The Masters: Monday practice cancelled after thunderstorm

Monday practice at The Masters was cancelled for the first time in 11 years due to a thunderstorm at Augusta National which had everyone looking for cover.

Organisers were left with no option but to call players and the thousands of disappointed patrons off the course due to the severity of the conditions.

The bad weather had been expected but arrived earlier than previously forecast, leading to an announcement at 10am asking spectators to leave the grounds and seek shelter.

Tournament officials then announced at lunchtime that the gates would remain closed for the remainder of the day – the first time that had happened since the same day way back in 2003.

The disappointed spectators will receive refunds in May and are also guaranteed the opportunity to purchase tickets for practice rounds in 2015.

Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said: "We are disappointed that our patrons could not enjoy today's practice round, however safety must be our first concern. We look forward to seeing these patrons next year."

Around 30 players had taken to the golf course, including the likes of Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Martin Kaymer and world number four Jason Day.

Rory McIlroy spent around 90 minutes on the practice range before leaving the golf course. There was, however, one player who was unaffected by the sour downturn in the weather, and that was England’s Lee Westwood, whose approach of not arriving at Augusta until Tuesday paid dividends.

Responding to a question about the weather on Twitter, Westwood wrote: "No idea about Augusta but it's lovely in Florida."

Weather forecasts issued at 8:30am local time said the expected rainfall had started to “surge eastward towards Augusta National…as a result the starting times of the rain and thunderstorms have been shifted earlier a few hours.

"Rain and embedded thunderstorms will occur from late this morning through the early afternoon hours, before a break develops by the late afternoon.

"This should limit most of the stronger thunderstorm activity, but heavy rain, blustery conditions and occasional lightning can be expected as this moves through."

The Masters Tournament kicks off this Thursday.