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World golf No.1 Day out of Olympics over Zika fears

Sydney (AFP) – World number one Jason Day on Tuesday became the latest golfer to withdraw from the Rio Olympics because of apparent fears over the Zika virus.

“It is with deep regret I announce that I will not be competing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games this coming August in Rio de Janeiro,” Australia’s Day said in a statement.

“The reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family.”

The 28-year-old father-of-two joins the likes of Northern Ireland duo Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell — both down to compete for Ireland, Fiji’s Vijay Singh, Marc Leishman of Australia and South Africa’s Branden Grace in announcing his intention not to compete at the Games starting on August 5.

The threat of the mosquito-borne virus, which can lead to birth defects, has been cited as the reason for withdrawal by a number of golfers, as the sport returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

“I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life,” said Day, who has a four-year-old son Dash, and seven-month-old daughter Lucy.

“Medical experts have confirmed that while perhaps slight, a decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and to my family.

“My wife Ellie and I have been blessed with two wonderful and healthy children and our plan is to have more.

“While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family.

“I will not place them at risk. I hope all golf and Olympics fans respect and understand my position.”

Day, who won his first major tournament at the 2015 PGA Championship, has ten career titles including this year’s Players Championship, World Golf Championships Match Play and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The World Health Organization’s emergency committee on the disease has said there is a “very low risk” of the Zika virus spreading further internationally as a result of the Olympic Games in Brazil.

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World golf No.1 Day out of Olympics over Zika fears

World No.1 golfer Day withdraws over Zika fears

(Reuters) – The world’s top-ranked golfer Jason Day on Tuesday withdrew from August’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, citing fears over the Zika virus.

“The reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” the Australian said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. I will not place them at risk,” the 28-year-old Day added.

Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, but a number of big names, including four-times major champion Rory McIlroy, Fiji’s Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, have pulled out due to Zika concerns.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause crippling birth defects and, in adults, has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre. Controversy over the Aug.5-21 Games has grown as more about the disease becomes known.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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World No.1 golfer Day withdraws over Zika fears

Olympics-World No.1 golfer Day withdraws over Zika fears

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June 28 (Reuters) – The world’s top-ranked golfer Jason Day on Tuesday withdrew from August’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, citing fears over the Zika virus.

“The reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” the Australian said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. I will not place them at risk,” the 28-year-old Day added.

Golf is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904, but a number of big names, including four-times major champion Rory McIlroy, Fiji’s Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, have pulled out due to Zika concerns.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause crippling birth defects and, in adults, has been linked to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barre. Controversy over the Aug.5-21 Games has grown as more about the disease becomes known.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Olympics-World No.1 golfer Day withdraws over Zika fears

Muirfield to hold second vote on female membership

(Reuters) – Muirfield will hold a second vote to admit female members, the golf club confirmed, after last month’s initial ballot rejected the lifting of a ban on women, leading to the historic course losing hosting rights for the British Open.

The course close to Edinburgh has retained a male-only membership policy since it was founded in 1744 and a vote in May to admit women members fell short of the required two-thirds majority.

The decision drew criticism from several top golfers, including four-times major winner Rory McIlroy, and Muirfield was removed from the list of courses that host Britain’s Open championship by tournament organizers, the Royal and Ancient.

With 64 percent of members voting in favor of admitting women in the first ballot, club captain Henry Fairweather felt a second vote would be a step towards restoring their damaged reputation.

“A substantial majority of our members voted for change and many have voiced their disappointment with the ballot result and with subsequent events,” Fairweather said in a statement.

“The club committee believes that a clear and decisive vote in favor of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the club that has been damaged by the earlier ballot outcome.”

The decision to hold a second ballot was welcomed by the Women in Sport charity.

“It is hardly surprising Muirfield’s reputation has been significantly damaged as it is clear they currently fail to offer an environment that is welcoming to all,” it said in a statement.

“While we hope a re-vote will see their membership policies brought into line with gender equality expectations of the 21st century, ensuring women receive the full benefits of this sport should have been happening far sooner.

“We hope the members of Muirfield, who have been afforded a second chance on this issue, will not make the same mistake twice.”

American Phil Mickelson won the British Open the last time it was hosted at Muirfield in 2013.

