Jordan Spieth, on the fence about participating, informed Olympics officials on Monday that he will sit out next month’s Summer Games in Rio.
Spieth, the second Team USA member after Dustin Johnson to pull out of the games that start in about a month in Brazil, cited health concerns for his withdrawal, according to Peter Dawson, president of the International Golf Federation. Dawson made the announcement at Royal Troon, site of this week’s Open Championship.
With Spieth joining DJ as well as top-ranked Jason Day, No. 4 Rory McIlroy, and No. 8 Adam Scott, among others, choosing not to play for a variety of reasons, that means the men’s event will be missing six of the top 10 top tour players in the world.
Spieth’s WD means U.S. hopes for a gold medal rest with Bubba Watson (No. 5 in the rankings), Rickie Fowler (No. 7), Patrick Reed (No. 13) and Matt Kuchar (No. 15).
Spieth, who originally said he would relish the chance to represent his country in the Olympics, recently said he was concerned about crime, the Zika virus and other issues. He told IGF officials he will expand on his Olympic decision during Tuesday’s press conference.
The two-time major winner made his choice public not long after defending Open champion Zach Johnson wondered about the viability of golf in the Olympics.
"I don't know if golf has its place in the Olympics now," Johnson told reporters on Monday at Royal Troon. "We are relevant 24/7, 365 days of the year, if that's your barometer and criteria relevancy."
Other sports, like wrestling — which, ironically, the International Olympic Committee dropped from the 2020 games to make way for golf — deserve the global showcase more than golf, said Johnson.
"I think fans really look forward to the majors ... and the Ryder Cup in particular. I know, as a player, those are my motivations," Johnson added. "No offense to the Olympics but I'd rather be on the Ryder Cup team, personally. As an athlete and an American golfer I have that opportunity and … I’d rather be on the Ryder Cup team and help our nation out there."