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.”

Getty Images

Watch: Elvis returns, whiffs golf shot at Tiger Jam

By Grill Room TeamMay 21, 2018, 12:18 am
Getty Images

Crenshaw pleased with reaction to Trinity Forest

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 12:02 am

DALLAS – Despite the tournament debut of Trinity Forest Golf Club coming to a soggy conclusion, course co-designer Ben Crenshaw is pleased with how his handiwork stood up against the field at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Crenshaw was on property for much of the week, including Sunday when tee times were delayed by four hours as a line of storms passed through the area. While the tournament’s field lacked some star power outside of headliner Jordan Spieth, Crenshaw liked what he saw even though Mother Nature didn’t exactly cooperate.

“We’re pleased. It’s off to a nice, quiet start, let’s say,” Crenshaw said. “The week started off very quiet with the wind. This course, we envision that you play it with a breeze. It sort of lends itself to a links style, playing firm and fast, and as you saw yesterday, when the wind got up the scores went up commensurately.”

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

That assessment was shared by Spieth, a Trinity Forest member who has become the tournament’s de facto host and spent much of his week surveying his fellow players for opinions about a layout that stands out among typical Tour stops.

“A lot of guys said, ‘It’s grown on me day to day, I really enjoyed it as a change of pace, I had a lot of fun playing this golf course.’ Those were lines guys were using this week, and it shouldn’t be reported any differently,” Spieth said. “It was an overwhelmingly positive outlook from the players that played.”

Crenshaw didn’t bristle as tournament leaders Aaron Wise and Marc Leishman eclipsed the mark of 20 under par, noting that he and co-designer Bill Coore simply hoped to offer a “different experience” from the usual layouts players face. With one edition in the books, he hopes that a largely positive reaction from those who made the journey will help bolster the field in 2019 and beyond.

“To me, the guys who played here this week will go over to Fort Worth, and hopefully the field at Colonial that wasn’t here would ask questions of the people who were here,” Crenshaw said. “You hope that some good word spreads.”

Getty Images

A. Jutanugarn wins Kingsmill playoff for 8th title

By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the second hole of a playoff Sunday to win the Kingsmill Championship for the second time in three years.

Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to match Nasa Hataoka (67) and In Gee Chun (68) at 14-under 199.

Jutanugarn and Hataoka both birdied the first extra hole, with Chun dropping out. Hataoka putted first on the second extra hole and missed badly before Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-footer for her eighth career victory. The 22-year-old Thai star's older sister, Moriya, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA Tour victory

Full-field scores from the Kingsmill Championship

Jutanugarn started the day two shots behind Chun and had a two-shot lead before making bogey at the par-5 15th. Hataoka, playing with Chun in the final threesome, birdied No. 15 to join Jutanugarn at 14 under, and Chun made a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to also get to 14 under.

The tournament was cut from 72 holes to 54 when rain washed out play Saturday.

Brooke Henderson closed with a 65 to finish a shot back. Megan Khang was fifth after her third straight 67.

Getty Images

Jimenez wins first Champions major at Tradition

By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 9:32 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Miguel Angel Jimenez finally got to light up a victory cigar after winning a senior major championship.

Jimenez won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. He celebrated with a big embrace from fellow Spaniard and two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who hoisted him in the air.

After a round of photos and speeches from local dignitaries, Jimenez finally got to break out the celebratory cigar.

''It's time to have a medal in my pocket and it's nice to be on the first major of the year,'' he said.

Jimenez held or shared the lead after every round, taking a three-shot edge into the final round at Greystone Golf & Country Club. The Spaniard finished at 19-under 269 for his fifth PGA Tour Champions victory.

''It's been a wonderful week,'' he said. ''My game was amazing, really.''

Full-field scores from the Regions Tradition

Steve Stricker, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers tied for second.

It was the third time Jimenez had entered the final round of a senior major with at least a share of the lead but the first one he has pulled out. He tied for third at the 2016 Senior British Open and for second at the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.

Durant and Sauers finished with matching 69s, and Stricker shot 70.

Jimenez birdied two of the final three holes including a closing putt for good measure.

Jimenez entered the day at 17 under to tie Gil Morgan's 21-year-old Tradition record through 54 holes. He got off to a rough start with an errant tee shot into a tree-lined area on his way to a bogey, but he never lost his grip on the lead.

Jimenez had three bogeys after making just one over the first three rounds, but easily held off his challengers late.

His approach on No. 18 landed right in the center of the green after Stricker's shot sailed well right into the gallery. He had rebuilt a two-stroke lead with a nice birdie putt on No. 16 while Durant and Stricker each had a bogey among the final three holes to leave Jimenez with a more comfortable cushion.

Stricker and Durant both had par on the final hole while Sauers also birdied to tie them. Durant had produced two eagles on No. 18 already in the tournament but couldn't put pressure on Jimenez with a third.

Stricker's assessment of his own performance, including a bogey on No. 17, was that he ''made quite a few mistakes.''

''Just didn't take care of my ball, really,'' he said. ''I put it in some bad spots, didn't get it up and down when I had to a few times, missed a few putts. Yeah, just didn't have it really, didn't play that good, but still had a chance coming down to the end.''

Jeff Maggert finished with a 64 and was joined at 15 under by Scott McCarron (67) and Duffy Waldorf (66).

Jimenez made a birdie putt on No. 16 one hole after falling into a tie with Stricker with a bogey. Durant faltered, too, with a bogey on No. 16.

''When (Stricker) made birdie and I make a bogey on the 15th, everything's going up again very tight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's time to hole a putt on 16, for me that makes all the difference.''

Stricker had two wins in his first four senior tour events this year and remains second on the money list. He has finished in the top five in each of his events.

Bernhard Langer finished five strokes off the lead in his bid to become the first to win the Tradition three straight years. He shot 66-67 over the final two rounds after a slow start.