Jun 01, 2016 | 08:25 am

Rising Star

Who's the hottest golfer in the world right now? Jason Day? Jordan Spieth? Nope. It's Ariya Jutanugarn. The long-hitting 20 year old won for the third straight time on Sunday at the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor, Mich., blowing the field away and setting a record for a player winning her first three events in the process. It's a wonderfully redemptive story, too, having missed 10 straight cuts last year and actually becoming scared to hit the ball. So just who is Jutanugarn? She's a former top-ranked amateur from Thailand who became the youngest player ever at age 11 to qualify for an LPGA event at the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand. Her good play continued after turning pro in 2013, but a shoulder injury the same year from a fall chasing her sister around derailed her preordained rise to greatness. But a big boost to her confidence came at the year's first major, the Dinah Shore, which she led after 69 holes, before Lydia Ko nipped at the finish line when Jutanugarn bogeyed the final three holes. After her three straight wins, it doesn't seem like anything can stop her now, however, with her booming drives and soft touch. Don't be surprised if she wins for a fourth time this year at LPGA's next major, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, June 9-12 at Sahalee.

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May 31, 2016 | 08:35 am

The Big 3 Are Ready

The game’s top three players—Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy—currently are all in top form, each of them having scored a victory in his last outing, and with two weeks to go to the U.S. Open, it seems they (and the rest of the field) will need to be at their best, as fearsome Oakmont is in equally top form. Ideal spring weather conditions—generally dry with just enough rain to keep the grass growing—have allowed green superintendent John Zimmers to bring his course to its full ferocity, its fairways lined by lush, thick rough and its fiendish greens running like oiled linoleum. Should the weather hold for another two weeks (i.e. not too much rain) look for the pros to have their hands full. In 2007, the last time the U.S. Open came to Oakmont, Angel Cabrera’s winning score was five over par.  

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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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