Dustin Johnson, the world No.2, has joined the growing list of leading golfers to pull out of the Olympics, and Patrick Reed suddenly doesn’t sound as keen as he did earlier in the week to replace the US Open champion in Rio next month.
Johnson confirmed his decision to opt out of the Games in Brazil in a statement, admitting he shared the same concerns as world No.1 Jason Day and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy over the Zika virus, which has been linked to defects in new-born babies.
“This was not an easy decision for me, but my concerns about the Zika virus cannot be ignored,” said the 32-year-old, who had been due to join Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler in the US men’s team. “Paulina (Gretzky, Johnson’s fiancée) 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 my family.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Reed, the next man on the list, said “any chance to wear the Stars and Stripes is something I can’t miss”. However, the 25-year-old didn’t sound like a man ready to now jump at that opportunity after completing his third round in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. “I need to go talk to my family and my team and make sure it’s the right decision,” he said, admitting that “security and Zika” were among his concerns.