Six spectators were injured when lightning hit a pine tree during yesterday’s third round of the Tour Championship.
Two strikes occurred at East Lake at approximately 4.45pm local time, less than half an hour after officials had sounded the weather-warning horn at 4.17pm.
One of those strikes hit a tree close to the 16th tee. Debris from that strike injured six people. None are believed to have suffered life-threatening injuries.
Five were taken by ambulance to local hospitals for further medical attention. The sixth was treated on-site.
WATCH - LIGHTNING STRIKES EAST LAKE
WATCH...This is why you take thunderstorms seriously!— Hayden Nix (@HaydenNix) August 24, 2019
Scary situation as a t-storm developed near the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA. Golf players, as well as spectators, were seeking shelter. 4 people were reported being treated due to the lightning strike. #gawx#arwxpic.twitter.com/GQHCx2mqfG
Tour officials have been criticised for not bringing the tee times forward due to anticipated storms in the area. However, Mark Russell, a Tour vice president for rules and competition, defended the decision-making.
“We had a situation where they were pop-up thunderstorms,” he said. “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.
“I think if we [moved up tee times] every time we had a possibility of thunderstorms in the Southeast, we'd do that basically every time we played golf.”
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Play was suspended for the day following the incidents, with the final group of Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas having just completed the fifth hole.
Play will resume at 8am local time today, with the fourth round expected to begin as scheduled later in the day.
Thomas holds a one-shot lead over Koepka and Rory McIlroy, with Xander Schauffele two shots further back.