In the past 12 hours, three notable contenders for Olympic Gold have pulled out of the Summer Games in Tokyo.
Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Tyrrell Hatton each announced on Twitter that they would not be representing their respective countries in next month’s Olympic golf event, which will be held July 29-Aug. 1 at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
Garcia was replaced on the Spain team, which also includes U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm, by Rafa Cabrera Bello, who tied for fifth at the Rio Games in 2016.
“I have made one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” Garcia said. “I love the Olympic Games and it is always an honor to represent Spain, however my No. 1 sporting priority is in the Ryder Cup at this moment. Everyone knows what the Ryder Cup means to me. My No. 1 objective it to qualify for the European team by my own merit and not have to wait for a possible invitation. To represent Spain in the Olympic Games is a gift and enormous responsibility, and it requires 100% mental focus.”
Tommy Fleetwood subbed in for Hatton on Team Great Britain, which also features Paul Casey.
“I was very much looking forward to representing my country, however, with the ongoing issues relating to COVID-19 and international travel, along with the congested schedule we now face, I feel it is the correct decision to ensure I get the best out of my game for the remainder of the season,” Hatton said. “I look forward to attempting to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024 and wish Team [Great Britain] all the best this summer along with every athletes competing in the Games.”
Oosthuizen’s withdrawal means Christiaan Bezuidenhout will join Garrick Higgo in representing South Africa.
“Qualifying for the Olympics is a humbling accomplishment, and there’s no greater honor than representing your country, so it has been a very difficult decision for me, my team and my family to withdraw from playing in Tokyo,” Oosthuizen said. “I am focused on finishing a strong FedExCup season in the States, in addition to honoring family commitments with the new life we are building at the farm. Family has always been my core, and this is the best decision for us at this time in our lives. My best are with the South Africans competing. We will be cheering you on!”
The list of top-50 players not teeing it up in Olympics who would otherwise have qualified now looks like this: Dustin Johnson (USA), Hatton, Oosthuizen, Matt Fitzpatrick (GBR), Lee Westwood (GBR), Adam Scott (AUS) and Garcia.