Tuesday, September 22, 2009
East Lake Golf Club looks playable
By Bob Harig ESPN.com
ATLANTA -- The sun finally peeked through the clouds Tuesday and the quagmire that was East Lake Golf Club looked remarkably like a place fit for golf.
Few would have believed that on Monday, when heavy rain that has tormented the Atlanta area made the site of this week's Tour Championship unplayable.
East Lake Golf Club should be in shape for this week's Tour Championship after heavy rains in Atlanta.
"It was an absolute lake out there [Monday] at 4 o'clock," said Mark Russell, a rules official for the PGA Tour.
But it stopped raining on Tuesday morning and the course opened at noon for the 30 players who will compete for a $7.5 million purse and another FedEx Cup bonus pool that will pay $10 million to the overall winner.
The heavy rain started last week and dumped more than 11 inches on the area, including another 4 inches Monday. Roads were flooded, schools were closed and seven deaths were reported.
The golf tournament obviously pales in comparison but there were concerns about whether it would be able to start on time based on the level of saturation and more rain in the forecast.
But by Tuesday afternoon, the course was playable and you'd hardly know the area had endured such trauma.
"It's incredible," Russell said. "Several years ago they put a new drainage system in here and it's worked. We could play today if we had to. The greens are perfect. We're very pleasantly surprised."
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The rough had not been mowed since Sept. 14 and the fairways had not ben cut since Sept. 16 but plans were in the works to do so on Wednesday in advance of Thursday's start to the tournament.
"Maybe we take them for granted, but the players don't worry so much because we know that the greens keepers will do their job and have everything perfect by the tournament start," said Ireland's Padraig Harrington. "They'll have it ready to go, and by the end of the week it'll look and be great.
"We've seen this happen so many times where a golf course gets flooded out in the practice rounds or even in the tournament rounds, and the staff come out and do an unbelievable job and get everything looking like it never happened."
Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.