Jordan Spieth addressed the Rio Olympics before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and he understands why many golfers are withdrawing. Spieth, who has remained committed to attending, has now expressed a little more concern.
"“Right now, I’m uncertain,” Spieth said, 43 days before the opening round in Brazil. “Always been excited about the possibility, but there’s quite a few different factors that would turn somebody away from going.”"
But Spieth also offered up this gem:
"“No matter what I do, it’s already – there’s already been enough players (withdrawing) that I think it’ll definitely have an impact,” Spieth said. “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.”"
Basically Spieth is giving himself an out that doesn’t involve Zika, saying it makes no difference what he does because the precedent has been set in the IOC’s mind and golf won’t likely be back after the 2020 games in Tokyo. Should he be bashed for not going if that becomes his final decision? Spieth isn’t married, although he does have a girlfriend, and doesn’t have any children or appear to be ready to have any in the near future, but when thinking of the Olympics, one can’t help but conjure up images of the best athletes in the world.
So far, that is not the case with golf, and even if Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler all go, does it make it more fair that the number two, three, six, and seven ranked players all from the U.S. will be there facing off against, to an extent, somewhat inferior competition in just another tournament? Watson had this to say about golfers withdrawing, “If I was the other way and I was planning on having more kids, I would not go, but I’m not. I’m in a situation where that’s not happening, so my decision was a lot easier,”
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of great players who could go down to Brazil and have great rounds and walk away with a gold medal, but I’m not so sure that would be a great boost to the game of golf. People want to see Day, Spieth, and McIlroy win because they are the faces of the sport just like people wanted to see LeBron and Curry face off in seven games in the NBA Finals.
Even Serena Williams, who is the owner of four Gold medals, understands why golfers are withdrawing.
"“I don’t know if they’re missing out,” Serena told reporters, “I mean, everyone’s experience is different. My experience has been really amazing at the Olympics. I really loved going out there and competing, you know, standing out there and being an Olympic athlete. … “I think it is sad. But at the same time I obviously understand where they’re coming from and how they feel. Part of me feels that way, too, which is why I’m going in with a whole mindset of how do I protect myself, how do I prevent and also raise awareness for this? That’s kind of how I’m looking at it.”"
Whatever Spieth’s decision ends up being, it doesn’t matter because golf’s fate beyond the 2020 Olympics may have already been sealed with Day and McIlroy’s decisions.
Ironically, no female golfer has withdrawn. That’s not to say they haven’t expressed concerns, American Brittany Lincicome, who needs to play her way into the Olympics said, “Everyone is making it sound like it’s OK,” Lincicome said at the Meijer LPGA Classic, “but for some reason it’s really worrying me. I feel like I’ve dreamt my whole life of becoming a mom and having a baby. To not be able to do that just because of one golf tournament would be crushing.” For the most part they are all on board and realize that this is a huge opportunity for them to grow their side of the sport.
Male golfers don’t see it that way and clearly are not willing to risk their health or the health of their families for something they don’t believe is as special as a major championship, although I believe that we will see all of these guys compete for a medal in the 2020 games in Tokyo.