Female Olympic hopefuls monitoring Zika virus in Rio

By Randall MellFebruary 9, 2016, 5:00 pm

Some of the best women in golf will head to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer wondering what they risk trying to win a gold medal with the Center for Disease Control issuing travel advisories to Brazil due to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak there.

“I have been following [the developments],” Azahara Munoz told GolfChannel.com. “It’s definitely something that really concerns me, especially being outside for so many hours, and me being only 28 years old.”

Munoz, who is currently within qualification standards to represent Spain at the Olympics, was married in December. The virus, spread primarily by mosquitos, typically results in mild symptoms that include fever, fatigue and a rash that usually disappears in a week, but it is deemed particularly threatening to women of child bearing age. The virus is associated with a birth defect called microcephaly, a malady characterized by children being born with abnormally small heads and brains.

Munoz is No. 15 in the Olympic Women’s Rankings. The top 60 as of July 11 qualify for the games.

“I would go, anyway, but I really hope it does get better, or at least they come up with a solution, because it’s pretty scary,” Munoz said.

Zika virus alters Latinoamerica schedule

American Cristie Kerr, who is No. 11 in the Olympic Women’s Rankings, said she’s following news developments and is not “overly concerned” at this point.

“I will consult with my travel doctor and see what precautions I need to take,” Kerr said. “Beyond that, there’s not much you can do.”

Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko, 18, said she feels for those already stricken in that region of South America but like Kerr isn’t sure what LPGA pros can do.

“There are some things that we can’t control and that is out of our hands,” Ko said. “We still have eight months until the Olympics. It’s something we have got to keep looking at and monitor for now. I guess that’s all we can do.”

Bobby Kreusler, agent for American Lexi Thompson, who is No. 4 in the Olympic Women’s Rankings, said he is monitoring developments. Thompson turns 21 on Wednesday.

“We’re waiting for more information and doing our own research,” Kreusler said. “I don’t know how you completely avoid it, other than not going.”

LPGA chief of tour operations Heather Daly-Donofrio said the LPGA is working with the appropriate governing bodies to prepare the tour’s players for this summer’s games. 

“The LPGA is aware of recent reports regarding the Zika virus and has been gathering information while staying in close contact with the International Golf Federation (IGF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC),” Daly-Donofrio said. “All parties are closely monitoring the situation in Brazil.  The LPGA will be consulting with our medical team in the coming weeks and months to learn more about the virus and plan to educate our players accordingly.”

Reuters reported on Monday that the U.S. Olympic Committee told U.S. sports federations in a conference call that athletes and staff concerned over the Zika virus should consider not going to the Olympic Games. On Tuesday, however, the U.S. Olympic Committee strongly denied that report.

“Team USA looks forward to the Games and we did not, would not and will not prevent athletes from competing for their country should they qualify,” Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for the USOC, said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the situation through the CDC and have ongoing contact with the International Olympic Committee, the organizing officials in Rio, the World Health Organization and infectious disease specialists with expertise in tropical diseases, including the Zika virus. Additionally, we're taking steps to ensure that our delegation and those affiliated with Team USA are aware of the CDC's recommendations regarding travel to Brazil.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addressed the issues facing athletes in a news conference Monday.

“It’s very difficult to give advice to people who devoted the last X number of years training for that,” Fauci said. “What we can do, and the CDC can do, is give them the facts.

“As an infection, Zika is relatively mild ... The issues we are focusing on is the issue of pregnant women.”

The CDC has issued travel advisories cautioning pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant, to avoid traveling to areas with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks. Olympic organizers have pointed out that the games will fall during winter months in Brazil and that by the time the Olympics begin on Aug. 5, the main mosquito season will be over.

Olympic organizers’ medical director Joao Grangeiro said in an Olympic Games news conference last week that risks are minimal.

“Athletes should come to the Olympic Games,” Grangeiro said. “They are not at risk.

“We will have Summer Games, but for us it’s winter time. We will not have an epidemic or pandemic situation. We can’t say we won’t have any cases, but we see this as a minimal risk.”

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.