SAMMAMISH, Wa. – You can add LPGA star Stacy Lewis to the growing list of U.S. athletes who are worried about the Zika virus, a disease that could seriously impact the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Yeah, I am definitely concerned,” Lewis said on Thursday at the KPMP Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club. “The Zika thing is a serious deal. My thing is they don’t know the long-term effects of it and that’s the scariest part for me.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has restricted the International Golf Federation (IGF) to an Olympic field of 60 players.
The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings will be used to determine the Olympics golf rankings. The top 15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country.
Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15. The qualification period ends July 11, 2016.
“Hopefully I am on the team come July 11th,” said Lewis, “and then we’ll make a decision. I don’t think there is a need to make a decision right now. If it gets better, if it gets worse down there, hopefully they’ll tell us.”
Lewis currently is ranked No. 7 in the World Rankings, second to Lexi Thompson (No. 3) among U.S. players. They are the only two Americans ranked in the top 60. Gerina Piller, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lincicome and Alison Lee are other U.S. who are in the hunt for Olympic spots.
SAHALEE GETS STRAIGHT A’S FROM KIM: Christina Kim, one of five Kims in the PGA Championship and a 3-time winner on the LPGA Tour, was completely impressed – and exhausted –with Sahalee Country Club after the first round.
“My left eye is still twitching right now,” she said after shooting a 2-under 69, tying her with five others for second place, two shots behind clubhouse leader Brooke Henderson. “This place has absolutely drained me. It was very mentally taxing today.”
Kim said she was glad to have drawn a morning start, figuring she would have plenty of rest-time before Friday’s second round. She gave the course and overall A+ grade.
“The greens are perfect, the fairways are perfect, the rough is perfect and nasty,” she said. “I can’t rave about this place enough. It screams Major and it is first class. How much time do you have? This place is perfect.”
PAIR LEADS CLUB PROFESSIONALS WITH 72: Jennifer Bermingham of Long Beach, Ca. and Laurie Rinker of Stuart, Florida, each posted a one-over par 72 in Thursday’s opening round. Each player took unique routes to sit atop a contingent of eight PGA and LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals in the Championship.
Rinker’s performance came as a pleasant surprise to her after taking time off from practice last week to her attend to her mother, Pam, who underwent recent surgery in during a three-month battle with cancer. “I’m very satisfied by how I managed things today,” said Rinker, a PGA Life Member and LPGA member. “For the past seven days golf wasn’t my focus. It was nice to be out her and get away.
“I hit it fairly well, and this is a course that plays so long. I wasn’t putting it in places like when I was 20.” Rinker had four bogeys and three birdies in leading the eight PGA and LPGA Club Professionals in the field.
Bermingham, a 28-year-old LPGA Teaching Professional playing in her first LPGA event, came within a stroke of the lead at 3-under-par through four holes before struggling home. Beginning play on the No. 10 hole, she birdied three of her first four holes, before bogeys at 14 and 15, and a double-bogey 7 at the par-5 second hole. She mixed in a birdie at No. 1 and a bogey at 5 on her way to closing out the round.
“Today was a dream-come-true day,” said Bermingham. “I’ve always dreamed of playing in an LPGA event or a major since I was a little kid. I was a little nervous in the beginning, but putts started falling and it was awesome.”