‘Bruised and shaken and coming home’

Image copyright Ryan Murphy
Image caption Ryan had spent the summer working at a camp in Wisconsin

The father of a County Tyrone teenager, who was injured during a lightning strike at a major US golf tournament, said he had been “knocked out cold”.

Terry Murphy, from Cookstown, said his son Ryan, 19, had been following Rory McIlroy at the event in Atlanta when the “freak” incident occurred.

Mr Murphy said his son had spent the summer working in the US and the golf trip had been a year in the planning.

“He’s bruised and shaken,” he said. “And he wants to come home.”

He said they had been texting each other throughout Saturday, with Ryan providing a live running commentary of the Tour Championship.

Both are members of Killymoon Golf Club in Cookstown and Ryan had gone to Georgia on his own hoping to see a McIlroy victory.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lightning stikes a tree at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta

“I was asking what he was wearing to see if I could see him on the TV,” he said.

Ryan’s last text was about play being suspended because of storms and then when news broke about the lightning strike, Mr Murphy said he just knew something was wrong.

“I just felt it in my gut so I tried to call him,” he said.

‘He’s alive’

There was no response so the family started calling around hospitals.

The panic and the not-knowing lasted about 45 minutes. While his wife was speaking to a nurse, Ryan picked up his phone.

“I heard the beeping of machines and I knew it was medical,” he said.

“The first thing he said to me was ‘Don’t say anything to mummy’.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lightning struck a tree close to the 15th green

Ryan told his father he had been sheltering under a tree when the lightning struck and all he could remember was waking up “yards away” with the emergency services all around him.

“He’s had scans just to make sure there is no internal damage,” said his father.

Ryan was back in his hotel by Sunday afternoon and is hoping to fly home to Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

He had only finished camp a week ago and had headed to Chicago before taking a flight to Georgia.

He was due to go on to San Francisco and then New York before coming home to start at Queen’s University, where he will be studying structural engineering with architecture.

His father said it was “unfortunate” that he had to cancel his plans but “he’s alive”.

Cyril Rafferty, manager of Killymoon Golf Club, described Ryan as a prominent member of the club and said he was in “total shock” after hearing what had happened to him.

“He’s a fine young golfer, we’re just delighted to hear that he’s okay”, he added.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said it was “aware of the case” and was providing “consular assistance”.

Five other people were injured after the lightning struck a tree close to the 15th green at East Lake Golf Club.

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