Saturday 7 December 2019

Jordan Spieth casts doubt about his participation at Rio Olympics

Jordan Spieth does not know if he will play in Rio
Jordan Spieth does not know if he will play in Rio

Carl Markham

Two-time major winner Jordan Spieth admits he is uncertain about his participation in this summer's Olympics.

World number one Jason Day and number four Rory McIlroy are the two highest-profile players to pull out citing fears over the Zika virus, leaving Spieth as the highest-ranked player set to play in Rio de Janeiro.

Spieth accepts his position as the poster boy of American golf puts added pressure on him but he will weigh up all the issues before making a decision.

"Right now, I'm uncertain," said the 22-year-old ahead of this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

"Do I feel an added burden? Potentially. I think all four of the Americans do.

"I feel like one of four with maybe a slightly higher burden now that the guys have dropped out.

"I've always been excited about the possibility but there's quite a few different factors that would turn somebody away from going.

"I have not received enough information to make an informed decision either way or not so as we gather more information I will be able to make a decision one way or the other.

"When I feel confident, I will make a decision either side."

Among the other golfers not going to Rio because of Zika fears are Ireland's Shane Lowry, Australian Marc Leishman, South African trio Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and Fiji's Vijay Singh.

World number eight Adam Scott and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell have declined to go for other reasons.

"I've heard some stories on both sides about the security threats that Brazil and Rio have," Spieth added.

"Transportation is a big security issue down there, how to get from one place to another with the different kind of violence that we don't see here.

"I'm going to get answers soon on how we plan to be secured down there.

"This is personal safety type and future planning-type decision which is going to outweigh any pressure that we feel (to compete).

"Let's not put me on save the Olympics. The Olympics are going to be fine.

"No matter what I do there's already been enough players (withdrawing) that I think it'll definitely have an impact.

"Pending some crazy, great finish or whatever, I think there's a significantly lower likelihood now of it staying in the Olympics than there was six months ago."

While Spieth is still considering his options, compatriot and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is fully committed.

Zika is not a concern for the big-hitting left-hander and his wife as they cannot have children and have an adopted son and daughter, although his regular caddie Ted Scott will not be travelling to Brazil because of his own worries.

"If I was the other way and I was planning on having more kids, I would not go," Watson said.

"But I'm not. I'm in a situation where that's not happening, so my decision was a lot easier.

"I've had to adopt my two kids. We can't have kids so that aspect is completely wiped away.

"Teddy is not going. He's worried about certain things and he's in a situation where he can still have kids.

"When it comes to security, I mean, I've seen the worst. I've grown up in what some people wouldn't say was a country club lifestyle so I'm not worried about that.

"I am 100 per cent in. There's ways I can get out: not making the team, the US Government or the Olympic association telling me I can't go.

"That would be the only way I'm not going - or a bad car wreck."

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