clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed commit to play for Team USA at 2016 Rio Olympics

Rickie Fowler goes in a different direction from Dustin Johnson, opting to play for the American team in golf's return to the Olympics.

The first Olympic golf competition in 112 years got a big boost on Sunday afternoon in Scotland, where both Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed committed to play for the USA in Rio de Janeiro.

The confirmation comes a little more than a day after Dustin Johnson became the first qualified American to pull out of the Olympics. DJ made the announcement around 11:30 p.m. on Friday night, joining international stars like Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Vijay Singh, Marc Leishman and Graeme McDowell.

Despite the withdrawals, there are still high-profile commitments, but the status of the Americans threatened to doom Olympic golf's chances beyond the 2020 games in Tokyo, where it already is on the schedule. Fowler's status has been unknown, if not shaky. He was the fourth and final qualified American, behind DJ, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson. He'd expressed concerns about security and health issues but said he'd still like to play for his country. That's a refrain we'd heard from several of the big name players, only to have them withdraw weeks or months later.

Then on Saturday, Geoff Shackelford reported that Rickie would make a "pre-tournament statement" at Royal Troon before The Open. That sounded ... ominous. The Ricktator, however, tweeted Sunday that he's in!

So that locked both Rickie and Bubba in for the American side, which would have four players go if they had four inside the top 15 in the world rankings. Every other country will have two players.

Reed, who is No. 13 in the world, was the replacement for DJ after that withdrawal on Friday night. Reed was adamant on Wednesday that he would play if one of the top four withdrew, stating:

If one of them happened to pull out, then I will definitely be playing.

Any time I can wear stars and stripes, I do it. I get the call tomorrow, I'll be on the flight. It doesn't matter to me on where it is, when it is. If I can play for my country, I'm going to go play.

But once DJ bailed two days later, and it was now real that Reed would be going, he backed off those pronouncements from Wednesday. At the Scottish Open on Saturday, he then said:

"This is all news to me. I haven't sat in any of the meetings for Team USA. I haven't had any contact with our team captain, so I'll see where everything is, what we do with everybody, and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully I can play.

"I wouldn't really say I have doubts. It's something I have to weigh and talk to (wife) Justine and talk to everybody about.

"As far as I know I'm going to go and play, but at the end of the day I need to go and talk to my family and my whole team and make sure it's the right decision."

So that left you wondering if now Reed, who seemed like a lock, might also back out as a replacement. But a day after that waffle, he said he'd talked things through with his wife and his team and that he was back to being "all in."

The Americans have three of four qualified players committed -- Bubba, Rickie and Reed. That leaves us all wondering about Spieth, the headliner of the group. He has until midnight local in Troon on Monday to make a final decision. He's stated doubts about some of the issues that have led to the other high-profile withdrawals but also expressed the desire to play for the USA. If he does back out, Matt Kuchar, No. 15 in the world, would be the replacement for the USA.

We'll get word from Spieth shortly, but for now Olympics organizers can exhale with the commitment of Rickie and Reed.