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Masters 2023: Rory McIlroy is destined to miss the cut as Brooks Koepka takes the lead at rainy Augusta.

Rory McIlroy’s hopes of winning the Masters appear to be dashed this year after a rainy day two at Augusta National saw play stopped short and fans avoid injury from fallen trees.

Three trees toppled on the 17th tee, just moments before play was halted in Georgia due to electrical storms.

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy fired a 77, putting him at five over par, with the cut expected to be two over.

Brooks Koepka leads on 12 under, followed by amateur Sam Bennett on eight under.

After a five-under 67 on Friday, American Koepka, one of three overnight leaders along with Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland, pulled clear of the pack.

Bennett, a 23-year-old American making his Masters debut, is his nearest opponent in the clubhouse after a four-under 68.

Rahm birdied the eighth and ninth holes to get to nine under before play was paused, while Hovland stands at six under after ten holes.

Collin Morikawa, the 2021 Open champion, had another 69 to get to six under, with his American Ryder Cup teammate Jordan Spieth – the 2015 winner – and Australia’s former world number one Jason Day a shot back on five under.

Defending champion and world number one Scottie Scheffler struggled with the putter, carding a three-over 75 to finish on one under.

Fans dodge injuries after trees fall

The early starters completed their rounds at Augusta National before play was stopped twice due to inclement weather.

The first delay occurred at 15:10 local time (20:10 BST), however the threat passed swiftly, and play resumed after a 20-minute break.

Three trees fell at the side of the 17th hole, where several patrons were seated, forcing them to move swiftly.

Officials in Augusta confirmed that no one was hurt.

“The safety and well-being of everyone attending the Masters Tournament will always be the club’s main priority,” the organizers stressed.

A horn sounded immediately after the trees fell to pause play, and another shortly after at 16:25 (21:25 BST) to signal the return of thunderstorms in the region – just as Scottish veteran Sandy Lyle was about to take his final putt of his brilliant career.

Lyle, 65, became the first British player to win the Masters in 1988 and just announced his retirement after returning to the site of one of his greatest wins.

He is one of 39 players who must return to finish their second rounds on Saturday after play was put off at 17:46 local time (22:46 BST).

The lengthy delay could provide a significant edge to those who are already in a clubhouse.

On Saturday, heavy rain, greater gusts, and cooler temperatures are expected, which could be crucial in determining who gets the prestigious Green Jacket.

There have only been five Monday endings in the Masters’ 89-year history, but with sunnier weather expected on Sunday, this might be the first since 1983.

Another Masters opportunity slips by a somber McIlroy.

Much of the hype leading up to one of the most thrilling weeks in sports revolved around McIlroy’s chances of completing a career Grand Slam.

The 33-year-old won the last of his four majors in 2014, and a win at the Masters would make him only the sixth man in history to complete a clean sweep.

Many thought this would be the year he attained golfing immortality, as he was ranked second in the world and had four PGA Tour victories in the previous ten months.

McIlroy cut a casual yet focused figure in the build-up, but he was overtaken by tension during a second round that began with four bogeys in the first seven holes.

Another bogey on the par-four 11th was caused by dragging his approach left into the pond, leaving him exasperatedly shaking his head as missing the cut became increasingly possible.

There was some relief in the form of birdies on the par-five 13th and 15th holes, but any dreams of a late comeback were crushed with bogeys on the 16th and 18th.

Without a miracle, that means that one of the pre-tournament favorites, along with Scheffler and Rahm, will miss the weekend.

McIlroy’s rare unwillingness to conduct any post-round interviews revealed the magnitude of his unhappiness.

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