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Armour at 46 makes it through injury to get PGA Tour card

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Armour at 46 makes it through injury to get PGA Tour card

Ryan Armour is starting another PGA Tour season at the Fortinet Championship, a surprise on so many levels he doesn’t know where to begin.

Having already missed a month in the spring with a back injury, the 46-year-old Armour had to shut it down after the 3M Open in July because of a stress fracture in his ribs. The early prognosis was getting back around Halloween.

He still had past champion status. And while he finished at No. 166 in the FedEx Cup standings, Armour would at least have conditional status because 16 players would wind up signing with Saudi-backed LIV Golf, moving him up to No. 150.

And then a funny thing happened when the postseason began — coughing and sneezing no longer caused great pain. His strength was returning. He had a cortisone shot and then hit balls for the first time in nearly a month.

He hit wedges and when he woke up the next day, he felt sore but was not in pain. He put in a full session and felt OK the next day. He repeated the process. And then he called his caddie and said, “I’m going to Columbus.”

The Ohio stop was the second of three Korn Ferry Tour Finals spots. Armour tied for 22nd and then closed with a 65 at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship to get one of the 25 full PGA Tour cards available.

“I even surprised myself,” Armour said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

A little help from LIV Golf, a lot of help with an early return from injury and a clutch two weeks after not having played for more than a month got Armour on a plane Monday morning from Florida to Napa, California, to start a new season.

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The timing was critical because this was the last year of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Starting next year, the only way back to a full card is to finish in the top five at Q-school. His injury would have given him one spot in the fall and then probably not another until Pebble Beach in February. It was that or try the last two Korn Ferry Tour Finals events.

“Do I want to go to Q-school for five cards?” Armour said. “I’ve been down that road before. I didn’t feel like doing that against 20-year-olds for five spots. I thought it was better to give yourself two chances to play great instead of one.”

Armour was 186th in driving distance and led the tour in driving accuracy (74%), a tough recipe in the modern game of power. That he even made it through two KFT events against players who were driving 400-yard greens was impressive, especially his 67-65 weekend in the final tournament.

The last obstacle was bad weather that forced a stop-and-start final day, leaving Armour mildly concerned that having to warm up three times might not be ideal.

“I went out and played really, really well,” Armour said. “I don’t think I’m very good at giving myself credit. But what I did … I even impressed myself.”

Armour has had to make some last-minute arrangements, and not just booking flights and lodging.

His caddie, Jim McGurk, figured Armour would be out until late October, so he booked a vacation to Italy. He leaves Friday. Armour’s wife, Erin, will be caddying for the first time.

OH, SERGIO

The Ryder Cup is just over a year away at Marco Simone in Italy, and it’s hard to envision Sergio Garcia there in any capacity.

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Garcia was among LIV Golf players who entered the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week, peculiar because he has rarely supported the European tour’s flagship event. It was only the fifth time he had played since his rookie year in 1999.

In 2009, Garcia came over to England for the European Open a week after Wentworth. He was at the BMW PGA Championship in 2013, two weeks after his public spat with Tiger Woods, when he made racially insensitive comments.

A year later, he withdrew after a 73 in the first round because of a sore knee. At least then, he offered a medical reason.

Most disturbing about his most recent appearance was his contentious behavior toward the European tour since joining LIV, and then pulling out after a 76 in the first round. He posted an image on Instagram from the sideline at the Alabama-Texas football game on Saturday in Austin, Texas, where Garcia lives.

The Daily Telegraph reported Garcia faces a fine from the tour. Garcia has three weeks to provide a reason for the WD, which could include “reasonable medical evidence.”

KO ON THE MEND

Jin Young Ko is not defending her title this week at the Portland Classic, and Golf Digest says she will be taking time off because of a wrist injury. Ko’s manager told Digest it’s the same injury Ko was dealing with a year ago.

The LPGA says Ko, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, has entered only three of the remaining eight tournaments on the schedule, starting with the BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea at the end of October. The others are the Pelican Women’s Championship and CME Group Tour Championship the final two weeks of the season.

ANNIKA’S EVENT

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Annika Sorenstam now has her own LPGA Tour event in Florida.

The LPGA and the Pelican Women’s Championship said Tuesday that Sorenstam will be host of the November tournament in the Tampa Bay area starting in 2023. It’s official name will be “The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.”

The tournament is the final event before the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship down the coast in Naples.

Sorenstam called it an “incredible honor.” She is the only player who serves as an official host on the LPGA Tour. Lorena Ochoa hosted a tournament under her name in Mexico for nine years ending in 2017.

