Masters delays could result in a rare Monday finish, the first since 1983
The Masters have rather routinely been delayed due to inclement weather. But to suspend play by a whole day would be an extremely rare feat. PIC: Mark Baker/AP
A host of trees uprooted at Augusta National in the second round on Friday afternoon. It only foreboded the inclement weather to come on Magnolia Lane.
The last four Masters tournaments have seen delays due to weather. The 2023 Masters added to the "tradition" over the past few renditions. The tree incidents suspended play for the remainder of the Friday afternoon session. The rest of the groups that didn't complete their rounds Friday were scheduled to finish on Saturday morning - some up to 9 holes - and all were able to finish. But the Saturday rounds were delayed for the rest of the day after the gloomy 47-degree afternoon continued to produce steady rain throughout eastern Georgia.
When play was delayed Saturday, Brooks Koepka, who led all golfers with a -13 clip, was only through six holes of his third round. Jon Rahm and Sam Bennett, who played in the resurgent Koepka's group on Saturday, were at -9 and -6 respectively.
So the question begs itself - with 30 holes left to play, are we really going to see the 2023 Masters finish on time?
To re-live the last time a Masters finished on Monday, let's go back to 1983. Thursday went off without a hitch, but Friday was totally washed out due to nationwide flooding and heavy rains. Even Arnold Palmer, who competed in all sorts of conditions over his career, said the weather was the "worst he'd ever seen" at Augusta. With the split-tee delayed start to the second round on Saturday, and with two groups not even finished with round two after daylight ran out, the Masters' rule-makers had a choice: play more than 36 holes on Sunday, or buy themselves an extra day.
And so, after much debate, it became the latter. The two groups that didn't finish their 36th hole played it out on Sunday morning, and the rest of the field was off to the races. In the end, it was Spaniard Seve Ballesteros who donned the Green Jacket for the second time in four years, having won it all in 1980 as well. This marked one of nine total wins Ballesteros would have on the PGA Tour before being suspended for not competing in enough tournaments. Ballesteros went on to win over 50 tournaments on the European Tour, which still remains an all-time record.
Seve Ballesteros took home two Masters Green Jackets; one in 1980 and 1983. PIC: Augusta National/Getty Images
Before 1983, the last Monday finish was on 1973. Before then, 1961. 1938 and 1936 were the others, bringing the total to only five Masters that have finished later than Sunday evening.
Of course, technology has progressed significantly since 1983, which has curtailed the need to finish past Sunday. Augusta, over-time, implemented their groundbreaking "sub air" technology, which essentially serves as a massive vacuum cleaner to remove moisture from the grass and encourage new growth so that the playing surfaces remain as dry and true as possible.
A superintendent that is on-property at Augusta National - who remained anonymous - went on-record to media saying that there would need to be 4 inches or more of rain in a 24-hour period for the Masters to be in jeopardy of finishing on-time. And even then, he said, it's more than likely they'd still be able to get it off.
Sunday's forecast looks good - and for the record, so does Monday's. We'll see if the Augusta National staff can get the course in playing condition by sunrise. If not, we may get a reprise of the extremely-rare Monday finish; it would go down as only the sixth time in the 87 renditions.