Three trees fell over hear the 17th hole during the second round, narrowly missing fans, but causing play to be halted for the day

87th Masters: Koepka storms into three-shot lead as falling trees cut short second round

Brooks Koepka opened up a three-stroke lead on the field in a tumultuous day at the 87th Masters which saw the second round halted when a mini tornado hit Augusta National, causing three huge pine trees to come down by the 17th tee, narrowly avoiding a major disaster, although fortunately no players or spectators were injured.

The forecast electrical storm failed to fully materialise, but there was enough rain to suspend play for 20 minutes at 3.10pm, before strong gust of wind then caused three 100-foot pines to come crashing down just yards from where hundreds of fans were watching the action on Augusta’s 16th and 17th holes. The dramatic action was caught live on air, and it was only pure luck which prevented fatalities and serious injury.

A horn sounded immediately after the trees had fallen to suspend play and another followed shortly after at 4.25pm to signal the return of thunderstorms in the area. Play for the day was eventually called off at 5.45pm.

Brooks Koepka is leading by three shots, but half the field has yet to complete their second round after a storm halted play

With 39 players still yet to complete their second round, the half-way cut is yet to be known, although it is likely to be around +3, which will rule out pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy, who slumped to a second round 77 to finish on +5, ending what slight hopes his supporters would have harboured of the 33-year-old Northern Irishman achieving the career grand slam this year, or ending a drought in the majors that goes back to 2014.

But none of that will bother LIV golfer Brooks Koepka, who added a second round 67 to his opening 65 to lead on 12 under from Jon Rahm on -9 and surprise package Sam Bennett, a 23-year-old American amateur making his Masters debut, who is on -8.

Rahm birdied 8 and 9 to get to nine under before play was halted, while Viktor Hovlan, who shared the first-round lead on -7, has dropped back to -6 after 10 holes.

Collin Morikawa, the 2021 Open champion, shot another 69 to move to share that spot with Hovland, with Jordan Spieth Jason Day a shot behind on five under. Day had reached -9 after 15 holes, but dropped shots at each of the last four holes as his touch with the putter deserted him. Defending champion and world number one Scottie Scheffler also struggled with the putter as he carded a three-over 75 to leave him on one under, and seemingly unlikely to be retaining his green jacket.

Heavy rain, stronger winds and colder temperatures are forecast on Saturday and could prove pivotal in deciding who wins. There have only ever been five Monday finishes in the Masters’ 89-year history but, despite sunnier weather returning on Sunday, there is the real prospect this could be the first since 1983.

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