Danger anew in the rough

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The Independent Online
Just when the players were counting their blessings that the rough at Shinnecock Hills was not carrying its normal US Open spite, another problem has reared for the wayward, writes Guy Hodgson. This one is far more serious than an unplayable lie or a dropped shot.

Lurking in the undergrowth is a creature by the name of Ixodes dammini, or deer tick, which can seriously damage a golfer's - or spectator's - health. It would be an exaggeration to say fear is stalking the fairways but the organisers, the US Golf Association, are concerned enough to be handing out warnings.

Anyone unfortunate enough to be bitten by the deer tick runs the risk of contracting Lyme Disease, an affliction which, if it is untreated, can cause arthritis and attack the nervous system.

As a consquence the USGA has advised spectators against wearing shorts at Shinnecock and to spray themselves with insecticide. The caddies, meanwhile, have been issued with a basic kit of tweezers and disinfectant to protect themselves and their employers.

A victim is told to grip the tick with the tweezers and pull it off the skin. "Do not carelessly grab, jerk, squeeze or twist the tick body," the instructions continue, "as this may cause the tick parts to break off in the skin, possibly forcing the tick's fluid into the body." Is everyone still enjoying their breakfast?

This would be dismissed as American paranoia with health if one of the media had not already been bitten - Larry Dorman, golf correspondent of the New York Times, who played Shinnecock last month.

He is taking medication and there is no danger of Lyme Disease's worst symptoms developing but, even so, he is far from in the flush of perfect health. "I feel tired all the time," he said. "In a word, dreadful."

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