Lightning strike injures six as Tour Championship delayed

Six people were injured Saturday when lightning struck a 60-foot pine at the Tour Championship and showered them with debris, Atlanta police said.

The third round of the season-ending PGA Tour event had been suspended for about 30 minutes because of storms in the area, and fans were instructed to seek shelter. The strike hit the top of the tree just off the 16th tee and shattered the bark all the way to the bottom.

Brad Uhl of Atlanta was crammed under a hospitality tent to the right of the 16th hole that was open to the public.

“There was just a big explosion and then an aftershock so strong you could feel the wind from it,” Uhl said after the last of the ambulances pulled out of the golf course. “It was just a flash out of the corner of the eye. It was raining and everyone was huddled near the tree.”

Uhl said the people on the ground were moving around before the ambulances arrived.

Atlanta Police spokesman James H. White III said five men and one female juvenile had sought shelter beneath the tree that was struck by lightning. He said they were taken to hospitals for further treatment, all of them alert, conscious and breathing.

Ambulances streamed into the private club about 6 miles east of downtown Atlanta, where 30 players are competing for the FedEx Cup and its $15 million prize. The players already had been taken into the clubhouse before lightning hit, and before long East Lake was hit with a ground-shaking clap of thunder.

Justin Thomas, who had a one-shot lead through five holes when play was halted, said players were eating in the clubhouse when “it felt like the entire clubhouse shook” from the thunder clap.

“The first I heard anything was from one of my friends who came out to watch,” Thomas said. “He said, ‘Dude, I think someone got struck by lightning right next to us.’ And then word started spreading.”

The PGA Tour canceled the rest of golf Saturday, with the round to resume at 8 a.m. Sunday, followed by the final round.

PGA Tour-sanctioned events have not had a death from lightning since the summer of 1991. One man was killed and five were injured from lightning at the U.S. Open at Hazeltine outside Minneapolis. Two months later, a man was struck and killed by lightning while walking to his car during a storm delay at the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana.

LPGA Tour: Top-ranked Jin Young Ko shot a 7-under-par 65 to grab a share of the lead with Nicole Broch Larsen (third straight 66) heading into the final round of the CP Women’s Open in Aurora, Ontario. Defending champion Brooke Henderson of Canada is another two shots back in third.

PGA Tour Champions: Fred Couples made a hole-in-one in a round of 9-under 63 and built a five-shot lead at 16-under after three rounds of the Boeing Classic, his hometown tournament in Snoqualmie, Wash., that he is trying to win for the first time. Couples made the ace on No. 9, using a 4 iron on the 203-yard hole.

European Tour: South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen birdied five of his last six holes to shoot a 6-under 64 and take a one-stroke lead at 13-under 197 into the final round of the Scandinavian Invitation in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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