Dustin Johnson, the hottest player in golf, on Friday night added his name to the list of withdrawals from the Olympics.
“As an athlete, I can think of no greater honor than representing the United States in the Olympic Games,” Johnson said in a statement released late Friday night by his agent, David Winkle of Hambric Sports Management. “However, after much careful consideration and discussion with both my family and my team, I have made the decision to withdraw from the 2016 Olympic Games. This was not an easy decision for me, but my concerns about the Zika Virus cannot be ignored. Paulina and I plan to have more children in the near future, and I feel it would be irresponsible to put myself, her or our family at risk. I believe I am making the right decision for me and most importantly, my family. While I am sure some will be critical of my decision, my hope is that most will understand and support it. That being said, those who choose to compete in Rio certainly have my respect and best wishes for a unforgettable and safe experience.”
World No. 2 Johnson, winner of the U.S. Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in his last two starts, joins world No. 1 Jason Day, No. 4 Rory McIlroy and a host of other notables in deciding to skip the event. He is the seventh player in the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 20 to withdraw, joining Day, McIlroy, Adam Scott, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Hideki Matsuyama.
Johnson is the first American to remove his name from consideration. His spot is slated to go to Patrick Reed, who will join Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler in representing the United States. The U.S. is the only country on the men’s side with four players qualified – the maximum.
Johnson said just last week prior to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that he was still planning to compete in the Olympics after a positive meeting with USA Golf.
“I thought the meeting was good,” Johnson said. “It cleared up a lot of things. Still waiting to hear back on a couple things that all four of us [the four American Olympians] had a concern about, but we’ll have some answers early next week. At this point I’m going to go to the Olympics and represent my country, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Winkle said that neither he nor Johnson will comment on his decision until Johnson arrives in Scotland for next week’s Open.