For the second time in four years, Dustin Johnson is skipping the Olympics.
The former world number one and major championship winner likely would have been one of the favorites for a gold medal in Tokyo. However, Johnson’s manager confirmed on Monday that the world’s fifth-ranked golfer will not participate in the Games this summer, even if he qualifies.
Why Dustin Johnson skipped the 2016 Olympics
The 2016 Olympics marked the first time since 1904 that golf was included in the Games and Dustin Johnson was one of the clear favorites to win the gold. Johnson was ranked second in the world at the time and earlier that summer had won his first and only major championship at the 2016 U.S. Open. He followed that up with a World Golf Championships victory two weeks later and also had a top-10 finish at The Open Championship.
However, concerns over the Zika virus kept DJ from competing for a gold medal. He certainly wasn’t the only big-name player to drop out. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth, among others, also failed to make the trip to Rio due to concerns over the virus. Justin Rose would win the gold that week.
Why Dustin Johnson is skipping the Tokyo Olympics
First announced by Golfweek, Johnson’s manager, David Winkle, confirmed that DJ will not be playing in Tokyo due to the condensed PGA Tour schedule. Johnson is choosing to focus on the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which occur soon after the Olympics.
“Dustin gave the Olympics a great deal of thought and we discussed the pros and cons of him participating at length. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference and priority. As much as he would be honored to be an Olympian, the FedEx Cup Playoffs are also very important to him. Having had a few close calls in the Playoffs, he really wants to win them before his time is done and feels that he wouldn’t be giving himself the best opportunity to do so if he added a lengthy international trip just prior to their beginning (and shortly after returning from two weeks in Europe).”David Winkle on Dustin Johnson
The Open Championship, the season’s final major championship, takes place from July 16-19 at England’s Royal St. George’s Golf Club. The Olympic golf competition in Tokyo is from July 30-August 2. The FedEx Cup Playoffs begin in Boston just 11 days after the Olympic competition ends.
Who would take Johnson’s place?
With just 60 players in the Olympics, the maximum amount of players from one country allowed to play is just four, and only if those four players are ranked in the top 15 in the world. Otherwise, the maximum number allowed per country is two. With nine players currently in the top 15, the United States will most certainly be the only country with four players in Tokyo. Ranked fifth in the world, Dustin Johnson was nearly a lock.
With DJ now out, the next man up is Webb Simpson. As of today, Brooks Koepka (No. 3), Justin Thomas (No. 4), Patrick Cantlay (No. 6), and Simpson (No. 8) would be in. Still with a chance to qualify are Patrick Reed (No. 9), Tiger Woods (No. 11), Xander Schauffele (No. 12), Bryson DeChambeau (No. 14), and Tony Finau (No. 15).
The cutoff date for Olympic qualifying is June 22. Dustin Johnson is the first high-profile player to officially announce his withdrawal.