Weather claims many victims at Masters, but so far not Brooks Koepka or Jon Rahm

AUGUSTA, Ga. — When Jon Rahm hit his tee shot to start his second round at this year’s Masters, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the low 80s.

By the time Rahm completed his round about 20 hours later, rain was falling and the mercury plummeted more than 30 degrees into the high 40s.

Welcome to Augusta National in the springtime.

A wild — and frightening — 24 hours turned Augusta National from a dry, fast track the first two rounds into a sloppy mess Saturday. Conditions were so ripe Thursday and Friday that it helped two players (Brooks Koepka and Rahm, who got in nine holes Friday before play was halted) get to double digits under par through 36 holes for the first time in Masters history.

While few managed to survive Saturday without being scarred, one of those was Koepka who is seeking to win his fifth major, and first Masters, in wire-to-wire fashion.

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Koepka marked his ball on the seventh green when play was suspended for the day with a four-shot lead over Rahm, who bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes, and needing to make an 11-footer for par. He was one of 11 players under par for the round when it was called.

At the time, the round was playing 53-over par. The first round was played in 33-over par.

“It’s obviously super difficult,” Koepka said. “Ball’s not going anywhere. You’ve got rain to deal with, and it’s freezing cold. It doesn’t make it easy.

“You’ve got to make some pressure putts. You know it was going to be a difficult day. You’ve just got to grind through it and try to salvage something.”

Now, Koepka and Rahm are faced with playing 29 holes (plus a putt or two) Sunday.

“I’m not too concerned,” Koepka said. “It’s part of the deal. I’m pretty sure I’ll be up for it considering it is the Masters. So I don’t think anybody should have a problem with that.”

Players went from sweating through their logo-covered golf shirts Thursday and Friday to seeking warmth in their pullovers and waterproof pants Saturday. Oversized commercialized Umbrellas were essential.

Still, the mood Saturday was one of relief and thanks after the harrowing videos of three trees toppling near the 17th tee box during play Friday started making their way around social media.

The fact that no one was injured, or worse, was miraculous. It started with one pine tree coming down after being caught in a wind gust and taking down two others as it fell to the ground.

The large root ball sticking out of the ground reminded one of trees being blown down during a hurricane.

The trees crushed several green Masters portable chairs that thankfully were empty. They stretched across the 17th tee box, leaving a divot unlike anything seen on a golf course.

Golfers in the area were shaken but relieved when it was learned everyone escaped unharmed, many jumping from their chairs as they heard branches cracking and dashing away from the landing area.

“We were walking up 13 fairway and we heard the screams and it sounded like a grandstand (collapsing) to us, which was really strange,” Seamus Power said. “I mean, it’s so … I’m just so happy that everyone was okay and unhurt, which was shocking. I mean, you saw the mark on the ground even across 17 there … amazing that mainly that everyone’s okay.”

Others echoed Power’s grand stand analogy.

“It sounded like a grandstand blew over, super loud,” said Sergio Garcia, who was on the green at 15.

Play was suspended minutes later before being called for the day. Those forced to return early Saturday to conclude their round woke up to a different world weather wise.

“The ball just goes nowhere,” Victor Hovland said after completing his second round. “You know that nothing’s going to be given to you and you’re going to have to hit good shots upon good shots upon good shots.”

Which means playing right into the rejuvenated Koepka’s hands.

The Jupiter resident started the day at 12 under, birdied the par-5 second hole putting his second shot within 21 yards and getting up and down, and picked up his ball at 13 under on a green that was starting to flood.

“That seventh green was soaked,” he said. “It was very tough. I thought I hit a good bunker shot, and it looked like it just skidded on the water. So I’m glad we stopped.”

Tiger Woods’ bizarre day saw him outside the cut line as he concluded the second round and then climbing back inside for his record-tying 23rd consecutive cut, thanks to the misfortune of his close friend Justin Thomas.

Tiger was 3 over when Thomas missed an 8-foot put on No. 17, pushing the cut line from plus-2 to plus-3.

Now Thomas had to par No. 18 to continue playing but with conditions worsening, he could not sink a 10-foot par putt. Thomas had to be consoled on the green by his caddie, Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay.

In the end, Tiger might have been wishing his buddy never did him that favor. After double bogies on No. 15 and No. 16 (he started the round on No. 10), Tiger was 9 over through seven holes when play was suspended.

He wasn’t alone, Tiger and Dustin Johnson were six over for the round before being mercifully rescued by the weather.

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