Notes: Augusta doused with heavy overnight storm

Tiger Woods hits balls during a Wednesday morning fog at Augusta National.

AUGUSTA, Ga. - An already-soft Augusta National became even more so Wednesday after nearly an inch and a half of rain fell overnight in the area. Debris from the storm forced Masters officials to delay opening the front gates, from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.

Billy Payne, the chairman of Augusta National, says he expects the course to be ready for the first round of the Masters on Thursday despite a "significant" storm that downed "several" trees and left several bunkers "completely washed out."

Payne said Wednesday crews are working around the clock, and expects the course to be "restored to competitive conditions" by the end of the day.

Payne says there was significant damage to a restroom on the 16th hole, which was struck by a falling tree. But crews hoped to have it back in operation by the end of the day.

Temperatures on Wednesday are expected to rise into the mid-80s, with only a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms, according to weather.com.

The forecast for the first two rounds is dodgy. There is a 70 percent chance of precipitation in the afternoon Thursday, and a 60 percent chance of showers on Friday morning.

The weekend looks clear, however: sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

- Staff and wire reports

• • •

CALM BEFORE THE STORM: Outside of the Par 3 Contest, which will feature player families and celebrities alike, players will take it easy for the bulk of Wednesday.

There are plenty of early practice rounds on the course currently - including Tiger Woods playing with Sean O'Hair and Mark O'Meara for the second straight day - but many players are choosing to rest before the marathon starts on Thursday.

Defending Par 3 champ Luke Donald will skip the event this year, while Tiger is also taking it off.

- Nick Masuda

• • •

PAR 3 FACTOIDS: While some players are taking the Par 3 Contest off, that doesn't mean there won't be plenty of excitement on the 9-hole course.

Here are some fun facts about the contest, according to Masters.com:

• There have been 73 holes in one in the Contest's history, a record of five in 2002.

• No winner of the Par 3 Contest has ever gone on to win that year's Masters.

• The course record of 20 is shared by Art Wall (1965) and Gay Brewer (1973).

• There have been 18 sudden-death playoffs.

- Nick Masuda

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