Top Ranked American Golfer Withdraws From Rio

(ATR) Seven of the world's top 20 men's golfers are choosing to skip the Olympic golf tournament.

(ATR) Dustin Johnson is the latest golfer to pull out of the Rio Olympic tournament citing concerns over the Zika virus.

Johnson, who won the U.S. Open and World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational in his last two starts, had been the top ranked golfer in the International Golf Federation (IGF) Olympic ranking before his decision to withdraw on Friday.

The 32-year-old golfer is also the first American to remove his name from next month’s Olympic tournament.

In a statement released on July 8, Johnson said: "As an athlete, I can think of no greater honor than representing the United States in the Olympic Games. However, after much careful consideration and discussion with both my family and my team, I have made the decision to withdraw from the 2016 Olympic Games."

Johnson said he and his fiancée, Paulina Gretzky, are planning to have more children. They have an 18-month-old son, Tatum.

"This was not an easy decision for me, but my concerns about the Zika Virus cannot be ignored," Johnson said. "Paulina 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."

Johnson is the seventh player in the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 20 to withdraw, alongside Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Hideki Matsuyama.

Johnson’s spot is slated to go to Patrick Reed, who will join Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler in representing the United States. The U.S. is the only country on the men’s side with four players qualified – the maximum.

Spieth and Fowler still have not committed 100-percent to playing in Rio, with their decisions potentially coming at this week’s British Open at Royal Troon in Scotland. Watson, a two-time Masters champion, has confirmed that he will play next month.

Qualification for the Olympic tournament to be played at Gil Hanse designed course in Barra da Tijuca concludes this weekend. As of Monday, the 60-men field for the Games will be set, barring any more withdrawals.

Johnson’s statement concluded: "I believe I am making the right decision for me and most importantly, my family. While I am sure some will be critical of my decision, my hope is that most will understand and support it. That being said, those who choose to compete in Rio certainly have my respect and best wishes for a unforgettable and safe experience."

Written by Brian Pinelli

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