In the wake of Tuesday’s news that world No. 1 Jason Day would not be playing in this year’s Olympic golf tournament because of concerns about the Zika virus, second-ranked Jordan Spieth was asked about his own participation Tuesday ahead of this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. He’s still unsure.
“Right now, I’m uncertain,” Spieth said, per the Golf Channel. “Always been excited about the possible opportunity, but there’s quite a few different factors that would turn somebody away from going. It’s not just one, there’s quite a few factors.
“I personally have not received enough information that would allow me to make a confident decision either way at this point.”
Irishman Shane Lowry, who finished second at this year’s U.S. Open and won the Bridgestone last year, also announced Tuesday that he would be skipping the Rio Games because of Zika fears. He joined Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman, Vijay Singh and Charl Schwartzel in spurning the Games, which will feature a golf event for the first time since 1904.
Spieth said Zika wasn’t his only concern.
“Just the security threats that Brazil and Rio have,” Spieth said. “I’ve heard some stories on both sides, and I’m going to get answers soon on how we plan to be secured down there. 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.
“And if I feel there’s any significant threat, then is it worth it? Probably not,” he added. “I just don’t have a lot of information yet, and I will by next week, I think, have a significant amount more.”
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, meanwhile, remains all in (even if Ted Scott, his caddie, will skip Rio because of Zika fears). Watson and his wife cannot have children, so Zika is less of a worry for him (the virus causes birth defects).
“I’ve had to adopt my two kids,” Watson said, via the Guardian. “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 percent in. There’s ways I can get out: not making the team, the U.S. 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.”
Sixty players will qualify for the Olympic golf tournament in both the men’s and women’s events based on the world rankings as of July 11, with the top 15 receiving automatic bids. However, no country can have more than four golfers participate. As it stands now, Spieth, Watson (No. 6), U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson (No. 3) and Rickie Fowler (No. 7) would represent the United States. No. 13 Patrick Reed and No. 15 Brooks Koepka are next in line should anyone drop out, and both are in the field at the WGC this week.