The tournament expects to announce the prize fund and additional details at the Pelican Women’s Championship the week of Nov. 7-13.

Gainbridge has been title sponsor of an LPGA tournament in Florida at the start of the year, twice in Boca Raton and at Lake Nona in Orlando in 2021. Sorenstam played the event at Lake Nona because she lives there.

DIVOTS

The Asian Tour is taking its International Series to Egypt for the first time. It will be played at Madinaty Golf Club on Nov. 10-13 with a $1.5 million purse. … Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas are the only players to rank in the top 10 in birdies in each of the last three seasons. … Rory McIlroy makes his debut in the Italian Open, site of the Ryder Cup next year. He has won six national Opens, two in European nations. … Jimmy Walker returns to the PGA Tour for the first time since April with a friend as his caddie — John Hill, who has a card on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

STAT OF THE WEEK

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Nelly Korda, who missed four months earlier this year with a blood clot, and Lexi Thompson are the only players from the top 10 in the women’s world ranking who have not won on the LPGA Tour this year.

FINAL WORD

“It’s not the job of the rankings to encourage pathways for players to get through and get on in the game. That’s a matter for the tours themselves. It’s the job of the rankings to be accurate as they can possibly be.” — Peter Dawson, chairman of the Official World Golf Rankings board.

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More AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

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Israel hails ‘success’ after blocking unprecedented attack from Iran

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct Iranian attack involving hundreds of drones and missiles, calling the coordinated response a starting point for a “strategic alliance” of regional opposition to Tehran.

But Israel’s War Cabinet met without making a decision on next steps, an official said, as a nervous world waited for any sign of further escalation of the former shadow war.

The military coalition, led by the United States, Britain and France and appearing to include a number of Middle Eastern countries, gave Israel support at a time when it finds itself isolated over its war against Hamas in Gaza. The coalition also could serve as a model for regional relations when that war ends.

“This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East,” said the Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

One unknown is which of Israel’s neighbors participated in the shooting down of the vast majority of about 350 drones and missiles Iran launched. Israeli military officials and a key War Cabinet member noted additional “partners” without naming them. When pressed, White House national security spokesman John Kirby would not name them either.

But one appeared to be Jordan, which described its action as self-defense.

“There was an assessment that there was a real danger of Iranian marches and missiles falling on Jordan, and the armed forces dealt with this danger. And if this danger came from Israel, Jordan would take the same action,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said in an interview on Al-Mamlaka state television. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday.

The U.S. has long tried to forge a regionwide alliance against Iran as a way of integrating Israel and boosting ties with the Arab world. The effort has included the 2020 Abraham Accords, which established diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries, and having Israel in the U.S. military’s Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East and works closely with the armies of moderate Arab states.

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The U.S. had been working to establish full relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack sparked Israel’s war in Gaza. The war, which has claimed over 33,700 Palestinian lives, has frozen those efforts due to widespread outrage across the Arab world. But it appears that some behind-the-scenes cooperation has continued, and the White House has held out hopes of forging Israel-Saudi ties as part of a postwar plan.

Just ahead of Iran’s attack, the commander of CENTCOM, Gen. Erik Kurilla, visited Israel to map out a strategy.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, on Sunday thanked CENTCOM for the joint defensive effort. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are under the CENTCOM umbrella. While neither acknowledged involvement in intercepting Iran’s launches, the Israeli military released a map showing missiles traveling through the airspace of both nations.

“Arab countries came to the aid of Israel in stopping the attack because they understand that regional organizing is required against Iran, otherwise they will be next in line,” Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said he had spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and that the cooperation “highlighted the opportunity to establish an international coalition and strategic alliance to counter the threat posed by Iran.”

The White House signaled that it hopes to build on the partnerships and urged Israel to think twice before striking Iran. U.S. officials said Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

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Iran launched the attack in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel that hit an Iranian consular building in Syria this month and killed two Iranian generals.

By Sunday morning, Iran said the attack was over, and Israel reopened its airspace. Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, claimed Iran had taught Israel a lesson and warned that “any new adventures against the interests of the Iranian nation would be met with a heavier and regretful response from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The foes have been engaged in a shadow war for years, but Sunday’s assault was the first time Iran launched a direct military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran said it targeted Israeli facilities involved in the Damascus strike, and that it told the White House early Sunday that the operation would be “minimalistic.”

But U.S. officials said Iran’s intent was to “destroy and cause casualties” and that if successful, the strikes would have caused an “uncontrollable” escalation. At one point, at least 100 ballistic missiles were in the air with just minutes of flight time to Israel, the officials said.

Israel said more than 99% of what Iran fired was intercepted, with just a few missiles getting through. An Israeli airbase sustained minor damage.

