Olympics 2016: Johnson, Spieth, Fowler and Watson Meet with USA Golf

June 30, 2016

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson is planning to play in the Olympics, and he said a meeting with USA Golf helped clear up a few concerns.

Johnson said the Zika virus was discussed only briefly. The meat of the meeting was about security.

“I think they’ve got it covered pretty well,” Johnson said.

The meeting had been planned long before Rory McIlroy and Jason Day pulled out of the Olympics in the past week, both citing concerns about the Zika virus. USA Golf is the national governing body for golf in the United States.

“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 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.”

The meeting was for the four eligible players – Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. Countries are allowed as many as four players in Rio provided they are among the top 15 in the world. Fowler has the lowest ranking at No. 7.

Spieth said he was “uncertain “and that there were “quite a few different factors that would turn somebody away from going.”


“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 said.

“I just don’t have a lot of information yet, and I will by next week, I think, have a significant amount more.”

Former Masters champion Adam Scott was the first golfer to pull out of the Olympics. He cited scheduling and family, though he has made no secret that he is more focused on pursuing titles that have more history than Olympic golf. Golf hasn’t been part of the games since 1904.

Scott saw two problems with the Olympics unrelated to Zika or any security concerns.

For starters, he believes the Olympics should be for amateurs only.

“If the idea is to grow the game, I’d make an argument that having the amateurs in the Olympics would grow the game the most – not us,” he said. “I think having a young golfer aspire to be an Olympian is more realistic as an amateur than a professional. … I think looking at the big picture, putting the amateurs in would be a better result for growing the game, if that’s the point of our sport being in the Olympics.”

The other issue is making sure the Olympics fit in the landscape of professional golf.

Eligible players will have two majors and the Olympics in a span of five weeks, and then the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs.

“It’s just kind of shoved in there at a very critical time for everything I’ve ever dreamed of winning,” Scott said. “I think they’ve got to figure out how professional golf fits in that system better, whether that’s a team event or stays individual, mixed team events, all of the above. But they should have a look at that because I think it’ll continue to be a problem beyond these games.”