AUGUSTA, Ga. — Weather was supposed to be the big story Saturday for the third round of the Masters, except that the big rainstorm that was expected to disrupt play, never materialized.
For several days, everyone was pointing toward the Saturday weather forecast, and, as late as Friday evening, it looked like it would rain for much of the day, with a 90 percent forecast for the afternoon.
The hardest rain came in the morning and affected some of the early groups, but it was not as bad as predicted, and it just stayed cloudy and cool for much of the afternoon.
The early rain seemed to affect Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who were playing in two of the early groups. Mickelson hit his opening drive deep into the woods and then whiffed on his second shot before making a triple bogey. Then, he bogeyed the second hole before settling down and finishing with a 74 for a 223 total.
Woods started with bogeys on the first two holes, but he birdied 6 and 8 to get back to even-par. He also played the back nine even with a bogey at 15 and birdie at 16, which left him at 4-over 220 for the tournament in a tie for 39th place.
The rain held off until 4:30 local time when a steady drizzle continued for more than an hour, but it didn’t affect many golfers. If anything, it made the course softer and more playable as three golfers, Rory McIlroy, Ricky Fowler and Jon Rahm, each shot 65s, the lowest scores in this year’s tournament.
The forecast for Sunday calls for no rain and temperatures in the mid-60s.
AUGUSTA’S WOMEN”S EVENT: For the past 85 years, the Masters has been the only tournament played at Augusta National.
That will change next year with the advent of a new tournament next year, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, which will be played the week before the Masters.
The tournament will feature 72 of the top women’s players in the world with the final round being held at Augusta the Saturday before the Masters. The first two rounds will be played at another course in Augusta, Champions Retreat.
New chairman of Augusta National, Fred Ridley, made the announcement earlier in the week.
“This championship will become an exciting addition to the Masters week, and it furthers our effort to promote the sport and inspire young women to take up the game,” Ridley said.
Besides the Women’s tournament, Augusta will continue to host the Drive, Chip and Putt national finals, featuring 40 boys and 40 girls ages 7 to 15 for a competition the Sunday before the Masters.
MASTERS NOTES: Fred Couples, the 1992 champion, who made the cut for the 30th time in 33 tries, finished with a 73 Saturday for a 219 total that left him in a tie for 36th place. The 58-year-old Couples is tied with 60-year-old Bernhard Langer, the 1993 winner. The Masters field includes 87 golfers representing 20 different countries. Only one of the six amateur golfers in the tourney made the cut, University of Texas golfer Doug Ghim, who stands at 222. The hardest hole at Augusta National this week has been the par-4 11th hole with an average of 4.46 strokes. Patrick Reed will be trying to become the first golfer to score in the 60s at the Masters for all four rounds.