Coronavirus spread has major champions Lincicome, Lewis fearing for LPGA season

(Reuters) – The LPGA Tour’s return to the United States after three Asian events were canceled due to the coronavirus has not allayed the fears of new mothers Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis.

FILE PHOTO: Golf – Women’s British Open – St Andrews, Britain – August 5, 2017 USA’s Stacy Lewis in action during the third round Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Though there had been only 60 known cases diagnosed in the United States as of Thursday, the two major champions worry the virus could spread and potentially cause major disruptions.

“I’m worried about the whole season,” Lincicome said during a teleconference call to promote the year’s first major, the April 2-5 ANA Inspiration scheduled in Rancho Mirage, California.

To which former world number one Lewis chimed in: “I am too. It’s in the U.S. now, too, so traveling to California or traveling anywhere, through any airport, I think you’re thinking about it and you’re aware of it.

“I feel it’s not going away any time soon.”

The LPGA Tour first canceled the March 5-8 Blue Bay tournament scheduled for Hainan Island in China after the coronavirus appeared, and later scrapped events in Thailand and Singapore.

Lincicome had been planning to play in the latter two tournaments, while Lewis had Thailand on her itinerary.

Lewis was playing in Australia when the Thailand event was canceled, and was relieved to have the decision taken out of her hands.

“Just the thought of potentially not just of me getting it but bringing it back to my daughter and being quarantined and not being able to spend more time with her, I don’t know what I would have done if I’d had to make that choice,” she said.

“I probably would have picked our health over playing. I’m very glad the tour made those calls. It was hard, but a chance we couldn’t take. The way we travel at those events, one person gets it and we’re all sick.”

Thailand has reported 40 infections of coronavirus as of Wednesday.

“There were more important considerations than (my love of) foot massages and mango sticky rice,” Lincicome said.

The LPGA Tour is scheduled to play in the United States until July, with the Tokyo Olympics looming large from Aug. 5-8.

Asked whether she would worry about participating if she qualified, Lincicome said: “That would be a dream come true but our health is more important. We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we get there.”

Japan’s prime minister this week called for sports and cultural events to be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks, as two more coronavirus deaths heightened concerns the contagion might scupper the Games.

“I hope by time (of) the Olympics it’s fizzled out and is not an issue,” Lewis said.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris

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