Tiger Woods snatched plenty of golfing headlines in 2018 with his remarkable comeback after years in the wilderness and will now be eyeing a 15th major title, while British Open champion Francesco Molinari inspired Europe to a Ryder Cup thrashing of the United States in Paris.
It was an eventful year for golf fans, with Woods’ return adding a sub-plot to the bigger tournaments, even as many of the younger generation confirmed their respective rises to the top of the game.
Justin Thomas’ spectacular eagle on the final hole at the WGC Mexico Championship kicked off the season in style, and although the 25-year-old lost out to veteran Phil Mickelson that day in a play-off, three major titles went to Americans under the age of 30.
Woods, who claimed his first tournament victory since 2013 in front of raucous galleries at the Tour Championship, ended his year with four straight Ryder Cup losses and a defeat by Mickelson in their overly-hyped and ultimately low-quality $9 million match in Las Vegas.
But nothing can take away from the impact the 14-time major winner made on his return after over four years spent battling injuries.
The 42-year-old led on the back nine in the fourth round of the British Open at Carnoustie, and also produced a thrilling charge at the USPGA Championship before ending his title drought in the final individual event of the campaign.
As ever, the former world number one will be bullish about his chances of edging closer to Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18 major titles in 2019, but Woods has still not lifted one of golf’s biggest prizes for a decade.
A rise from outside the top 1,000 in the rankings to world number 13 in less than a year was stunning, though, and Woods will have a chance to put a disastrous Ryder Cup performance behind him when he likely doubles up as captain and player at next year’s Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
“I want to compete. I want to play,” he said of the December 2019 matches against Ernie Els’ International side earlier this month.
The pre-Ryder Cup narrative centred around Woods and the Americans’ bid to end a 25-year wait for victory on European soil, but the matchplay showdown ended in a familiar one-sided home win as Molinari teamed up with Tommy Fleetwood to devastating effect in September.
‘Moliwood’ reeled off four straight victories as a partnership, with Thomas Bjorn’s hosts ruthlessly grinding down the US to triumph 17.5-10.5 after losing the opening session, before Molinari capped a golden year by becoming the first European in history to claim a perfect five points.
The Italian won the prestigious BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, clinched his first PGA Tour title in the States and became the first player from his country to seal a major title before his heroics in France.
“If someone told me I would go on to win Wentworth, win on the PGA Tour, win the Open, five points at the Ryder Cup, I probably would have laughed,” he said after adding the European Tour’s Race to Dubai crown in November.
Brooks Koepka bristled late in the season at a perceived lack of media attention in his game after a magnificent 2018 which saw the 28-year-old brush off the disappointment of missing the Masters through injury by winning two majors.
He and the likes of Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Masters champion Patrick Reed will be young Americans to watch in the new year, with exciting Spaniard Jon Rahm seeking to continue his incredible rise.
The men’s season will have a more truncated feel to it with all four majors being played between April and July after drastic changes to the schedule, with the USPGA to be played before the US Open, making the British Open at Royal Portrush the final major of the year.
It was a strong year for women’s golf, with England’s Georgia Hall and Swede Pernilla Lindberg sealing thrilling major breakthroughs at the British Open and ANA Inspiration respectively.
Hall also teamed up with compatriot Charley Hull to impress in a mixed-gender European Tour event, while Lexi Thompson showcased her skills on the PGA Tour in the QBE Shootout alongside Tony Finau earlier this month.
The standout moment of 2018 came back at the start of April, though, when Lindberg denied Park Inbee an eighth major crown in a gruelling eight-hole, sudden-death play-off that started in Sunday-night gloom and ended on the Monday morning.
The world’s best will return to Dinah Shore for the year’s first major in just three months’ time, only weeks before all eyes turn to Augusta National.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.