April 8, 2006

Masters play to resume at Augusta

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

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

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

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.

Only 25 players of the 47 who made the halfway cut had
completed at least a hole when play was suspended at a wet and
overcast Augusta National.


American Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, was two
under for the round after 12 holes playing at the back of the
field with a non-competing marker.

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 2:50 p.m. on

After the first two rounds 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.