Dustin Johnson, the world’s fifth-ranked golfer, will not play in the Olympics should he qualify.
“Dustin gave the Olympics a great deal of thought, and we discussed the pros and cons of him participating at length,” Johnson’s manager said in an email, according to Golfweek. “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).”
The Tokyo Olympic men’s golf tournament is July 30-Aug. 2, two weeks after the Open Championship. The FedEx Cup Playoffs begin Aug. 16.
Johnson previously said in January that he wasn’t sure the Olympics would fit well into his schedule.
Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open winner and world No. 1 in 2017 and 2018, is the third-highest ranked American at the moment behind Brooks Koepka (who also spoke about the Olympics in January, saying it’s not as important as majors) and Justin Thomas.
The top four Americans in the Official World Golf Ranking after the U.S. Open in June are in line to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Though Johnson is currently the third American in the world rankings, he was as of last week the No. 7 American in projected Olympic qualifying standings, according to rankings guru @VC606 on Twitter.
Projected Olympic qualifying standings differ from the current world rankings, in part because they take into account only tournaments after the 2018 U.S. Open. Therefore, Johnson’s win at the 2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic is part of his current world ranking score (albeit not a large part as more recent results are weighted the most in a two-year rolling window) but not his Olympic qualifying score.
Johnson’s absence presents one fewer golfer for Tiger Woods to pass to get into the U.S. top four. Woods is ranked 11th in the world and seventh among Americans. Given Woods’ limited schedule, he must maximize the tournaments he does play to boost his Olympic qualifying chances.
He may need to win one of the remaining top-tier tournaments — The PLAYERS Championship next week, the Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May or the U.S. Open in June.
Johnson did qualify for the Rio Olympics but withdrew a month before the Games, citing Zika virus concerns as other golfers did.
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