Jordan Spieth withdrew from the U.S. Olympic golf team on Monday.
The Texan joins fellow American Dustin Johnson, Aussie Jason Day, and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy in opting out of Rio. This leaves world #5 Bubba Watson as the top-ranked player set to compete at the Olympics. Vijay Singh began the trend of spurning Rio due to concerns over contracting the Zika virus.
Here is the list of 60 male golfers who will compete in the Olympics next month: pic.twitter.com/pdckoWIkbR
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) July 11, 2016
Spieth cited “health concerns” atop polluted water and crime among the reasons he might not go to Rio.
“Right now I’m uncertain,” explained Spieth last month. “Always been excited about the possible opportunity, but there’s quite a few different factors that would turn somebody away from going. It’s not just one, there’s quite a few factors.I personally have not received enough information that would allow me to make a confident decision either way at this point, so it’ll be as we gather further information I’ll be able to lean one way or the other, and when I feel confident on either side, I’ll make the choice.”
He made the choice to stay home.
The lack of a golfing tradition at the Olympics and the lack of prize money in Rio likely plays a role as big as Zika in dissuading the best from joining the rest. The games last featured golf in 1904 at the St. Louis Olympics. The failure of golf’s biggest stars to fill the IOC’s wallet (largely because the IOC decided to withhold from their wallets) by balking at participating may mean another 112 years in exile for the sport—or more persuasive enticements next go-round than a gold medal comprised of 1 percent gold.
The U.S. men’s team still appears formidable despite the absence of Johnson and Spieth. Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, and Matt Kuchar all decided to make the trip to South America. Although countries send teams of women and men to compete in the separate tournaments, individual players take home golds, silvers, and bronzes.