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Masters forecast looking wet early, which could pose problems later in the weekend

Umbrellas could be a common sight at Augusta National early in this year's Masters. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Earlier this week, the weather forecast for the Masters did not look promising, with rain all day Thursday followed by pesky showers throughout the weekend. And while the outlook for Thursday’s first round continues to look ominous, golfers could see a fair amount of sun and above-average temperatures the rest of the weekend.

Thursday’s forecast calls for thunderstorms and heavy rain, with more consistent precipitation in the morning and scattered storms in the afternoon. Friday and Saturday, however, look much nicer, with only partly cloudy skies and slight chances of rain. Sunday could bring more showers in the morning before things clear up.

The average high temperature in Augusta this time of year is around 70, but the actual highs for the rest of this week are forecast to surpass that every day except Saturday. Wind does not look to be an issue over all four days.

Heavy rain and storms during any Masters round this year could pose a significant challenge for officials in their attempt to finish the tournament by Sunday afternoon. There’s nearly 2 1/2 fewer hours of daylight in November compared with the Masters’ usual date in April, which means organizers will have to resort to two-tee start times with morning and late-morning waves on Thursday, Friday and Sunday (when the tournament must end by 4 p.m. Eastern so CBS can televise its NFL slate).

On Thursday, the first golfers tee off at 7 a.m., which is just a few minutes after sunrise, and the second wave tees off at 11:05 a.m. The final threesomes hit the course at 12:22 p.m., and with each group probably needing five hours on average to finish its round, organizers will just be able to get everyone in before sunset at around 5:30.

That’s the plan, anyway. With Masters organizers hemmed in by the limited November sunlight (and CBS’s late-afternoon NFL commitments on Sunday), any weather delays Thursday could lead to serious schedule adjustments, perhaps even a Monday finish for just the sixth time in history and the first since 1983, when rain on Friday washed out the entire second round and set everything back a day.

The rain will make Augusta National play even longer than expected. The course already has taken on lots of water needed for its annual autumn reseeding, and now there’s plenty of rain forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. Shorter hitters are not going to get much in the way of roll on their tee shots, giving the bombers an edge.

Everyone, however, may have trouble keeping things tidy on approach if things are soggy.

“If it’s wet — obviously we’re prepared and we’ve played in tough conditions — but a golf course that requires precision like this one does, especially hitting into the greens, if there’s mud on the ball, this is very, very difficult because you lose control of the ball flight,” Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, told reporters this week. “And when you have very small targets at times to hit into, and you don’t know where the ball may go, it’s very hard.”