It may be more associated with sweltering temperatures, arid land and cacti than snow. But a rare blanket of the white stuff stopped some of the world's most famous golfers teeing off at a major tournament in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday.
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© Reuters
Camouflage: The white flag on the 18th green can barely be seen through the snow
Instead of the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods gracing the greens, snowmen occupied the course at the Ritz Carlton Club in Dove Mountain.

And normally used to lugging around the pros clubs, the players' caddies enjoyed an hour long snowball fight in the course car park.

Even American golfer Rickie Fowler joined in the fun firing snowballs.

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This year's championship is a far cry from last year's tournament which saw American Hunter Mahan run out the winner in glorious weather.

World number one golfer Rory McIlroy came second last year.

This year he had time to tweet about the adverse weather conditions at the course on the edge of the Tortolita Mountain park.

He said: 'Snow coming down again! More like Alaska than Arizona!!'

Golfer Chris Wood, who hails from Bristol and whose first European Tour title came in the warmth of Qatar four weeks ago, said: 'It's like playing at home in January. It was cold when we teed off and then got colder.'

Less than four hours play had been completed when the snow fell with not one of the tournament's 32 first round matches completed when play was halted.

None of the top seeds, McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Luke Donald, had played a stroke.

The city is hardly known for its wintery climate.

Just 11 inches of rain fall each year and temperatures hit almost 40C at the height of the summer months.

Even February only sees temperatures drop to a minimum low of 5C with the monthly high sometimes soaring as high as 20C - around the same average maximum temperature as the UK in July or August.

Although snow is not unheard of in the state, it is still rare.

Meteorologist and weather blogger for the New York Times Eric Holthaus said that an accumulation of snow in the city is 'nearly unprecedented.'

According to the US National Weather Service there have been just 71 days of measurable snow - where it is 0.1 inches or deeper - since records began in 1894.

It has snowed at all just 165 times.

The last time snowfall was recorded in the city was February 27 2011 with the last settled snow more than 11 years ago on January 30 2002 when 0.6 inches of snow settled.