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Alberta golf courses allowed to open this weekend – Calgary Sun

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Albertans, dust off your golf clubs.

As part of a staged economic relaunch strategy, Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday that courses across the province will be allowed to open — with safety restrictions —  “as soon as this weekend.”

The divot-digging had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clubhouses and pro shops will, for now, remain closed.

“It was about 15 seconds (after the announcement) that we had the first phone call asking to book a tee time,” said Matt Kirlin, the director of golf at Lynx Ridge. “People are just so excited to get that first tee in the ground. And it’s really cool to see — as golf-industry operators, we’ve worked very hard to get this decision, and it makes it all worth it when you hear the excitement of Alberta golfers.”

Soon, you’ll be hearing shouts of ‘Fore!’

Alberta’s golf industry has been pushing to prove that it’s possible to launch drives and drain putts while still flattening the curve, submitting a 30-page document to government officials to detail the safety precautions they are willing to implement.

On Thursday, they received the green light to proceed.

Many course operators were watching as Kenney rolled out the relaunch plan. (Although there was some confusion as a government release stated that Monday would be opening day, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, later confirmed on Twitter that there can be action on the links as soon as Saturday.)

“Yeah, I was hooting and hollering. I was excited, maybe a little emotional even,” said Barry Ehlert, who oversees five area layouts — including the much-anticipated Mickelson National — as managing partner for Windmill Golf Group.

“This is something we’ve been fighting hard for. We have been cooped up for six weeks or something like that, and for at least five of those weeks, I feel like I’ve had a tremendous amount of time, effort and energy spent on articulating what we believe we can do in our industry in order to create a safe and healthy environment for people during COVID-19. So this certainly is very exciting.”

Golf will look a little different during the pandemic.

As part of the park-and-play model, you’ll be encouraged to pre-pay your green fee so you can head straight to the first tee. There will be no high-fives or post-round handshakes, with an emphasis on always maintaining two metres of personal space.

Bunker rakes, ball washers and other potential touch points will be removed and golf carts will be single rider, unless both players are from the same household.

It will be mandatory to leave the pin in, with a variety of new methods so that a ball can be safely retrieved from the hole.

At both Lynx Ridge and neighbouring Valley Ridge, for example, they’ll stuff part of a pool noodle in the cup to ensure your lucky Titleist barely drops below ground level when you sink your putt.

“We have a colleague in Singapore that sent us a picture of how slick and safely that works,” said Curtis Robertson, director of golf at Valley Ridge. “We have been gathering information for quite some time from courses around the world that have been open and doing it safely. We’ve just been awaiting this news so we could apply all this information.”

Added Jason Stanier, the general manager and executive professional at Inglewood: “We’re confident we can create a safe and enjoyable experience for our members, for guests, for the public, and that we can maintain social distancing. We’re going to spread out tee times a little from what we would normally do. We’re not going to allow people to check in until 10 minutes before their time and not be on the first tee until it’s your turn. So we have some new protocols in place, and we’re just excited now to be able to use them and implement them.”

Of course, there will also be an onus on members of the bogey brigade — whether they’re playing at a private club or a public facility — to follow the regulations to a … er … tee.

“The general excitement is so high that I don’t think anyone is willing to risk losing this great privilege in these times,” Kirlin said. “We’re very lucky that our leisure sport allows for social distancing. There are very few things you can do outdoors with your friends or family at this moment that allow you to be socially distant, so my message to my members was, ‘We’re working as hard as we can to implement whatever we need to, but without the full support of you, we’re going to lose this privilege, and then it’s going to be twice as hard to get it back.’ ”

CHIP SHOTS: The 2020 DC Bank Glencoe Invitational has been cancelled due to the current health crisis. Considered one of Canada’s top amateur golf events, and with plans to debut a female division this year, the tournament was scheduled for June 18-20 on Glencoe’s Forest Course.

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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NBPA approves 22-team format to resume NBA season – Sportsnet.ca

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The National Basketball Players Association has signed off on the 22-team, return-to-play format for the NBA, the union announced in a statement Friday.

The NBPA said its Board of Player Representatives has approved further negotiations on the plan with the league and various details still need to be hashed out.

“The acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play,” the statement reads.

The league’s Board of Governors approved the proposal for restarting the 2019-20 season on Thursday. The plan would see the campaign resume next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla.

The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports that other aspects of the return-to-play plan were discussed by the NBPA on a call with its Board and Player Representatives on Friday afternoon, including:

• Two to three exhibition tilts before the regular season

• A maximum of 1,600 people on the Disney World campus

• Daily COVID-19 testing and a minimum seven-day quarantine if a player is found positive

• The NBA will continue to play if a player contracts the novel coronavirus

• Players and family must stay inside the bubble

• Potential manufactured crowd noise using NBA 2K video game sound

• A proposed 35-person travel party limit

• Potential three-hour practice windows for teams

• No blood tests in Orlando for substances that fall under the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBPA reportedly also said players will receive their full paycheques after taking a 25 per cent reduction in May.

Additionally, Charania reports that the union told players a Dec. 1 start to the ’20-21 campaign is “unlikely” and it plans to negotiate the date.

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'Djokovic will overtake Roger Federer and become the GOAT', says former World No. 1 – Tennis World USA

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Former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic was the protagonist of a long interview on Eurosport, where he commented on all the news that gravitates around the world of tennis. The former World number 1, who retired from the circuit at the end of 2016, has won 15 singles titles during his career, including Roland Garros in 2008.

She also reached a final in Paris in 2007 and one at the Australian Open in 2008. She was at the top of the world ranking from 9th June to 10th August 2008 and then from 18th August to 7th September of the same year (for a total of 12 weeks).

