Dustin Johnson of the U.S. looks over the 10th green during Wednesday practice rounds for the 2017 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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World number one Dustin Johnson and top rivals Rory McIlroy and Jason Day will face brisk winds on a rain-soaked Augusta National layout when the 81st Masters begins Thursday.Johnson, having won his past three starts, is favored but Northern Ireland's second-ranked McIlroy and Australian world number three Day are among the top rivals expected to challenge the long-driving American in the 72-hole showdown.Severe thunderstorms and heavy downpours forced officials to close the course early Wednesday, cutting short the final practice sessions for the year's first men's major golf championship at the famed 7,435-yard layout.Storms are predicted to end overnight before gusting breezes of more than 20 mph (32 kph) and cool temperatures move into the area Thursday and Friday, set to play havoc with the world's greatest shotmakers.Some people relish the difficult conditions, including Aussie Marc Leishman, who shared fourth in the 2013 Masters.That should give an edge to big hitters like Johnson, in Thursday's final group, and McIlroy, who starts two groups earlier.
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