Health Official Says Bacteria Related to Meningitis Caused Chitengwas Death
The 26-year-old Chitengwa, a rookie on the Canadian Tour who had a pair of top-ten finishes this season, passed away suddenly in Edmonton Saturday afternoon from meningococcemia, a strain of meningitis.
Chitengwas death has a nation in grieving. The rising golf professional, who beat Tiger Woods as an amateur in 1992, was idolized in Zimbabwe, and his home course was closed Sunday when news of his passing was announced. An autopsy was completed Tuesday and Chitengwas body is expected to be flown home within the next few days.
It has been very emotional for all who knew this special young man, said Alan Rae of Vancouver, who, along with golf legend Nick Price, were two of Chitengwas sponsors. Rae added Price, also from Zimbabwe, is devastated by the loss of his protg. Lewis was a hero in Zimbabwe.it is going to be a huge funeral. My main focus is to keep Lewis integrity intact and get him home.
Chitengwa is now resting at an Edmonton funeral home while officials make arrangements for his return to Zimbabwe. Rae said Chitengwa liked to wear a yellow golf shirt on the final day of a tournament, so it is fitting that he will be dressed in yellow for the long flight home. A Titleist golf hat and his putter will also stay with Chitengwa in the casket.
What is known in Chitengwa called an ambulance and was rushed to Misericordia Hospital at 7:10 a.m. Saturday, shortly before the third round of the TELUS Edmonton Open. Doctors didnt witness a stiff neck or a visible rash on Chitengwa, tell-tale symptoms of meningitis, and no blood tests were conducted. Chitengwa, diagnosed with flu-like symptoms, was sent to the home where he was staying. After withdrawing from the tournament, Chitengwa, who was five shots behind the leaders after Fridays second round, called friend and fellow Canadian Tour player Brennan Webb. Shortly after, Webb, seeing Chitengwa's conditions worsening, called another ambulance which rushed Chitengwa to the University of Alberta Hospital. Chitengwa arrived at the hospital at 2:15 p.m. but was pronounced dead at 2:55.
Despite every effort being made, we were unable to save Mr. Chitengwa, said Kelly Eby, the Capital Health Director of Public Affairs. Even if doctors had taken a blood sample at Misericordia, it would have taken 24 to 48 hours to get results back. As sad as it is, we would have been too late.
There have been a reported 65 cases of meningitis in Edmonton in the past year-and-a-half, three of which resulted in death. Eby said four of these cases were the type that felled Chitengwa. The bacteria can only be passed on through saliva or blood. Health officials are hoping tests will determine whether Chitengwa contacted the bacteria in Edmonton or at an earlier Tour stop in Vancouver.
I would like to stress to players, officials and anyone else that knew Mr. Chitengwa, unless there was something like the sharing of a drink, a water bottle, or a cigarette, there is no reason to panic, added Eby.
A memorial service is planned for Monday in Tennessee, where Chitengwa resided. Canadian Tour players and officials are also planning to set up a fund in Chitengwas memory. Rae said Chitengwa always wanted to set up a program to help junior golf in Zimbabwe.
More Golf News
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."