Ivanovic: ‘Djokovic will break Federer’s Slam record’

Ana had a recent talk with former world no.10 Barbara Schett-Eagle. She talked about Kim Clijsters: “I have been watching some of her matches and she has been striking the ball amazingly well, but I really hope she can get back to that level to play like she used to,” Serbia’s 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic, talking to Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi, said on Wednesday.

“Personally, I don’t think it’ll be easy after being out for so many years. It’s amazing what she achieved. I still respect her so much, it’s just difficult to imagine now after having three kids and being out for so long to make a comeback,” Ivanovic, who retired in 2016, aged 29, said.

“Not because she’s not fit, but because your body just reacts differently. When you are out of competition you realise how much fine-tuning is necessary and she’s been out a while”. When asked about her opinion about Novak Djokovic and the opportunity for him to break Federer’s slam record, Ana sounded rather positive.

“In tour we were very close friends, but then later over the years he had his own path and I had my own path, but what he achieved is really amazing,” Ivanovic said. “Yeah. Probably. He has time working for him.

He still has a few years left and he definitely has a big chance of doing it and that’s one of his goals probably,” she added.

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A spy and an armbar: The night ‘India’ welcomed Amanda Nunes to MMA – MMA Fighting

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“Let me rewind the tape here… There’s a drawer we open and memories come back.”

The first and only woman to win multiple UFC belts, Amanda Nunes, returns to the octagon Saturday night at UFC 250 to once again defend her throne when she takes on Felicia Spencer in Las Vegas. Like many other MMA stars, however, her career actually started with a defeat — and the woman responsible for it had a few tricks up her sleeve.

A mixed martial arts pioneer in Brazil, Ana Maria “India” received a call from Prime MMA promoter Luiz Fernando Menezes with an offer to be part of the company’s second show on March 8, 2008. It was scheduled for International Women’s Day, and he wanted women competing on it.

India was training under experienced boxing coach Luiz Carlos Dorea in Salvador and had previous experience in MMA, while Nunes, a 19-year-old protege under Edson Carvalho, was looking to make her debut in a cage. India was coming off a long layoff due to a knee injury and decided to collect as much as information as possible about her upcoming foe.

“I had six knee surgeries throughout my career and I was coming off one of them, just five months before the fight, and I never heard of Amanda before,” Ana Maria says. “A friend of mine trained at Edson Carvalho’s gym and I asked him if he could to the gym and film her a little bit so I could check her out [laughs].”

The experienced fighter received some inside information about Nunes, and only heard great things about her.

“Ana, this girl trains really hard,” the “spy” allegedly told Nunes’ opponent. “She sleeps in the gym and watches fights on computer all day everyday.”

“He told me she was really tough on the feet, with her background in karate, and very good on the ground,” Ana Maria says. “Since I was coming off the knee surgery and one leg was two inches shorter than the other one, I didn’t want to waste any time on the feet. I shouldn’t even be fighting, but I’m a fighter and we always think we can pull it off.”

India’s strategy was to take Nunes to the ground as quick as possible, but “The Lioness” started off with a leg kick followed by a combo of punches. Nunes was “fiery, she wanted to take your head off, but often got too emotional,” Ana Maria recalls.

She took advantage of Nunes’s aggression, pulling guard and snapping a tight armbar that forced the tap.

“35 seconds,” Ana Maria recalls. “A kick, three punches, I shot for a takedown, she sprawled, I pulled guard and got the armbar. We could see how hungry she was back then, her will to fight… You could see she was good.”

Nunes eventually joined Academia Champion in Salvador and trained with India, but saw a chance to move overseas as a way to improve as a mixed martial artist.

Amanda Nunes
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“She always told me she would go to the United States and only come back with the belt in her hands,” Ana Maria says. “She was the one to beat Ronda (Rousey). She said she would beat Cris (Cyborg) one day. She slept with a computer by her bed to watch videos of their fights. She was always very focused and determined.”

Their careers went different directions. Nunes eventually signed with Strikeforce and then joined the UFC, where she climbed to the top in two different weight classes — and beat both Rousey and Cyborg by first-round knockout.

Ana Maria became a popular name in Brazil after being on the cast of a Survivor-esque reality TV competition in 2009, but never made it to the big leagues in the sport. India often wonders if she was just born in the wrong era, where women simply didn’t get the same opportunity as men.

“I’ve asked myself a lot,” she says. “People didn’t understand why I was fighting, they said there was no event for women. I said it would be big one day and they called me crazy. PRIDE was the biggest promotion in the world, then Dana White said there would never be women fighting in the UFC, and I’ve always said they had nowhere to run.

“I wanted to fight, and I believed it would be big. I didn’t have someone to look up to, but I was doing it because I thought it was cool. If it wasn’t for me, Vanessa Porto, Michelle Tavares and others, these girls wouldn’t have the space they have today. That’s why I won’t complain. Someone has to be first, someone has to open the way for others.”

At 41 with a record of seven wins and five defeats (she says two victories are missing from online databases), India is open to the idea of taking a farewell bout if the terms are good. In 2018, back when she was training at Demian Maia’s team in Sao Paulo, Ana Maria says she received a “laughable” offer to fight for the first time since 2014.

“If there’s someone out there willing to pay, I’ll fight,” Ana Maria says. “I’ve had arguments with promoters for treating us like clowns. They set the circus up with a bunch of clowns. Everyone gets paid except for the fighters. It’s absurd. What’s the point of being part of a show if I’m getting paid nothing?”

Even if she doesn’t get her shot at a proper goodbye to the sport she helped build, Ana Maria India knows she was one of the pillars to get it where it is today.

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