May 27, 2016 | 06:40 am

Stung: Zika Virus Affecting Olympics Plans

It took more than 100 years to get golf back into the Olympics, and now it appears a mosquito might knock them out again. The list of players saying they are worried about the Zika virus if they compete in Rio in August keeps growing. This past weekend, Rory McIlroy said he’s been reading about the virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, and since he is engaged to be married and thinking about starting a family, “I have to monitor that situation.” Masters champ Danny Willett is also being mindful. "It's not great, is it?” asked Willett. “There's going to be 500,000 people watching the Olympics, and you have 11,000 athletes right in the heart of where it's at. If it turns out that it would be a massive threat to myself or to Nic [his wife, Nicole] or to the little man [his month-old son], then I probably wouldn't go. Family comes first. But as it stands at the minute, I think everything should be okay." Players are receiving regular updates from a number of international golf groups as well as the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control. Among the players who’ve already said they won’t compete in Rio are Vijay Singh (definitely hurting Fiji’s chance for a medal) and Australian Marc Leishman, whose wife was very ill last year and still has a weakened immune system. As for other players, they’re likely to echo McIlroy’s sentiments when he said, “As it gets closer, I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold.”

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May 26, 2016 | 09:52 am

The Four-Ball Champions

The USGA Four-Ball served multiple purposes this past week. It reminded us of Winged Foot’s brilliance and put the spotlight on the underappreciated East Course at the club. The tournament whetted our appetites for the upcoming USGA event at Oakmont next month and finally, it provided golf journalists another reason to work Bryson DeChambeau into coverage. See, the winners of the event were Andrew Buchanan and Ben Baxter, who are SMU teammates. DeChambeau is an SMU alum who was happy to offer advice to his former teammates ahead of their final match at Winged Foot. The duo won their final match in a 3-and-2 victory over Brandon Cigna and Ben Warnquist.

Although only in its second year, the USGA Four-Ball has established itself as a fun and refreshing break in the individual stroke-play world of US competitive golf. Congratulations to Andrew and Ben on their victory!

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May 25, 2016 | 09:10 am

Oakmont Bound

Players in the top 60 in the world ranking on Monday earned exemptions into the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, most notably Sergio Garcia, who moved up to No. 12 after his win at the Byron Nelson and was the higest-ranked player not previously exempt. Twenty-six others also earned a spot, including Billy Horschel, Lee Westwood, and Jamie Donaldson, who made it right on the number. Some prominent players who just missed out and will now have to go to Sectional Qualifying on June 6 include Gary Woodland, Luke Donald, and Ian Poulter. To see the fully exmempt list, click here.

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May 24, 2016 | 08:45 am

Fox Golf... Take 2

After a less than stellar first season in broadcast golf, Fox Sports has made some changes for year two, notably the firing of lead analyst Greg Norman and hiring of Paul Azinger as his replacement. Anchor Joe Buck remains, and the Buck-Azinger duo will make an under-the-radar debut today and tomorrow with the broadcast of the USGA’s newest and least notable event, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Also joining the Fox team this week is Curtis Strange as on-course commentator along with reporter Shane Bacon while Brad Faxon will return, joining Buck and Azinger in the tower. While the competitors in the Four-Ball may be unknown to all but their friends and family, the site is a big one, at Winged Foot, host of five U.S. Opens with a sixth scheduled for 2020. Coverage of the quarterfinal matches begins today at 3 pm EST on Fox Sports 1 with the finals on tomorrow at 3. Of course, the real test for Fox will come in three weeks when the U.S. Open tees off at Oakmont. 

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