Tall pine trees fall near Masters fans; no injuries

Tall pine trees fall near Masters fans; no injuries

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Multiple towering pine trees fell near Masters patrons as storms rolled through Augusta National on Friday, though nobody was injured as the second round of the tournament ground to a halt as play stopped for the day.

Another tree also fell elsewhere on the property.

“The safety and well-being of everyone attending the Masters Tournament will always be the top priority of the club, which will continue to closely monitor weather today and through the tournament,” the Masters said in a statement.

The course had already been cleared once for 21 minutes when the first band of storms passed through the area. The air horn sounded again at 4:22 p.m. ET as another set of storms arrived, bringing heavy rains and the threat of lightning.

A few minutes prior to the horns sounding to stop play, multiple enormous pine trees fell about 10 to 15 yards ahead of the left side of the 17th tee box, sending the patrons in the area scattering for cover. Larry Mize, Min Woo Lee and amateur Harrison Crowe watched from the 16th green as the trees fell.

Adrian Meronk, Kevin Kisner and Louis Oosthuizen had already teed off on No. 17 and were on the green when the trees fell, with Kisner stepping away from his putt.

“We were cresting the fairway on 15,” said Sahith Theegala, who is playing in his first Masters. “We thought it was a scoreboard or a grandstand. We were hoping it wasn’t something that hit anybody.”

Everyone escaped harm, but the close call was evidenced by several crushed chairs beneath the fallen pines.

“I was talking to friends next to me and all of sudden we heard a crack,” said Katie Waites, a patron 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 the two fallen trees, and she had 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.

Officials rushed to get patrons off the course, and workers quickly arrived with chainsaws to begin clearing the fallen trees.

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.

Brooks Koepka was the leader at 12 under when play stopped, taking advantage of fortuitous tee times that left him in the clubhouse long before the storms arrived. Jon Rahm was three shots back in second but had nine holes still to play.

Second-round play will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday, with the third round to immediately follow.

ESPN’s Paul Gaeta and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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