these storms may be strong with heavy downpours and gusty winds.
Showers could continue into Friday morning before gradually coming to an end with cooler and breezy weather through the day. Conditions will dramatically improve into the weekend with more seasonal temperatures and plentiful sunshine.
Those temperatures could reach into the 80s by Sunday, according to the Weather Channel. The forecast Saturday is sunny with zero chance of rain and a high temperature of 74 degrees, and Sunday will be partly cloudy and 80 degrees with just a 10 percent chance of rain. Augusta was pounded with heavy storms and an inch-and-half of rain on Tuesday night, but chairman Billy Payne said that the damage would not affect the tournament.
“We lost several trees around the golf course, none of which were significant in the context that they will impact the competition,” Payne said. “Debris was all around; took hours and hours, and the cleanup remains ongoing. We had some overrun on Rae's Creek. Thankfully it was below Hogan's Bridge and not noticeable and not impacting competition.”
Fans drinking beer by the par-3 16th might disagree. The restroom at the 16th suffered significant damage from a fallen tree, according to Payne.
Wet conditions tend to favor long hitters, who get more carry with their drives, but on Tuesday Phil Mickelson said he thought the rain might bring more players into the mix, because the more receptive greens will eliminate the course-knowledge advantage of players like him and Tiger Woods.
“When the subtleties don't come out, the experience of playing here in the past is not as important, because you don't have to fear the greens, and you don't have to know where the ball will end up, and you don't have to fear certain shots because you can get up and down from the edges,” Mickelson said. “Those shots are not as hard. Therefore, I think there's a very good chance that a young player, inexperienced, fearless player that attacks this golf course can win if you don't need to show it the proper respect.”

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by Kevin Cunningham