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Sports world pays tribute to Arnold Palmer, dead at 87

Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest golfers who ever lived, passed away at the age of 87 on Sunday night.

>> Golf legend Arnold Palmer dead at 87

>> PHOTOS: Remembering Arnold Palmer

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths in 2016

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The sports world, stunned by his passing, expressed its sadness with heartfelt messages on social media. 

>> Click here or scroll down to see what people were saying

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Photos: Remembering Arnold Palmer

Golf legend Arnold Palmer dead at 87

Tiger Woods plans his return to the PGA

Tiger Woods has named the tournament where he hopes to begin a comeback.

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The former No. 1 golfer in the world hasn't played a PGA tournament in over a year.

But he wrote Wednesday that his goal is to play in the Safeway Open in mid-October, which marks the beginning of the next PGA season.

He also said he aims to play in a tournament in November and another in December.

Woods has been trying to find his game again after undergoing multiple back surgeries in 2015.

"My rehabilitation is to the point where I'm comfortable making plans, but I still have work to do," he wrote on his website.

Woods' return could be welcome news for the PGA, which has faced the challenge of replacing the sport's most recognizable face.

Major tournaments have staggered in ratings when Woods was absent.

Coincidentally, the last PGA tournament in which Woods played in August 2015 got a huge ratings spike when he briefly led the field.

Woods is currently ranked No. 711 in the world.

Rory McIlroy drops out of Olympics over Zika virus concerns

The world's biggest sports competition is going to be without one of golf's biggest names.

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Rory McIlroy, ranked No. 4 in the overall world standings, has decided not to compete in the Olympic Games because of concerns over the Zika virus.

McIlroy said in a statement, "Even though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless and a risk I am unwilling to take." 

McIlroy's decision is bad news for the sport of golf, which is making its return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence, and for Ireland, the country for which McIlroy had pledged to play.

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and is known to cause birth defects. Brazil has been facing a Zika outbreak since May 2015.

It's unclear how risky it is to visit Rio de Janeiro this August. More than 100 distinguished physicians and scientists have called for the Olympic Games to be moved.

Just four months ago, the World Health Organization said Zika was "spreading explosively." But the organization has also maintained the risk for the Olympics is very low. A Brazilian official cited a University of Cambridge study that found of the 500,000 foreign tourists traveling to the games, one will get infected.

McIlroy may have company. Rickie Fowler, the world's No. 6-ranked golfer, is reportedly also questioning if he'll play in the games.

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This video includes clips from WBBMCCTVCNNNBC and Nike and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

Imperfect ‘10’ for Els on first hole at Masters

No one can win a golf tournament on the first hole, but World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els showed everyone how to put yourself in an almost impossible position after only one hole, taking seven putts for a 10 on Thursday in the first round of the 80th Masters.

All but one putt was within 2 feet. One from 11 inches resulted in a miss that left him 4 feet for his next. He also had a one-handed swat that missed.

There have been four players in tourney history who have scored an “8” on the first hole, one that played among the top three most difficult holes of the day through 3 p.m., including Olin Browne and Scott Simpson in 1998, Billy Casper in 2001 and Jeev Milka Singh in 2007.

Els’ 10 isn’t close to the worst Masters hole score in competition. Tom Weiskopf once made “13” at the par-3 12th in 1980 and Tommy Nakajima matched that at the par-5 13th in 1998.

In 74 previous Masters’ rounds on the first hole, Els had never scored worse than a double-bogey “6” once, while making seven birdies, 56 pars and 10 bogeys. And he previously had only one hole with worse than a double bogey in his 21 previous Masters.

Els has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and four majors, two British Opens and two U.S. Opens.

Bubba Watson will paint over Confederate flag on General Lee

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Golfer Bubba Watson plans to paint over the Confederate flag on the roof of his vintage General Lee, ESPN reports.

Watson, a University of Georgia grad and Masters Champion, owns one of the original cars from the 1970s television show the "Dukes of Hazzard."

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Watson tweeted Thursday night, "All men are created equal, I believe that so I will be painting the American flag over the roof of the General Lee."

Watson bought the 1969 Dodge Charger for $110,000 several years ago.

Watson's removal of the flag comes after TV Land decided to pull re-runs of the "Dukes of Hazzard" from its network.

Controversy surrounding the Confederate flag came after the deadly shooting of nine people at a church in North Carolina.

The suspect in the shooting was photographed several times with the flag before the massacre.

For more stories on the Confederate flag debate, visit the AJC special section.

ESPN report ties golfer Phil Mickelson to money laundering, gambling

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An ESPN investigation claims golfer Phil Mickelson is implicated in an “illegal gambling operation” that handled bets on sporting events. The network's investigative unit Outside the Lines cites unnamed sources and court documents in its report.

After a former sports gambling handicapper pleaded guilty to laundering about $2.75 million, sources told Outside the Lines the money came from Mickelson.

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But Mickelson has not been legally accused of wrongdoing, is not charged with a crime and is not under federal investigation, according to ESPN.

Watch the ESPN report on mobile here

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