East Lake under water

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PGA Tour officials must be thanking their lucky stars the field for this week’s Tour Championship has been reduced to 30.

PGA Tour officials must be thanking their lucky stars the field for this week’s Tour Championship has been reduced to 30.

This because Atlanta, home of East Lake, and most of the US Southeast has been hit by a series of relentless storms in the past few days that have closed some schools, made some major highways impassable, prompted flood warnings and have every chance of continuing into the weekend and causing some major disruptions to play.

Todd Rhinehart, executive director of The Tour Championship, reasons that the small field could be a critical issue if storms do close the course at times during the four-day FedEx Cup finale.

“If by chance we get rained out at some point, one of the best things we have going for us is that this is a 30-man field,” Rhinehart, told the media on Monday.

“We could easily make up ground by playing 36 holes in one day, if necessary.”

On Monday, though, nobody could have played any golf at East Lake, or even practiced properly.

“It’s not dire, it’s desperate,” PGA Tour agronomist Jay Sporl said when talking to reporters about the course conditions.

“Every shower from here on impacts playability. We’re at the saturation point. There is nowhere for the water to go.”

Sporl was speaking on Monday just two hours before another 90 minutes of pounding rain fell on the historic home course of early 20th Century legend Bobby Jones.

And this on a water-logged track that had already received 10 inches of rain in the last week, including two earlier on Monday morning.

Most of the bunkers have been awash four times in the past week and the latest afternoon showers turned most of the fairways into 400-yard pools.

Sporl said East Lake was so near to its flooding point, crews had had to open valves below a nearby damn to let water out of the area to prevent the growing body of water spreading.

Other surrounding golf clubs, Sporl added, have been supplying volunteer workers to help “put the course back together each day.”

But with forecasts expecting another 1 to 5 inches of rain through to Wednesday, those volunteers could be busy for quite a few more days.

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