One of the year's biggest sporting events and springtime traditions begins this week, as the world's top golfers return to Augusta, Georgia, for the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.
While golfers will look to shoot low scores to put themselves in contention, Mother Nature will challenge them with near-record high temperatures and storms during the tournament.
The weather will be warm and humid, but also unsettled for the duration of the tournament, which begins Thursday, April 9, and concludes Sunday, April 12. A cold front will be heading through Augusta late in the week and into the weekend, causing numerous showers and thunderstorms, AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mark Paquette said.
"[There] may be some problems due to lightning Friday and Saturday," he said, adding that Thursday and Sunday look to be the best weather days of the tournament.
According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, Augusta National has its own weather center where officials can monitor severe weather developments and quickly evacuate players, spectators and staff from the course when needed.
Above-average temperatures will last throughout the entirety of the tournament. For first round play on Thursday, golfers will face near-record high temperatures as highs near 90 F, approaching the record of 91 F set in 2011.
A normal high temperature for this time of year in Augusta is around 76 F.
For the second round on Friday, Paquette said conditions look better in the morning than in the afternoon. There will be an afternoon shower or thunderstorm around, and the potential for a storm capable of producing gusty winds and hail cannot be ruled out. Record highs will be challenged again on Friday. The record high for April 10 is 90 F last reached in 2001.
Over the weekend, rain is forecast on Saturday and it could be a "nasty" day, Paquette said. Conditions will improve for the final round on Sunday with sunny skies and highs near 80.
In the event of a weather delay, a golfer's rhythm could be altered, which can be especially detrimental for a golfer in the middle of a good round. Conversely, those who might be struggling could use the weather delay to regroup and figure out how to get their game back on track.
While disruptive weather can serve as another challenge to an already daunting golf course, weather delays aren't uncommon at Augusta.
"It's a part of their world, they grow used to it, [but] you never like it," Penn State University Men's Golf Coach Greg Nye previously told AccuWeather.com.
When he attended the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, Nye said players stretched and talked to fellow competitors in the clubhouse to pass the time during a weather delay.
For the golfers, getting their bodies physically and mentally ready to resume play can be a difficult thing, especially when it comes to replicating their playing rhythm, according to Nye.
"They try to build that back up through a warmup, but that's a very hard thing to do, because it's not only a physical thing, but it's getting your mind back in that competitive place that it was at," Nye said.