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Muirfield to hold second vote on female membership

Golf-Muirfield to hold second vote on female membership

June 28 (Reuters) – Muirfield will hold a second vote to admit female members, the golf club confirmed, after last month’s initial ballot rejected the lifting of a ban on women, leading to the historic course losing hosting rights for the British Open.

The course close to Edinburgh has retained a male-only membership policy since it was founded in 1744 and a vote in May to admit women members fell short of the required two-thirds majority.

The decision drew criticism from several top golfers, including four-times major winner Rory McIlroy, and Muirfield was removed from the list of courses that host Britain’s Open championship by tournament organisers, the Royal and Ancient.

With 64 percent of members voting in favour of admitting women in the first ballot, club captain Henry Fairweather felt a second vote would be a step towards restoring their damaged reputation.

“A substantial majority of our members voted for change and many have voiced their disappointment with the ballot result and with subsequent events,” Fairweather said in a statement.

“The club committee believes that a clear and decisive vote in favour of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the club that has been damaged by the earlier ballot outcome.”

The decision to hold a second ballot was welcomed by the Women in Sport charity.

“It is hardly surprising Muirfield’s reputation has been significantly damaged as it is clear they currently fail to offer an environment that is welcoming to all,” it said in a statement.

“While we hope a re-vote will see their membership policies brought into line with gender equality expectations of the 21st century, ensuring women receive the full benefits of this sport should have been happening far sooner.

“We hope the members of Muirfield, who have been afforded a second chance on this issue, will not make the same mistake twice.”

American Phil Mickelson won the British Open the last time it was hosted at Muirfield in 2013. (Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Golf-Muirfield to hold second vote on female membership

Golf-Playing schedule for the 2016-17 PGA Tour

June 27 (Reuters) – Tournament schedule for the 2016-17 PGA Tour: Oct. 13-16 Safeway Open, Napa, California Oct. 20-23 CIMB Classic GOLF, Kuala Lumpur Oct. 27-30 WGC-HSBC Champions, Shanghai, China Oct. 27-30 Sanderson Farms Championship, Jackson, Mississippi Nov. 3-6 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Las Vegas, Nevada Nov. 10-13 OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico Nov. 17-20 The RSM Classic, St. Simons Island, Georgia Jan. 5-8 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Kapalua, Hawaii Jan. 12-15 Sony Open, Honolulu, Hawaii Jan. 19-22 CareerBuilder Challenge, La Quinta, California Jan. 26-29 Farmers Insurance Open, San Diego, California Feb. 2-5 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Scottsdale, Azona Feb. 9-12 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Pebble Beach, California Feb. 16-19 Genesis Open, Pacific Palisades, California Feb. 23-26 Honda Classic, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida Mar. 2-5 Mexico Championship, Mexico City Mar. 9-12 Valspar Championship, Palm Harbor, Florida Mar. 16-19 Arnold Palmer Invitational, Orlando, Florida Mar. 22-26 WGC-Dell Match Play, Austin, Texas Mar. 23-26 Puerto Rico Open, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico Mar. 30-Apr. 2 Shell Houston Open, Houston, Texas Apr. 6-9 Masters, Augusta, Georgia Apr. 13-16 RBC Heritage, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina Apr. 20-23 Valero Texas Open, San Antonio, Texas Apr. 27-30 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Avondale, Louisiana May 4-7 Wells Fargo Championship, Wilmington, North Carolina May 11-14 Players Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida May 18-21 AT&T Byron Nelson, Irving, Texas May 25-28 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, Fort Worth, Texas June 1-4 Memorial tournament, Dublin, Ohio June 8-11 FedEx St. Jude Classic, Memphis, Tennessee June 15-18 U.S. Open, Hartford, Wisconsin June 22-25 Travelers Championship, Cromwell, Connecticut June 29-Aug. 2 Quicken Loans National, Bethesda, Maryland July 6-9 The Greenbrier Classic, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia July 13-16 John Deere Classic, Silvis, Illinois July 20-23 British Open, Southport, England July 20-23 Barbasol Championship, Auburn, Alabama July 27-30 RBC Canadian Open, Oakville, Ontario Aug. 3-6 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Akron, Ohio Aug. 3-6 Barracuda Championship, Reno, Nevada Aug. 10-13 PGA Championship, Charlotte, North Carolina Aug. 17-20 Wyndham Championship, Greensboro, North Carolina Aug. 24-27 The Northern Trust, Old Westbury, New York Sept. 1-4 Deutsche Bank Championship, Norton, Massachusetts Sep. 14-17 BMW Championship, Lake Forest, Illinois Sep. 21-24 Tour Championship, Atlanta, Georgia (Compiled by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Larry Fine)

