Scottish duo get work done before thunderstorms and tornado sweep in

Scottish duo Russell Knox and Sandy Lyle were both weather winners on the first official practice day for the 81st Masters, getting nine holes in before a thunderstorm then a tornado threat disrupted preparations for the season's opening major.

Scotland's Sandy Lyle watches on as world No 3 Jason Day plays a shot on the 16th hole during practice at Augusta yesterday. Picture: Rob Carr/Getty
Scotland's Sandy Lyle watches on as world No 3 Jason Day plays a shot on the 16th hole during practice at Augusta yesterday. Picture: Rob Carr/Getty

Knox, who played the inward half with American duo Brian Stuard and Billy Hurley, had just sat down for an early lunch in the Grill Room in the clubhouse as a heavy shower sent everyone scampering for shelter around the course. Along with his wife, Andrea, he was then about to head for the house he’s staying in this week just before Mother Nature delivered a storm that had been predicted seven days ago. That led to the course being evacuated for two hours before a second clear-out was enforced around 3pm in the midst of a “tornado watch”.

“I was meant to get in today and practice in the afternoon, but I changed my travel plans to get in last night due to the weather forecast and I was able to get nine holes in this morning,” said Knox, a wry smile etched across his face.

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Conditions are expected to be better for today, when the 31-year-old plans to play 18 holes, but more thunderstorms are on the way on Wednesday, before the wind is set to become 
factor later in the week. Gusts of up to 35mph are forecast for Thursday’s first round and it will be testing on Friday, too.

“The forecast keeps changing every day and it seems to be getting worse,” added Knox, pictured, who is hoping to improve on a missed cut on his debut here 12 months ago. “Last year, it was pretty windy on the Thursday and Friday and it looks as though it is going to be that way again this year. If it’s going to be that windy, it is going to be hard, really hard, but I think I learned a lot from last year of how tricky the course can play. If the conditions are similar, then I should be able to put last year’s experience to good use.”

Lyle, the 1988 winner, played his nine holes in the company of Japan’s Yuta Ikeda and world No 3 Jason Day, who says he is in a “much better place” than a fortnight ago, when he broke down in tears as he explained his withdrawal from the WGC-Match Play in Texas had been down to his mother battling lung cancer.

“There’s been a lot of things go on this year that have been somewhat distracting to my golf,” Day admitted in a Golf Channel interview. “Golf was the last thing that I was ever thinking about when this first came about. I’m in a much better place now. I feel happier to be on the golf course and enjoying myself out here a lot more than I was the last month or two.

“My mind was so far away from golf that I was hitting shots out there on the golf course and I’m like, ‘What am I doing’? It would be a wedge from 140 yards, but I’d be 
20 yards out.”