Masters resumes 2nd round after storms fell trees at Augusta


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) – The second round of the Masters resumed at Augusta National on Saturday, and there was little evidence that three towering pine trees had fallen near patrons a day earlier during storms that resulted in the suspension of play.

Nobody was hurt by the fallen pines, though they crushed several chairs where patrons had been sitting. Three separate 10-by-10 foot areas near the 16th green and 17th tee were roped off Saturday with some wood chips left from where workers had quickly cut them up. Two of the areas were covered with green gravel and another with pine straw.

Sergio Garcia teed off at the 17th as he finished his second round Saturday, and the 2017 champion strained his head over patrons as he began walking toward his shot to see where the trees once stood. Several workers around the area were still discussing what happened, and one called it “a miracle” that no one was injured or killed.

“I was standing on the right side, which is near 17, right by the back right bunker on 16 lining up my putt,” 1987 champion Larry Mize said. “Then all of a sudden, I heard it, and I looked around, and I saw the trees.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, people, get out of there,'” Mize said. “Thank goodness no one was hurt.”

Those who make the cut Saturday will have to endure more harsh weather in the third round. The cold rain was expected to last through the day, and more storms could pass through eastern Georgia. The forecast looks drier for Sunday.

“It is what it is,” said 63-year-old Fred Couples, who finished his second round Saturday at 1 over, breaking Bernhard Langer’s record for oldest player to make the cut at the Masters. “Am I going to look thrilled to play 18 holes in this this afternoon? No, I’m a wimp. I’m an old wimp. But I’m excited to play.”

The course was cleared once for 21 minutes by an early band of storms Friday. The air horns sounded again at 4:22 p.m. as another set of storms arrived, forcing the evacuation of patrons and sending players and officials searching for cover.

Play was suspended for the day 90 minutes later.

Just before the second horn sounded, the three enormous pines slowly fell near the 17th tee, sending about 50 people below them scattering. On the nearby 16th green, Harrison Crowe saw the tree falling and started to backpedal in surprise, while on the 15th green, Garcia stopped and stared at what seemed to be happening in slow motion.

“We were cresting the fairway on 15. We thought it was a scoreboard or a grandstand,” said Sahith Theegala, who is playing in his first Masters. “We were hoping it wasn’t something that hit anybody.”

The uprooted pines fell slowly with two of them acting as support for the third, and that provided time for the patrons below to get out of the way. But the close call was evidenced by several crushed chairs beneath the fallen trees.

“I was talking to friends next to me and all of sudden we heard a crack,” said Katie Waites, who was attending the second round from Charleston, South Carolina. “And there were three trees across the pond, and all of a sudden we saw them falling and everybody – it was just like ants. They were like, scattering just like ants from beneath. All three fell at the same time. And then I just grabbed my friends’ hands we were like, ‘Is everyone OK?’ And it was silent.”

Waites said she saw one woman standing between two of the fallen trees, and she heard that a man had crawled out from beneath some of the limbs. Like the workers Saturday, Waites called it “absolutely a miracle” that nobody was hurt.

“The safety and well-being of everyone attending the Masters Tournament will always be the top priority,” Augusta National said in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor weather today and through the Tournament.”

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AP Sports Writers Doug Ferguson and Paul Newberry contributed to this report.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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