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Golf-Playing schedule for the 2016-17 PGA Tour

Golf-PGA Tour back to traditional dates for 2016-17

June 27 (Reuters) – The PGA Tour will have two new title sponsors for its 2016-17 season as it reverts back to traditional dates after changes for this year to accommodate golf’s return to the Olympic Games, the Tour said on Monday.

The sport’s most lucrative circuit starts in mid-October and will comprise 47 tournaments before it concludes with the Sept. 21-24 Tour Championship in Atlanta, the last of the four prestigious FedExCup playoff events.

Supermarket chain Safeway takes over as sponsor of the season-opening Safeway Open from Oct. 13-16 at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California, while luxury car brand Genesis backs the long established event at iconic Riviera Country Club.

The newly named Genesis Open will be played at Riviera in Los Angeles from Feb. 16-19.

The elite World Golf Championship (WGC) events, one rung down from the four majors, will open with the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China in October followed by the newly named Mexico Championship in Mexico City from March 2-5.

Next up is the Dell Match Play from May 22-26 before the WGC series concludes with the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio from Aug. 3-6.

The U.S. Open will be held at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wisconsin for the first time, from June 15-18, while the British Open will return to Royal Birkdale in Lancashire, England from July 20-23.

The season’s final major, the PGA Championship, will be staged at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina from Aug. 10-13, after being brought forward to July this year due to the men’s competition at the Rio Games being played from Aug. 11-14. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)

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Golf-PGA Tour back to traditional dates for 2016-17

Woods not ready to return to action, will ‘do it right’

(Reuters) – Tiger Woods on Sunday gave the strongest indication yet that he might not return to competition this year, saying that he needed to be patient during his recovery from back surgeries.

The former world number one has not played on the PGA Tour since undergoing microdiscectomy back surgery last September and, at the age of 40, has decided not to rush his comeback.

“I am playing, just I need more time,” tournament host Woods told CBS Sports during Sunday’s final round of the Quicken Loans National in Bethesda, Maryland. “I still need to get stronger, I need to recover faster and that’s going to take time.

“I’m not a real patient person when it comes to that … pushing through some of my injuries, pushing through some of my rehab, I’ve come back and won, and won major championships doing it that way, but this one’s different.

“This one, I’m older, it takes a little longer to recover and to heal and I’m going to do it right so I don’t have another surgery.”

Woods, who has slipped in recent years due to injuries and mastering of a new swing, thought he was back to form after tying for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in August, following a dismal season in which he missed three cuts in the majors.

But three weeks later he had a second microdiscectomy surgery to alleviate pressure on a disc in his lower back, before needing another procedure on Oct. 28 on the same area due to discomfort.

Woods, who made just 11 starts on the PGA Tour last season and only seven the season before, had his first back surgery in early 2014.

Asked if he would be able to return to competition at some point this year, he replied: “I don’t know. I want to play, I don’t know if I will but I do want to.

“I am trying. Each and every day, I’m doing my workouts, sometimes three times a day. I’m working my tail off. I’ve gotten stronger, I’m a little bit faster than I used to be. All that’s a positive but I still need now to get into golf shape.

“The mental side is the easiest part. It’s trying to get my body to do what I want it to do when I want it to do it. That’s the hard part about. I’ve had three back operations on the same area so it’s not fun.”

Woods, whose world ranking has plummeted to a mind-boggling 582nd, has found it frustrating to be a television spectator while his peers are winning golf tournaments.

“I know I can still do it,” said the 14-times major champion. “It’s just that I can’t do it right now. I am giving myself the best opportunity to do that going forward.”

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both)

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Woods not ready to return to action, will ‘do it right’

Tiger says he might not play again this year

Bethesda (United States) (AFP) – Tiger Woods said Sunday he might not return to competitive golf this year following back surgery nine months ago, but he’s counting on the wait being worthwhile by producing impressive form.

