Gulbis recovering from malaria, focused on Kraft Nabisco

By Randall MellMarch 14, 2013, 1:18 am

PHOENIX – Natalie Gulbis expects to come back strong.

Gulbis, who withdrew from the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup on Tuesday night, contracted malaria while playing the LPGA’s Asian swing this past month.

“Let everyone know I’m going to be fine, I’m not critical or anything, and I am not contagious,” Gulbis told in a telephone interview from her home in Newport Beach, Calif.

Gulbis also wanted LPGA fans to know the illness wouldn’t stop her from returning to Asia for future LPGA events. In fact, in a month she said she is planning to fly to Seoul, South Korea – after the Kraft Nabisco Championship – to play in a Jimmy V charity event there.

Photo gallery: Natalie Gulbis' career

“I love playing over there,” Gulbis said. “It’s not going to change my desire to play in Asia at all.”

Gulbis expects to be at full strength in three weeks and is aiming to return to competition at the season’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco, April 4-7.

Gulbis believes she contracted malaria while playing the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago. She said she was bitten by more than one mosquito there but one particular bite on her left leg wasn’t normal.

“It swelled up and looked like it was infected,” Gulbis said.

The bite healed and Gulbis didn’t feel any symptoms, but there’s an incubation period for malaria’s onset. A week later, before the first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, Gulbis began feeling ill. She played the first round anyway, but she woke before Friday’s second round with a 104-degree fever. She withdrew there and sought medical treatment in Singapore. Initially, she was treated for flu-like symptoms but a blood test came back that Saturday in Singapore that revealed she had contracted malaria.

With doctors in Singapore treating her, Gulbis was cleared to fly home to the United States on the Monday after the HSBC Women’s Champions. She saw a specialist upon returning to her place in Newport Beach, Calif., and the treatment appeared to be working well as her strength returned last week. Gulbis played a corporate outing last Friday and practiced on Saturday and Sunday, but she woke Tuesday morning with fever and chills again.

“I relapsed,” Gulbis said.

During an LPGA player meeting Tuesday night, commissioner Mike Whan updated his membership on Gulbis’ status. He also reassured them with news that the Scottsdale Healthcare staff would be doing malaria screenings in the locker room Wednesday. Approximately 20 players, caddies and LPGA staff chose to go through the screening. Nobody other than Gulbis, however, is known to have come down with malaria.

Se Ri Pak also withdrew from the HSBC Women's Champions with flu-like symptoms, but Whan's staff contacted Pak Tuesday to make sure she didn't actually  have something worse. Pak reported she is unaffected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, malaria is a “serious' disease caused by a parasite that infects a certain kind of mosquito that feeds on human beings. The CDC reports that about 1,500 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States each year with the vast majority among travelers and immigrants returning from parts of the world where malaria transmission occurs, including South Asia.

“The good news is that malaria is very treatable,” Gulbis said.

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Watch: Tiger's drive startles strolling duck

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 7:21 pm

Tiger Woods split the eighth fairway with a 287-yard, 3-wood on Sunday and startled a duck (goose?) who was merely out and about for a stroll at PGA National.

The duck (goose?) walked away under its own power, and Woods followed up with a wedge to inside 9 feet and his third birdie of the front nine.

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Watch: Tiger's Sunday birdies at the Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 6:40 pm

One day after he left a barrage of birdie opportunities out on the golf course, Tiger Woods worked his way into red figures early on Sunday.

Seven off the pace to start the day, Woods found the first fairway, hit the first green and rolled in a 20-footer for his firist birdie of the day.

After narrowly missing a 10-footer for what would have been another circle at the par-5 third, Woods came right back at the fourth, flying an approach from 148 yards to 9 feet and finishing the job.

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New-look Korda wins after serious jaw surgery

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 6:31 pm

If the pictures of Jessica Korda from the Honda LPGA Thailand cause you to do a double-take, you're not alone.

Korda's world-class talent was on full display this week in Asia, where she won by four shots, but so too was her new-look face. The 24-year-old underwent serious jaw surgery in December, a final attempt to address a significant overbite that led to ailments ranging from facial cramping to headaches to sleep apnea.

The procedure was intense. Doctors first broke her nose, then broke her jaw in five different places - three on the top, and two on the bottom. She now has 27 screws in her face, and the physical result still requires some adjustment for a woman who now has five career LPGA wins.

"I look at pictures of myself and I don't feel like I look like that person," Korda told Golfweek. "I don't know who that is. And then I look at pictures of my old self and that doesn't look like me either."

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

The Dec. 7 surgery left Korda unable to eat, with her mother reportedly feeding her through a syringe for "weeks." Korda's facial structure before the surgery was such that she was only using 20 percent of her teeth when chewing food.

But despite returning to practice only six weeks ago and still dealing with lingering numbness in her face, Korda promptly dusted a world-class field in her first start back. She shot 25 under for the week, highlighted by a second-round 62, leaving the likes of Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn in her wake.

After a difficult winter, Korda's look may have changed but her game clearly remains unaffected.

"Coming in after surgery, I didn't know what to expect," Korda told reporters. "Obviously when I look at myself, I still don't feel like I look like myself yet. That will come. I'm just very, very happy. All the hard work I was putting in in the off-season when I could has paid off rather quickly."

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.