Posts Tagged ‘Dustin Johnson’

Olympics, the Zika Virus and Golf

mosquito-circHow important are the Olympic Games for golfers?  That’s the question for players as some have already made the decision not to go to Rio and others are still considering.  Some of the biggest names in golf have opted out – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordon Spieth, and Rory McIlroy, the top 4 professional golfers in the world.  On the other hand, our Champion Golfer of the Year – winner of The Open – Henrik Stenson has been quoted as saying he is not afraid of mosquitoes and will attend.  So what is it about the Zika Virus that keeps some away?


Zika Virus

I have included some FAQs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website that should clear up some of the controversy.  Since most of these professional golfers are youthful and still (or about to be) in the “family-making” business there are some obvious risks and limitations the Zika virus presents if infected.  Interestingly, no woman golfer has opted to drop out from the competition that I am aware of.  In fact, a few weeks ago the LPGA made a statement to that effect.

Q: What is Zika?

A: Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week, and many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.

Q: How do people get infected with Zika?

A: Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Also, a man with Zika can pass it to sex partners. We encourage people who have traveled to or live in places with Zika to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.

Q: What health problems can result from getting Zika?

A: Many people infected with Zika will have no symptoms or mild symptoms that last several days to a week. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, is also very likely triggered by Zika in a small number of cases.

Once someone has been infected with Zika, it’s very likely they’ll be protected from future infections. There is no evidence that past Zika infection poses an increased risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.

Q: Should pregnant women travel to areas where Zika has been confirmed?

A: No. Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika. Travelers who go to places with outbreaks of Zika can be infected with Zika, and Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.

Q: If I am traveling outside the United States, should I be concerned about Zika?

A: Travelers who go to places with Zika can be infected with Zika, and CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to those areas. Many people will have mild or no symptoms. However, Zika can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects. For this reason, pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika, and women trying to get pregnant should talk to their doctors before traveling or before their male partners travel. It is especially important that women who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy consistently use the most effective method of birth control that they are able to use. Those traveling to areas with Zika should take steps during and after they travel to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.

Q: What can people do to prevent Zika?

A: The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:

Zika can be spread by men to their sex partners. People whose male sex partners have traveled to or live in an area with Zika can prevent Zika by using condoms condoms correctly every time they have sex or by not having sex.

Q: What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?

A: The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms, which can last for several days to a week.

Q: How is Zika diagnosed?

A: To diagnose Zika, your doctor will ask you about recent travel and symptoms you may have, and collect blood or urine to test for Zika or similar viruses.

Q: Can someone who returned from a country or US territory with Zika get tested for the virus?

A: Zika virus testing is performed at CDC and some state and territorial health departments. See your doctor if you have Zika symptoms and have recently visited an area with Zika. Your doctor may order tests to look for Zika or similar viruses like dengue and chikungunya.

Q:What should pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with Zika do?

A: Pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with Zika should talk to their doctor about their travel, even if they don’t feel sick. Pregnant women should see a doctor if they have any Zika symptoms during their trip or within 2 weeks after traveling. All pregnant women can protect themselves by avoiding travel to an area with Zika, preventing mosquito bites, and following recommended precautions against getting Zika through sex.

To Go or Not To Go

I suppose the decision to go is at its core a personal one and comes down to the level of risk one is willing to take on.  Rio is in the hot zone for Zika-carrying mosquitoes and I for one completely understand if an athlete declines based on their concerns.  To compete for one’s country is an honor and a privilege, but it is not a requirement or a duty.  These are professional athletes and are allowed to make personal decisions for themselves regarding their health and the health of their families.


(Picture of Mosquito from CDC&P Website)

Dustin Johnson’s Mistake or Was He Set Up?

A 2-stroke penalty on the final hole was all that fell between Dustin Johnson and a chance to win the 2010 PGA Championship.  I think the conditions that led to that penalty and its effect was terrible, avoidable, and could have been tragic for his career.  But for his demeanor and mature acceptance of the situation, the outcome of the PGA Championship tournament at Whistling Straits could haunt him forever.  I don’t think it will, but he certainly lost an opportunity to compete in the playoff for the Major victory.

Was it his fault?  Here he is on the final round playing the final hole with a chance to win or tie the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.  From the tee he drives his ball to the right into a crowd of spectators behind the ropes.  The crowd parts only as much as is necessary to allow him a small buffer around the ball.  He does not identify that his ball is actually in a bunker.  Neither does his caddy, not anyone else.  He grounds his club, strikes the ball, finishes the hole with what he thinks is a bogey.  Then he is approached by a PGA official on the 18th green as he is departing and receives the news that he is to receive a 2-stroke penalty for grounding his club in what turned out to be a bunker.  He is no longer in the playoff.  He is shocked and surprised…as were the commentators both in the booth and on the course. 

How could he have been in a bunker and fail to recognize it?  Even David Feherty, on the ground with him, didn’t see it.  Two things occurred (or did not occur) to set the conditions for this to happen.  Firstly, PGA officials established the rule before the tournament that all bunkers on the course would be played as a hazard whether trampled by the gallery behind the ropes or inside the ropes and groomed.  This ruling was communicated on the rule sheet and published in the locker room for all of the players.    The reason for this ruling was that because there are so many bunkers on the course – 1800+ – it would be impossible to characterize individual bunkers as “hazards in play” or not.  That is crap.  I saw red lines everywhere on that course, even through the television screen, identifying the distinction between hazard and non-hazard.  If you run out of paint, use the ropes.  Yes, all 1800+ bunkers were intended to be a part of the course of play, but, did Pete Dye really envision thousands of gallery members trampling in them effectively making some of them indistinguishable from the other parts of the surrounding area?  I doubt it. 

Secondly, each group had a PGA official with them.  There was an official with Dustin’s group.  Why didn’t he step in to adjudicate?  Surely, since the PGA officials were sensitive to play from bunkers behind the ropes and the effect trampling galleries might have on them (mentioned in the rule sheet), wouldn’t or shouldn’t they have been ultra sensitive to the possibility of a “Dustin Johnson event” occurring?  The official asked Dustin if he was good.  Dustin said he was.  Then he grounded his club.  He didn’t know he was in a bunker!  Catch 22! 

Some discussion and speculation came out as to whether Dustin read the rule sheet.  Even Dustin commented that he should have read it, but I think that comment was his sarcastic retort to a question put to him.  I watched it and that was my sensing.  However, whether he read it or not, if he didn’t know he was in a bunker because it did not look like a bunker, the issue is moot.  He had no reason to refer to the rule.

Two things caused this.  The PGA ruling should have been that all bunkers outside of the ropes be treated as waste areas – allowing for more ‘lenient play’ – because of the effect the galleries had on them.  To help adjudicate that, they had available a PGA official with every group to make the call where there might be a question.  But, even in the event they went with the ruling as they did, they should have instructed the walking officials to be sensitive to positive identification of the bunkers behind the ropes. 

This was an avoidable situation brought on by some bad decisions.  That’s how I see it.