Lost amongst the excitement of a wild week at the Players Championship was a bombshell dropped by the world’s number one golfer, Dustin Johnson who confirmed that he will not compete at this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.
In what will come as a massive blow to those who campaigned for golf’s reintroduction to the Games when it made its long-awaited return at Rio in 2016, the reigning Masters champion revealed that he didn’t sign up for Tokyo this summer because he’d rather focus his energy on the PGA Tour schedule.
“It’s right in the middle of a big stretch of golf for me, so that was the reason I was kind of waffling on it a little bit,” said Johnson, who missed the 2016 Games for the same reason as Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and many others – the Zika virus.
This summer’s men’s event is set for July 29-August 1 in Japan, sandwiched between The Open at Royal St. George’s and the week prior to the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. In what is an undoubtedly busy time for golf, the FedEx Cup Playoffs start two weeks after the Games while there’s also a Ryder Cup to contend with, more than enough gold for Johnson to aim for without adding medals into the mix.
“It’s a lot of traveling at a time where it’s important for me to feel like I’m focusing playing on the PGA Tour,” Johnson added, admitting that he “definitely” would have considered teeing up at the Games had the schedule been kinder to him.
No stranger to travelling, Johnson had no issue teeing up at February’s Saudi International but the lure of Olympic Gold doesn’t have the same pull as the Saudi dollar, it seems. In DJ’s defence, most golfers don’t grow up dreaming about being Olympians. Many still question golf’s place at the Games and when the sport’s best player isn’t willing to prioritise it in his schedule, that only adds more question marks to golf’s inclusion.
The Olympics should be the pinnacle of one’s sport. In men’s golf, would it even rank inside the top-10 most-coveted events? Perhaps if golf limited entries to amateurs, the Olympics would take on the importance it deserves?
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