Third round suspended at TOUR Championship; six injured following lightning strike
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ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 24: The clubhouse is seen during a suspension of play due to inclement weather during the third round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 24, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Tyler Dennis and Mark Russell address suspension of play at TOUR Championship
Updated PGA TOUR Statement, 9 a.m. ET, 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.
ATLANTA – Saturday’s third round of the TOUR Championship was suspended after six fans were injured following a lightning strike at East Lake Golf Club. Play was suspended for the day and will resume at 8 a.m. Sunday morning.
A storm caused play to be halted at 4:17 p.m. Saturday, shortly after the final group of Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka completed the fifth hole. There were two lightning strikes 28 minutes later. One strike occurred near the maintenance area, while another struck a tree near the 16th tee. Debris from that strike injured six people.
Five fans were transported from the property via ambulance to area hospitals for further medical attention. One other fan was treated and released on-site and did not require transportation to a hospital.
When play resumes at 8 a.m. ET, Thomas will hold the lead at 12-under-par, one shot ahead of Koepka and Rory McIlroy. Xander Schauffele is in fourth place, two shots back.
The fourth round will begin as scheduled Sunday afternoon.
The final group teed off at 3:20 p.m. on Saturday. There was a chance of storms Saturday afternoon, but they were expected to be brief, “pop-up” storms that would be small and short in duration.
“Forecasting the weather, the safety that goes along with it, that is critical to us,” said Tyler Dennis, the PGA TOUR’s Chief of Operations. “We have a lot of scenarios throughout the year where … there's a very high degree of certainty that there will be storms coming. And there's a lot of other days when we look at it and we see, as it was today -- I believe it was a 50-60% percent chance of storms from 3:00 to 6:00 this afternoon -- and we just have to evaluate it and make our best decision when we make the schedule.
“Obviously when it comes down to suspension of play … we don't leave any room for error there. Safety is a huge priority for us.”
Scoreboards informed fans that inclement weather was approaching the course, and fans were asked to evacuate the course when play is suspended.
“When we suspend play, we encourage everybody to leave and take shelter anywhere they can,” said Mark Russell, the PGA TOUR’s Vice Presidents of Rules & Competition. “We opened up hospitality areas that are grounded, a lot of other places like that. You've got a lot of people, and you have to do that quickly.”