GOLF: Monday practice was a near-wipe out at Augusta as severe storms sent players and patrons scurrying for shelter just after midday.
The tail-end of a severe weather system that has sent tornadoes spiralling through the south of the US put a big dent in Masters preparations with predictions of more bad weather to come during the tournament.
The lightning siren roared just before midday and the course was closed for nearly two hours as darks clouds rolled in, thunder clapped loudly and the rain poured,
A brief break in the downpour allowed players who missed their morning session headed to the range.
But when a tornado warning was issued just before 2:30pm local time play was suspended for the entire day as safety became paramount.
That closure came after a host of leading players, including Aussies Jason Day and Marc Leishman got in nine holes to keep their swings ticking over.
Day looked in fine fettle with a series of sizzling drives playing the back nine and said he felt "happy to be here" after battling his own will to play following his mother, Dening's cancer diagnosis.
"I'm in a much better place now, I feel happy to be on the golf course, I am enjoying myself a lot more than I was in the last month," Day said after completing his fourth lot of nine holes in as many days after arriving at Augusta last Friday.
The Victorian, who broke a five year US winning drought with victory at Bay Hill last month, said predicted wet weather could help soften the course, which had been baked hard by officials wary of the inclement conditions.
"The course has been real hard and fast Sunday and Monday then the storms coming in will change things," he said.
"But I feel as though I have played here enough in different conditions that I should be fine."
World number one Dustin Johnson had his round cut short, while Aussies Adam Scott, Rod Pampling and amateur star Curtis Luck didn't get on at all.
Rickie Fowler said the predictions of wind could play in to the hands of big-hitters like himself and Johnson.
"You know, with the potential rain from today, tonight and then I know there's the other chance on Wednesday ... when you're playing this course soft, it is long from the tournament tees," he said.
"You know, being able to carry the ball and have that length is going to be a bonus."
Although the sun is expected to come out on Tuesday, more wild weather is predicted for Wednesday, the last chance for players to practice.
Showers and winds up to 50kmh are expected for the opening round on Thursday but then things should fine up before a sunny Sunday to finish.
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