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Dustin Johnson, the world’s top-ranked male golfer, will not play the Tokyo Olympics, opening up a spot for another American, according to Golf Channel on Wednesday.
“I really didn’t think much about it,” Johnson said on Saturday at The Players Championship after being told about the broadcast report. “I actually didn’t really ever decide whether I was going to play or not, I just didn’t sign up. But 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. It’s a long way to travel.”
The decision is unsurprising, given Johnson said last March that he would not have played the Olympics had they been held in 2020. In more recent comments, including two weeks ago, Johnson said he had not decided yet on the Tokyo Games in 2021.
Last year, Johnson said a reason was prioritizing the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which were to start two weeks after the Olympic tournament. This year, the Playoffs start three weeks after the Olympics. A World Golf Championships event has been inserted the week after the Olympics.
Johnson is now a FedEx Cup champion, crossing off that career goal last year.
“The British [Open] is a couple weeks before [the Olympics],” Johnson, the first high-profile golfer to publicly withdraw from Olympic consideration, said Saturday. “It’s a lot of traveling at a time where it’s important for me to feel like I’m focused playing on the PGA Tour.
“If there was a little more time, especially if you weren’t trying to fly right from Tokyo to Memphis and play WGC, yeah, I obviously definitely would have thought about it a lot more. If there was a little more space between there for sure.”
Johnson also qualified for the Rio Olympics but withdrew a month before the Games, citing Zika virus concerns as other golfers did.
The top four Americans in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) after June’s U.S. Open will qualify outright for the Tokyo Games (assuming they are top 15 in the world, which at this point looks certain).
Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa are the second, third and fourth U.S. men in Olympic qualifying standings. Last weekend, DeChambeau moved back into the top four, knocking out Xander Schauffele, who now most benefits from Johnson bowing out.
Rio Olympian Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and Brooks Koepka are also in the mix.
Simpson said on Tuesday that he has not decided whether he will go to the Olympics if he qualifies, but that “it would be hard to put that much effort into going to Japan.”
“It would really shoot me in the foot for the Playoffs, and right now in my career, Playoffs are more important to me than the Olympics,” Simpson said.
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Dustin Johnson to skip Tokyo Olympics golf tournament originally appeared on NBCSports.com