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Snow-covered cactuses? Golf championship play stopped due to Arizona winter storm

Ross D. Franklin / AP

Tournament volunteers walk along the golf course after a snow storm suspended play for the day during the Match Play Championship golf tournament, on Feb. 20, in Marana, Ariz. Play was suspended for the day.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Snow covers a cholla cactus during a snow storm at the Match Play Championship golf tournament, on Feb. 20, in Marana, Ariz. Play was suspended for the day.

By Mark Lamport-Stokes, Reuters

 Dove Mountain looked more like a winter wonderland than a golfing venue after driving snow forced play to be abandoned in the opening round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday.

Just over three-and-a-half hours of golf was possible on a bitterly cold and breezy morning before rain, sleet and then snow led to matches being suspended at the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event.

Ice formed on the greens and, with further snow showers forecast for the rest of the day in Arizona's high desert, officials called off play for the day after waiting a couple of hours to re-evaluate conditions.

Almost two inches of snow covered the entire course, driving range and practice putting green at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club after all but 10 matches had started with none finishing.

"Once we got two inches of snow, even if it melted in the next hour or so, it would still take another hour-and-a-half ... to let the golf course drain where we could play," Mark Russell, the PGA Tour's vice president of rules and competition, said.

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Ross D. Franklin / AP

A spectator walks past a snowman made on a fairway after the first round of the Match Play Championship golf tournament was suspended due to snow Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Marana, Ariz.

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