Play suspended again at the 69th Masters

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The weather brought an early end to the second day's play at the 69th US Masters tournament at Augusta, Georgia on Friday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:51 IST
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The weather brought an early end to the second day's play at the 69th US Masters tournament at Augusta, Georgia on Friday, as the threat of thunderstorms forced the organisers to abandon play for the day. Following yesterday's curtailment, 68 players had to complete their first rounds on Friday morning before another storm gathered, forcing the organisers to abandon play for the second day running. Among their number, defending champion Phil Mickelson barely had the chance to complete a two under par opening round of 70 - three shots off the lead - before being called back to the clubhouse. Under par performances One of the pre-tournament favourites might be wishing he'd never turned up at all - Ernie Els suffered the ignominy of carding four bogeys and an ugly five at the par three fourth to end up with a 75 and little chance of bettering his second place of last year. Tiger Woods hardly fared much better. The three-time winner here took 6 at two of Augusta's par fives and failed to break par in his opening round for the third successive year. A 74 puts the former world number one in joint 36th place at two over. His successor as the top player in golf, Vijay Singh, dropped a shot at the 11th but five birdies elsewhere more than made up for that. The PGA Champion, who has not finished outside the top seven at the Masters since 2001, shot a 68, one shot behind a three-way lead. Other performances Justin Leonard managed to lift some of the gloom after holing this monster putt on the 14th. It was the highlight of an otherwise ordinary round though, and the winner of the Bob Hope Classic earlier this year ended the day level with Els on three over. The top of the leaderboard has a distinctly English flavour with Luke Donald and David Howell both standing at five under for the championship on their debut appearances at the Masters. Donald shot a 68 in his first round, then birdied the second hole in his second to go to five under. Howell carded a 72 before five birdies in eight holes propelled him into a share of the lead. They were both joined by Chris DiMarco, who has made a habit of starting strongly at Augusta over the years. The 37 year-old American led the 2001 event after 18 and 36 holes and went into the final day of last year's tournament level with eventuial winner Mickelson, only to finish sixth. In his opening round in 2004 he scored a hole-in-one at the sixth and he very nearly repeated that feat. Still, another birdie was safely collected - his fourth in six holes. If the weather holds, Saturday is going to be a busy day for the field of 91 players, but the organisers are still confident that the champion will be crowned - as usual - on Sunday evening. (AP)

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