Thunderstorms could affect third round at Masters

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The third round at the Masters started under a blanket of clouds on Saturday, with thunderstorms forecast as likely to arrive late in the afternoon while the leaders are on the back nine.

Not a drop of rain has fallen all week at Augusta National, allowing officials to get the course into the preferred firm condition for the most exacting test.

Halfway leader Justin Rose, at seven-under-par 137, tees off at 2.20 p.m. local time (1820) with rookie Will Zalatoris.

Weather forecasters predict about a 60% chance that storms will pass through the area at about 5 p.m. before clearing out within a couple of hours.

Englishman Rose compiled nine birdies on the back nine in the first two rounds, tied for the most at the Masters in the last 30 years.

In the process he became the first player to lead outright after each of the first two rounds since Jordan Spieth in 2016.

There have been five wire-to-wire winners at Augusta National — Spieth in 2015, Raymond Floyd (1976), Jack Nicklaus (1972), Arnold Palmer (1960) and Craig Wood (1941).

Winner of one major in 66 appearances, the 2013 U.S. Open, Rose has an excellent record at the Masters without closing the deal.

Of his five top-10 finishes, he came closest to earning a Green Jacket in 2017, suffering a playoff loss to Sergio Garcia.

Ten players are within three shots of Rose starting the round, including Zalatoris and fellow American Brian Harman, who are one behind, with Spieth and Marc Leishman two back.