(Reuters) – The PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic, scheduled to be played next month in West Virginia, has been canceled due to the devastating flooding caused by record rainfall in the state, organizers announced on Saturday.
The Old White TPC, the host course at White Sulphur Springs in Greenbrier County, suffered extensive damage from the flooding and is beyond reasonable repair to conduct the tournament, PGA Tour officials said.
“We are heartbroken by the devastation that the residents of West Virginia are experiencing at this time and the reports of lives lost due to the terrible flooding,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.
“Cancelling The Greenbrier Classic is certainly the most prudent course of action as our foremost concern is the well-being of those who are having to live through this tragic situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Earlier on Saturday, West Virginia’s governor asked for a federal major disaster declaration for three counties devastated by the state’s worst flooding in more than a century as the death toll rose to 23.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin made an expedited verbal request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid Kanawha, Greenbrier and Nicholas counties, which were severely damaged by flooding that began with torrential rainfall of to 10 inches (25.4 cm) on Thursday.
A FEMA team is expected to arrive on Saturday to assess the damage in West Virginia where more than 32,000 homes and businesses still were without power.
Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier Resort, said: “All of our focus needs to be on helping all of the people of our great State. So many have lost loved ones, their homes, and have no place to go.”
The 2016 Greenbrier Classic, which had been scheduled to be played from July 7-10, was won last year in a four-way playoff by former teenage prodigy Danny Lee of New Zealand.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Keating)