Israel has over the years established — often with the help of the U.S. — a multilayered air-defense network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

That system, along with collaboration with the U.S. and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

While thwarting the Iranian onslaught could help restore Israel’s image after the Hamas attack in October, what the Middle East’s best-equipped army does next will be closely watched in the region and in Western capitals — especially as Israel seeks to develop the coalition it praised Sunday.

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In Washington, Biden pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. would hold talks with allies. After an urgent meeting, the Group of Seven countries unanimously condemned Iran’s attack and said they stood ready to take “further measures.”

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel’s war in Gaza. In the Oct. 7 attack, militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also backed by Iran, killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed over 33,000 people, according to local health officials.

Hamas welcomed Iran’s attack, saying it was “a natural right and a deserved response” to the strike in Syria. It urged the Iran-backed groups in the region to continue to support Hamas in the war.

Hezbollah also welcomed the attack. Almost immediately after the war in Gaza erupted, Hezbollah began attacking Israel’s northern border. The two sides have been involved in daily exchanges of fire, while Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have launched rockets and missiles toward Israel.

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Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Michelle L. Price in Washington; Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Samy Magdy in Cairo; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan; and Giada Zampano in Rome contributed to this report.

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

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How to get rid of NYC rats without brutality? Birth control is one idea

New York lawmakers are proposing rules to humanely drive down the population of rats and other rodents, eyeing contraception and a ban on glue traps as alternatives to poison or a slow, brutal death.

Politicians have long come up with creative ways to battle the rodents, but some lawmakers are now proposing city and statewide measures to do more.

In New York City, the idea to distribute rat contraceptives got fresh attention in city government Thursday following the death of an escaped zoo owl, known as Flaco, who was found dead with rat poison in his system.

City Council Member Shaun Abreu proposed a city ordinance Thursday that would establish a pilot program for controlling the millions of rats lurking in subway stations and empty lots by using birth control instead of lethal chemicals. Abreu, chair of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, said the contraceptives also are more ethical and humane than other methods.

The contraceptive, called ContraPest, is contained in salty, fatty pellets that are scattered in rat-infested areas as bait. It works by targeting ovarian function in female rats and disrupting sperm cell production in males, The New York Times reported.

New York exterminators currently kill rats using snap and glue traps, poisons that make them bleed internally, and carbon monoxide gas that can suffocate them in burrows. Some hobbyists have even trained their dogs to hunt them.

Rashad Edwards, a film and television actor who runs pest management company Scurry Inc. in New York City with his wife, said the best method he has found when dealing with rodents is carbon monoxide.

He tries to use the most humane method possible, and carbon monoxide euthanizes the rats slowly, putting them to sleep and killing them. Edwards avoids using rat poison whenever possible because it is dangerous and torturous to the rodents, he said.

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Some lawmakers in Albany are considering a statewide ban on glue boards under a bill moving through the Legislature. The traps, usually made from a slab of cardboard or plastic coated in a sticky material, can also ensnare small animals that land on its surface.

Edwards opposes a ban on sticky traps, because he uses them on other pests, such as ants, to reduce overall pesticide use. When ants get into a house, he uses sticky traps to figure out where they’re most often passing by. It helps him narrow zones of pesticide use “so that you don’t go spray the entire place.”

“This is not a problem we can kill our way out of,” said Jakob Shaw, a special project manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.”

Two cities in California have passed bans on glue traps in recent years. On the federal level, a bill currently in committee would ban the traps nationwide.

“It ends a really inhumane practice of managing rat populations,” said Jabari Brisport, the New York state senator who represents part of Brooklyn and sponsored the bill proposing the new guidelines. “There are more effective and more humane ways to deal with rats.”

Every generation of New Yorkers has struggled to control rat populations. Mayor Eric Adams hired a “rat czar” last year tasked with battling the detested rodents. Last month, New York City reduced the amount of food served up to rats by mandating all businesses to put trash out in boxes.

While the war on rats has no end in sight, the exterminator Edwards said we can learn a lot from their resilience. The rodents, he said, can never be eradicated, only managed.

“They’re very smart, and they’re very wise,” he said. “It’s very inspiring but just — not in my house.”

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

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Coachella: Earthquake shakes SoCal desert during music fest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A small earthquake shook the Southern California desert Saturday near Coachella, where the famous music festival is being held this weekend. No damage or injuries were reported.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 3.8, hit at 9:08 a.m. about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Borrego Springs in Riverside County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Coachella. It struck at a depth of about 7 miles (11 kilometers), the USGS said.

A dispatcher with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said there were no calls reporting any problems from the quake.

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