Mystery illness sickens East Carolina players, coach at NCAA women’s golf tournament

ECU women’s golf (Courtesy: Instagram / @ecuwgolf

AUSTIN, Texas – The East Carolina women’s golf team learned lakes, ponds and sand traps are not the only hazards at a golf tournament.

Due to illness, three members of ECU’s five-person team  were forced to sit out Tuesday’s second round of the three-round NCAA regional golf tournament at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas. Junior Carley Cox and freshman Kathryn Carson were the lone members of the Pirates’ roster to compete in the second round.

Because Dorthea Forbrigd , Kate Law and Lisa Pettersson did not participate Tuesday, ECU is ineligible to advance beyond the preliminary rounds of the 18-team regional tournament. In Wednesday’s round three, only Law was unable to play.

However, the Pirates received a ‘DNF’ on the leaderboard for round three due to not having at least four players post a score in each round of competition. It’s the first time in program history the Pirates were unable to post a score in tournament play.

ECU women’s golf (Courtesy: Instagram / @ecuwgolf

ECU head women’s golf coach Kevin Williams, who was also forced to leave the course Monday, was with his team for Wednesday’s third and final round. All players and staff members were healthy enough to travel back to Greenville, NC Wednesday evening.

East Carolina is not the only program impacted by the mystery illness. CBS Austin reports Travis County health officials are investigating how 17 people were sickened. According to officials, investigators are interviewing people about their food history, but no stool samples were collected because many who became ill have already left Austin.

According to a report in Golfweek, one theory as to where the virus originated from is on-course drinking coolers. The report says, in addition to replacing coolers with individual bottles of water, tournament staff placed hand sanitizer throughout the course and clubhouse.

However, through an athletics department spokesman, head coach Kevin Williams confirms to News 3 that he never drank from a water cooler on the course. Williams suspects the cause could be the flu or food. But, a spokesperson for the Texas women’s golf program says they are confident this was not a food service issue, but rather something viral in nature that quickly spread from person to person.