Weather at Masters will be as up and down as scores

It’s the epitome of spring: perfectly manicured grass, chirping birds and brightly colored azalea blooms. The Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia usually means the cold and dreary days are behind us.

But it doesn’t appear we’re out of the woods yet this year, with rain and cool weather expected over the weekend in Augusta.

A calm start

The tournament got off to a nice but chilly start Thursday morning with a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 C). It warmed up nicely — into the 60s F — but stayed below the average high of 75 F (24 C).

Friday seems to be the best day of the tournament, weather-wise. With light winds in the morning and mostly sunny skies, temperatures were to climb into the upper 70s F (23 to 26 C).

Winds were to pick up through Friday afternoon, with possible gusts of up to 20 mph, making conditions challenging during tee times.

Clouds were to increase through Friday afternoon as a storm system moving across the central United States marched south and eastward.

Stormy Saturday

Saturday will be the worst weather day at the Masters.

An approaching cold front will bring considerable cloudiness Saturday morning, and rain is expected to begin then. Tee times are starting later over the weekend because the field has been cut down after the first two rounds. Even the first players out won’t tee off until after 10 a.m., but rain could become strong enough to halt play.

Lightning will be possible Saturday afternoon as thunderstorms are likely to form. Tournament officials will be keeping an eye on any thunderstorm development, and a stoppage of play is again a likelihood.

The rain will linger through the afternoon but could ease up or end before sundown, allowing the players enough time to finish their third rounds.

A half-inch to an inch of rain is expected — a rainy day for sure but certainly not among the wettest for the Masters.

The wettest day in tournament history occurred on April 7, 1973, with 2.67 inches of rain.

Rainfall is not uncommon this time of year, with about 80% of previous tournaments seeing at least a trace of rain during the four days of play.

Championship Sunday

On five occasions the Masters has had to finish up on a Monday because of bad weather.

The tournament should be able to finish on Sunday this year, however; the rain will have moved out, and clear and cool conditions will prevail throughout the day.

A morning low in the low 40s F (4 to 6 C) and wind chill in the 30s will once again make for a chilly start, but temperatures should rebound into the low 60s by the afternoon.

Scoring conditions should be near ideal. With the course softened by Saturday’s rain, players should be able to post some low scores in their final rounds.

Winds will continue to be a bit of a challenge, mostly in the 10- to 15-mph range.

But it looks like the weather will do its part in making for a spectacular championship Sunday.