Like any sports fan, Zach Johnson is a fan of the Olympic Games — just maybe not golf in the Olympic Games.
Johnson, who was three world ranking spots and two American contention spots out of qualifying for the Olympics, is not sure his sport — making its debut in the Games after a 112-year absence — belongs among the others.
“I don’t know if golf has its place in the Olympics now,” Johnson said in an Open Championship news conference Monday. “We are relevant 24/7, 365 days of the year, if that’s your barometer and criteria, relevancy. I think golf fans really look forward to the majors … and the Ryder Cup in particular. I know, as a player, those are my main motivations.”
He added: “No offense to the Olympics but I’d rather be on the Ryder Cup team. As an American golfer I have that opportunity and that’s what I’d rather.”
World Nos. 1-4, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, have all withdrawn from the Games, citing health and scheduling concerns. Scheduling and exposure are two of the reasons why Zach Johnson believes what he does about the sport’s involvement, and that less prominent sports like wrestling, gymnastics, and aquatics should have center stage.
“Those athletes train essentially for three or four years for that one opportunity and one week,” the 40-year-old said. “You can argue that basketball and soccer, do they really need to be in there either? My guess is they want a World Cup before they want a gold medal, they’d want an NBA Championship before they want a gold medal.”
Johnson tees off beside Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson on Thursday in a quest to defend his Open title.