Rory McIlroy’s hopes of winning the Masters this year appear to be dashed after a stormy day two at Augusta National saw play stopped short and fans avoid injury from fallen trees.
Three trees toppled on the 17th tee just moments before play was halted in Georgia due to electrical storms.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy recorded a 77, putting him at five over par, with the cut expected to be two over.
Brooks Koepka is the early leader on 12 under, followed by amateur Sam Bennett on eight under.
After a five-under 67 on Friday, American Koepka pulled clear of the pack, joining overnight leaders Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland.
With a four-under 68, Bennett, a 23-year-old American making his Masters debut, is his nearest opponent in the clubhouse.
Rahm birdied the eighth and ninth holes to reach nine under before the round was called off, while Hovland is at six under after ten holes.
Collin Morikawa, the 2021 Open champion, had a 69 to get to six under, with American Ryder Cup teammate Jordan Spieth – the 2015 winner – and Australia’s former world number one Jason Day a shot back on five under.
Scottie Scheffler, the defending champion and world number one, struggled with the putter, carding a three-over 75 to finish on one under.
Fans are safe after trees fall.
The early starters completed their rounds at Augusta National before play was halted twice due to inclement weather.
The first interruption occurred at 15:10 local time (20:10 BST), although the threat was short-lived, as play resumed after a 20-minute break.
Winds became very gusty, causing three trees to fall down the edge of the 17th hole, where many patrons were seated and forced to move swiftly.
Officials in Augusta confirmed there were no injuries.
“The safety and well-being of everyone attending the Masters Tournament will always be the club’s main priority,” organizers stated.
A horn sounded soon after the trees fell to halt play, and another shortly after at 16:25 (21:25 BST) to signal the return of thunderstorms in the region – just as Scottish veteran Sandy Lyle was about to take his final putt of his brilliant career.
Lyle, 65, was the first British player to win the Masters in 1988, and he recently announced his retirement after returning to the site of one of his greatest wins.
He is one of 39 players who must return on Saturday to complete their second rounds after play was put off at 17:46 local time (22:46 BST).
The lengthy delay could provide a significant edge to those already in a clubhouse.
On Saturday, heavy rain, greater gusts, and cooler temperatures are expected, which could be decisive in determining who gets the prestigious Green Jacket.
There have only been five Monday finishers in the Masters’ 89-year history, but with better weather expected on Sunday, this might be the first since 1983.
McIlroy squanders another Masters opportunity.
Much of the hype leading up to one of the most thrilling weeks in sports revolved around McIlroy’s chances of ultimately completing a career Grand Slam.
The 33-year-old won the last of his four majors in 2014, and a victory at the Masters would make him only the sixth man in history to complete a clean sweep.
With him ranked second in the world and four PGA Tour victories in the last ten months, many thought this would be the year he attained golfing immortality.
McIlroy cut a casual yet concentrated figure in the build-up, but he appeared tense throughout a second round that began with four bogeys in the first seven holes.
Another bogey on the par-four 11th was caused by dragging his approach left into the pond, leaving him shaking his head in frustration as missing the cut became more possible.
Birdies on the par-five 13th and 15th holes provided some relief, but any dreams of a late comeback were shattered by bogeys on the 16th and 18th.
Without a miracle, it appears that one of the pre-tournament favorites, along with Scheffler and Rahm, will miss the weekend.
McIlroy’s rare unwillingness to conduct any post-round interviews revealed the extent of his disappointment.