April 8, 2006

Masters third round suspended at Augusta

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Play was scheduled to resume
at 5:20 p.m. local time in the U.S. Masters third round on
Saturday after a suspension of nearly four-and-a-half hours
because of the threat of lightning and thunderstorms.

Players had been on the course for 2-1/2 hours when the
sirens sounded at 1300 and the rain fell steadily for the next
three hours before the practice range was re-opened.

Organizers initially hoped the weather delay would last
approximately one hour but the proximity of lightning forced
them to put back the resumption.

With further thunderstorms and possible hail expected later
in the day, the third round will carry over into Sunday.

The Masters has been hit by the remnants of a weather
system which brought tornadoes and violent spring thunderstorms
across the central United States, killing at least 27 people.

Tournament leader Chad Campbell of the U.S., who moved
three strokes clear after firing a five-under-par 67 in the
second round, had been scheduled to tee off at 1450 on

After the first two rounds at Augusta National were played
in bright sunshine and fast-running conditions, the par-72
layout will play longer and softer over the weekend with more
receptive greens.

Rain has intervened at the last four Masters, including a
complete washout on the scheduled opening day in 2003.

Eight of the last nine editions have been hit by rain,
although a Monday finish has not been needed at Augusta since
1983, when Spaniard Seve Ballesteros claimed his second green

Sunday's weather forecast is optimistic, with dry and
partly sunny conditions expected.