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Irish golf fan 'battered and bruised' after lightning strike at US golf event

An Irish golf fan was left "battered and bruised" after a lightning strike hit a tree he was sheltering under during a PGA Tour event in the US.

Six people were injured after the area was showered with debris when the strike hit the top of the 60-foot pine tree during the PGA Tour event in Atlanta on Saturday.

19-year-old Ryan Murphy from Cookstown in Co Tyrone had been following Rory McIlroy at the FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club when he and other fans sought shelter from a storm.

The strike hit the top of the tree just off the 16th tee and shattered the bark all the way to the bottom.

The teenager and five others were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and released on Saturday night.

Ryan's father Terry said his son was "a bit shaken up" following the incident and was now looking forward to coming home.

"I spoke to Ryan and he explained he was at the base of the tree when it was struck and they were just blown off their feet unconscious," he wrote on Facebook.

You never ever think you're going to get that gut-wrenching call.

Footage from the event showed the dramatic moment the huge bolt struck the tree, and Terry said they were "so thankful he's alive" after seeing the video.

"Hard to deal with when it’s on the other side of the world but our little community stretches right around the world and the help was amazing," he said.

He thanked people from the Tour Championship, as well as friends and family, for their help following the incident, and said they were now arranging for Ryan to come home.

Terry told the BBC yesterday that when he heard the news of the lightning strike, he "felt it in my gut" that something was wrong and tried to call his son.

After attempts to reach Ryan, Terry began calling hospitals and eventually got in contact with him when a nurse answered the phone.

Ryan told his father he had been sheltering under the tree when the lightning struck and woke up "yards away" being attended to by emergency personnel.

The avid golfer and member of Killymoon Golf Club is due to begin studying structural engineering with architecture in Queen's University shortly.

Terry told the BBC that Ryan has had to cancel plans to visit New York and San Francisco before term begins, but despite this disappointment, "he's alive" and that's the most important thing.

Ryan is hoping to come home tomorrow after missing out on Rory McIlroy's $15m win at the championship yesterday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.