The course was cleared once for 21 minutes by an earlier band of storms. 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. The second round is scheduled to resume at 7 a.m. CDT Saturday before the third round begins.
“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.”
Just before the second horn sounded,three enormous pines slowly fellnext to each other near the 17th tee, sending those below them scattering. On the nearby 16th green, Sergio Garcia stopped and stared at what seemed to be happening in slow motion, and his playing partners Kazuki Higa and Keith Mitchell watched anxiously to see if anyone was hurt.
“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. She added that it was “absolutely a miracle” that nobody was hurt.
“Then the alarms went off and they evacuated again because of weather,” Waites said. "I called my dad. He’s a judge. And he said this time they are not going to open it back up. Get out of there now.”
Workers quickly arrived with chainsaws to begin clearing the trees away.
The storms had been expected throughout the day, and tournament officials moved all starting times up 30 minutes in the hopes of getting the second round in as scheduled. The morning dawned hot and humid, with plenty of sun, but it gave way to ominous clouds churning through from the east shortly after the lunch hour.
Rain is expected to continue throughout the weekend with high temperatures plummeting into the 50s for Saturday.
“Weather can be interesting, especially when you get storms coming in,” said defending champion Scottie Scheffler. “So we’ll see what happens.”