Six people were injured at East Lake Golf Club on Saturday when lightning struck a tree near the south end of the course. The incident occurred less than 30 minutes after the third round of the PGA Tour Championship had been halted due to weather concerns.
The PGA Tour released an updated statement about the accident on Sunday:
The Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta Fire and Rescue have confirmed that five individuals were injured and transported to nearby hospitals; a sixth person was treated and released at the scene. All were released from the hospital last night.
The safety and well-being of our fans and players is our highest priority, and we were with those being treated until they were released from area hospitals. We are deeply grateful that the injuries were not more serious, and we’re proud of the collective efforts of the on-site team to quickly care for our fans during this frightening incident.
Furthermore, late yesterday afternoon, officials were brought on site to assess the integrity of the pine tree that was struck and determined it to be safe. Additionally, several pieces of ShotLink equipment were damaged by the lightning and were replaced overnight.
CNN was able to get in touch with one of the spectators injured, who described how the experience felt:
Reports of terrible weather arriving in the afternoon had been swirling around the area all day on Saturday, but the Tour Championship continued with competitors’ tee times as schedule. They began at 1 p.m., with Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, the competition’s two leaders, teeing off at 3:20 p.m. Mark Russell, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competitions, more or less told ESPN that while they knew about the incoming storms, officials were playing the odds when it came to deciding on allowing play to happen.
“We had a situation where there were pop-up thunderstorms,’’ said Mark Russell, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competitions. “We have a meteorologist on staff. We can monitor that. And a lot of times we get lucky and we don’t get hit with thunderstorms, especially when it’s a situation when they’re pop-ups like that.
“Now, that’s what we were faced with. So, we’re going to see if we can deal with that. We can suspend play and get people out of here if that does happen, but a lot of times we’re on the positive side, hoping that we can play golf and get lucky and not be in the path of those thunderstorms.’’
Asked why tee times were not moved up far earlier in the day, Russell said: “I think if we did that every time we had a possibility of thunderstorms in the Southeast, we’d do that basically every time we played golf.’’
The third round resumed on Sunday at 8 a.m. and the fourth round will proceed in the afternoon, as it was originally scheduled.