Dustin Johnson, the second-ranked and hottest player in the world, added his name on Friday to the list of withdrawals from next month's Olympic Games in Rio.
The winner of the U.S. Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in his last two starts, Johnson joins world No. 1 Jason Day, No. 4 Rory McIlroy and a host of other notables who have decided not to play. Johnson is the seventh player in the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 20 to withdraw, alongside Day, McIlroy, Adam Scott, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Hideki Matsuyama.
"As an athlete, I can think of no greater honor than representing the United States in the Olympic Games," Johnson said in a statement. "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. This was not an easy decision for me, but my concerns about the Zika Virus cannot be ignored. 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 first American to remove his name from consideration. His 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.
Reed told reporters just one day ago at the Scottish Open that he will accept an Olympic invite.
"Any time I can wear stars and stripes, I do it," he said. "I get the call tomorrow, I'll be on the flight. It doesn't matter to me on where it is, when it is. If I can play for my country, I'm going to go play."
Should Spieth, Fowler or Watson opt to withdraw, the next American berth would go to world No. 15 Matt Kuchar.
Johnson had said just last week, prior to the WGC-Bridgestone, that he was still planning to compete in the Olympics after a positive meeting with USA Golf.
“I thought the meeting was good,” Johnson said. “It cleared up a lot of things. Still waiting to hear back on a couple things that all four of us (the four American Olympians) had a concern about, but we’ll have some answers early next week. At this point I’m going to go to the Olympics and represent my country, and I’m looking forward to it.
At the time, Johnson stated that the meeting was mostly focused on security: "I think they’ve got it covered pretty well. We talked very, very briefly about Zika, but it was mostly all security concerns.”
Neither Winkle nor Johnson will comment on the decision until Johnson arrives in Scotland for next week's Open.
As for the remainder of Friday's statement, Johnson added: "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."
Qualifying for the 60-man field ends July 11.