The 14-time major champion updated his recovery status after Sunday’s final round of the US PGA National at Congressional Country Club, which benefits his charity foundation.

“I’m trying to get back as fast as I can,” Woods said. “It’s frustrating not being able to play, especially at my own event. I miss being out here.”

Asked if there was a chance he might not play again this year, Woods said, “I don’t know. I want to play. I don’t know if I will. But I am trying to… I’m working my tail off.”

The British Open is only three weeks away and the year’s final major, the PGA Championship, is less than five weeks away.

Woods never mentions a specific event when asked about a comeback timetable and he has admitted downplaying his status in comments about past injuries.

But he talks time and again about having learned from past attempts to return too quickly from injury and setbacks he has suffered as a result.

“I would like to say next week. But I can’t,” Woods said. “It’s not fun. It’s a tough road. I know I’m getting better. I’m progressing, but still I’m just not quite ready to be out here.

“I can play with these guys. I know I still can. I just need to get healthy enough where I can do it on a regular basis.”

That, Woods said, requires getting into golf shape. That means even though he is playing 18 holes now on consecutive days, he must be able to handle all the stresses of tournament play over 72 holes.

“I still need to be golf fit, hit ball after ball to have my golf muscles back,” Woods said.

“I am playing, just I need more time, I still need to get to get stronger, need to recover faster. Unfortunately it will take time.

“I’m older. It takes longer to recover. I want to do it right so I don’t have another surgery.”

South Africa’s Ernie Els, a four-time major winner who played in Sunday’s final group, made it clear he wants to see Woods return.

“When Ernie walked off, he made a beeline over to me and gave me a big hug and said, ‘Get back out here,'” Woods said. “That’s awfully special because we’ve been going at it for such a long time.”

Woods, 40, was able to show his children Els and try to explain how they have been rivals for nearly two decades.

“I was trying to explain to Sam and Charlie — ‘See that big guy over there on the 18th green? I’ve been battling him for the last 19 years,'” Woods said. “That was really cool.”

Woods has won 79 US PGA events, three shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record, and his major total is four shy of the all-time record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus.

But Woods, nagged by back and leg injuries, has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and has not won any title since the 2013 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.

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Tiger says he might not play again this year

Hot start propels Ko to Arkansas Championship title

Los Angeles (AFP) – Lydia Ko withstood a late stumble on the last hole on Sunday to record her third victory of 2016 by winning the LPGA Tour’s NW Arkansas Championship.

The New Zealand teenager has now won 13 times on the Tour before her 20th birthday as she finished with a three-under 68 for a three round score of 196 at the Pinnacle Country Club course.

Morgan Pressel carded a 71 to tie for second with Taiwan’s Candie Kung at 199.

World number one Ko went into the par-five 18 with a comfortable four shot lead but tried to lay up with a six-iron and put her ball into the water.

She blasted her next iron over the green but it hit the bottom of the grandstand and bounced back, leaving her with a somewhat tricky downhill putt from off the green. Ko then two putted for the win.

“It is not the greatest way to finish with a six,” said Auckland’s Ko. “I hit the ball really well on the front nine.”

Ko began the final round tied for the lead with American Pressel. But it didn’t take long for her to make her presence felt, jumping out to a four-shot lead over the first five holes.

She had just one birdie and two bogeys on the back nine, which she attributed to the heat.

“I felt a little tired going into the back nine. The sun got to me a little,” she said.

Ko had fun with the Arkansas crowd as someone gave her a University of Arkansas Razorback hat to wear on number 17, the tournament’s loudest and signature hole.

Pressel’s chances of victory ended when she made four consecutive bogeys from number 11 to number 14.

Kung shot a 69 thanks to a late hot stretch. After bogeying two of the first four holes, she was mistake-free the rest of the way, making four birdies, including consecutive birdies on the last two holes.

Angela Stanford (65), Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn (68), Germany’s Sandra Gal (69) and China’s Yan Jing (70) tied for fourth at 200.

Sydnee Michaels (64), Australia’s Min-Jee Lee (67), South Korea’s Yoo Sun-Young (68), Italy’s Giulia Molinaro (70) and Canada’s Alena Sharp (71) shared eighth place at 201.

World number two Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand tied for 44th at 207. She is the only other player besides Ko to record three victories in 2016.

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Hot start propels Ko to Arkansas Championship title

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