Augusta - Severe thunderstorms shortened Monday's first
official practice session for the 81st Masters, but the outlook brightened for
Australia's Jason Day ahead of the year's first major.
World number three Day played nine holes at Augusta National,
his fourth consecutive day on the fabled course, before it was closed in the
early afternoon when the area fell under a tornado warning.
Day withdrew from the World Golf Championships Match-Play
event two weeks ago to be with his mother, Dening, as she faced cancer surgery.
Her uncertain prognosis through chemotherapy kept his status in doubt for the
But Day said on Monday that his mother is improving and she
might even be at the course on the weekend to watch him compete for the green
"She's good," Day said. "She had the left
quarter of her lung taken out... I was with her pretty much every day back
home. She is in a fair amount of pain but hopefully things are looking
A severe thunderstorm closed the course for more than an hour
and forced evacuation of the course even before the tornado warning shut down
the course the remainder of the day.
Heavy rains and strong thunderstorms are expected again on
Wednesday on the eve of the opening round, which could soften the greens and lead
to more showers for early starters on Thursday.
After that, the forecast is for dry conditions at Augusta
National, where weather has not suspended play since the third round in 2008
and not postponed a round since the opening round in 2003.
Even if greens and fairways are more receptive, it's likely
the lightning-fast trademark putting surfaces will be back at full speed for
Sunday's final round.
"You've got to hit the shots in the right spots,"
warns world number one Dustin Johnson.
Among the newcomers hoping to become the first Masters
debutante to take a green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 is Spain's Jon
Rahm, who won his first PGA crown in January at Torrey Pines.
"A guy like Jon Rahm, obviously he has been playing
great golf. I don't see any reason why he can't go and play well or be in
contention this week and have a chance to win," said eighth-ranked Rickie
"It's not a golf course that you have to be any certain
type of player. He's shown that he can play and compete with the best. He has
already won. So it will just be him going out and learning this golf course for
One of the crucial areas to master is Amen Corner - the
noted par-4 11th, par-3 12th and par-5 13th holes. Jordan Spieth was on his way
to defending his title in Sunday's final round last year only to find a watery
grave twice into Rae's Creek and take a quadruple bogey at 12, helping
England's Danny Willett take the title.
"Yeah, it's a really good stretch of golf especially
with the way the forecast is looking for Thursday and Friday," said 2016
PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker.
"The winds look like they're going to pretty gnarly,
and that's a section of the course that gets really tough, especially if the
wind swirls. You get through there even par, you're doing really well against
Seventh-ranked Justin Thomas says level par through the
three-hole stretch is his goal too.
"If I went through those even each day, I probably
wouldn't be complaining too much," he said.