Jason Day

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Jason Day ‘definitely’ wants to play 2020 Olympics

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Australian golfer Jason Day, who skipped the Rio Olympics while ranked No. 1 in the world, said he “definitely wants to” play at the 2020 Tokyo Games, should he qualify.

Day, 30, withdrew one month before the Rio Olympics, citing Zika virus concerns.

The top four players in the world at the time skipped the Rio Games — Day, Dustin JohnsonJordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

“The biggest thing, it’s really unfortunate because I didn’t want it to come off the way it did,” Day said Wednesday. “It was just difficult because I know that if you’re in a certain sport sometimes you only get these opportunities once, and I’m in a sport where I can stick around for a very long time. If I’m good enough, I can be in multiple Olympic teams.”

Day struggled last season, going winless and falling to No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

If Olympic golf qualifying remains the same for 2020, Day must either stay ranked in the top 15 or be one of the top two ranked Aussies come 2020 to assure himself a spot on the team.

Marc Leishman is No. 13, followed by Adam Scott at No. 30. Both of them also skipped Rio.

“I want to represent Australia very much so,” Day said. “Japan’s one of my favorite countries to ever visit, so if I have the opportunity to get on the team, I’m getting my plane ticket straight away.

“I’m looking forward to playing.”

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Rory McIlroy: I was wrong about Olympic golf

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Rory McIlroy said he was “pleasantly surprised” to “be proven wrong somewhat” about golf’s place in the Olympics after his criticisms before withdrawing ahead of the Games.

“It was nice to be proven wrong somewhat in terms of, like I thought golf was sort of going to get lost a little bit,” McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of The Barclays. “It was away from the village; I thought it was going to, yeah, just sort of blend in with everything else and be, not forgotten about, but just one of a lot of sports that are there obviously. But to see the crowds and see the turnout, I was glad to be somewhat proven wrong.”

Australian Adam Scott, perhaps the most outspoken critic of golf’s Olympic format out of the sport’s stars, maintained his view Wednesday. Scott also skipped the Olympics.

“I still believe that in the long term, I think it would be very easy to make it a very big deal for golf and the growth with amateurs playing the Olympics,” Scott said. “I think it’s very hard for the professionals to fit in the Olympic system at the moment, unless a lot of events are willing to sacrifice a lot.”

Jordan Spieth said he “wished” he was at the Olympics. Spieth pulled out of the Olympics in July due to health concerns, including the Zika virus.

“At the time I made the decision, it was the right decision for me,” Spieth said Wednesday. “And I told you guys in that press conference, it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. The potential for regret was going to be there, and it certainly was while I was watching, so that’s why I tweeted out, ‘I’m looking forward to setting it as a goal to be there in 2020.'”

Australian Jason Day, ranked No. 1 in the world, said he watched one hole of the Olympics and didn’t regret skipping the Rio Games due to Zika concerns. Day said he’s looking forward to hopefully qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“I didn’t really watch much of the Olympics at all to be honest,” Day said Wednesday. “I think I watched Usain Bolt win, and I watched one swimming, which was a four-by relay or whatever it was. I can’t remember what it was. That’s how much I know about the Olympics.”

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Jason Day, Shane Lowry skip Olympics due to Zika virus

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AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Jason Day pulled out of the Olympics on Tuesday because of the Zika virus, costing golf its No. 1 player as it returns from a century-long absence at the games.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry, the U.S. Open co-runner-up and world No. 25, also withdrew Tuesday due to Zika.

The sport has lost two of its biggest stars in the last week, adding to the perception that the Olympics are not a high priority. Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion, also said Zika will keep from competing in Rio de Janeiro.

“The sole reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” Day said in a statement. “I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life.”

Day and his wife, Ellie, had their second child in November, and he has said they want more children.

Day and Lowry are the fifth and sixth golfers to specifically cite Zika for not going to Rio. The others are McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Marc Leishman, whose wife’s immune system has not fully recovered after she nearly died last year of toxic shock syndrome.

American cyclist Tejay van Garderen is among a handful of athletes outside of golf who also cited Zika as the reason behind not going to Rio. Basketball star Stephen Curry didn’t specifically cite Zika but noted that “other factors” played a role in his decision to skip the games.

Brazil has been the hardest hit of the approximately 60 countries that have reported an outbreak of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects and possible neurological problems in adults.

Day first expressed concern a month ago at the Memorial and said he had been consulting doctors so he could make a smart choice.

“Medical experts have confirmed that while perhaps slight, a decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and to my family,” Day said. “While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. I will not place them at risk. … I hope all golf and Olympics fans respect and understand my position.”

Australia has three players in the top 50 in the world, and all of them have withdrawn — Day, Adam Scott (No. 8) and Leishman (No. 39). Next in line would be Scott Hend (No. 75) and Marcus Fraser (No. 81).

Day had been among the strongest proponents of competing in the Olympics, as had McIlroy and other young stars. But as the July 11 deadline nears for qualifying for Rio, some top golfers have been wavering.

Among the stars who plan to play or have not decided are Jordan Spieth, U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Masters champion Danny Willett of England.

Golf already has lost three of the top 10 players in the world. Scott was the first to withdraw. He said Olympics were never his priority in a year in which the schedule is crammed with major championships with far more historical significant than an Olympic medal.

The sport has not been part of the Games since 1904 in St. Louis.

Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa cited scheduling concerns when he withdrew. Vijay Singh of Fiji briefly mentioned Zika but was more bothered by the schedule. Graeme McDowell, who was in line to replace McIlroy, withdrew late last week because his wife is due with their second child a few weeks after the Olympics and he did not want to be out of the country in the weeks leading to the birth.

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