The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Elements force first round to be called off

Augusta: First-round play at the US Masters was washed out on Thursday for the first time since 1939 when tournament organisers ruled rain had made the Augusta National course unfit.

Organisers said the delayed opening round would begin with a two-tee start on Friday from 11.30 GMT with the second round, “tentatively”, to follow from 17.30.

This is the first time an entire day’s play has been washed out at the Masters since 1983, when the second round fell victim to the weather.

Augusta National has been soaked by around four inches of rain since Sunday and greenkeeping staff had been fighting an uphill task to rescue the opening day’s action. They sprayed a special drying agent on the fairways but, with further showers forecast for later in the day, the decision was taken.

Monday’s practice had been entirely washed out with the gates closed to the public for the first time in 20 years. However all the practice range facilities at Augusta remain open to the players.

“The golf course has taken just about as much water as it can take,” Will Nicholson, chairman of the Masters competition committee, said on Wednesday. However the threat of thunderstorms in the area is expected to fade by Friday.

In keeping with tradition, tournament officials have said that lifting, cleaning and placing of balls on the fairway will not be allowed this week, so players will have to bank on getting as little mud as possible on the ball.

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