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 Masters ground to a halt as play stopped for the day.
Another tree also fell elsewhere on the property.
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. 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 17th tee box, sending the patrons in the area scattering for cover. On the nearby 16th green, Sergio Garcia stopped and stared at what seemed to be happening in slow motion, and playing partners Kazuki Higa and Keith Mitchell watched anxiously to see if anyone was hurt.
“We were cresting the fairway on 15. We thought it was a scoreboard or a grandstand,” said Sahith Theegala, who is playing in his first Masters. “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.
ESPN’s Paul Gaeta and The Associated Press contributed to this report.