Dustin Johnson will skip the men’s Olympic golf tournament outside of Tokyo this summer, becoming the first highly ranked player to take a pass on the event.
Johnson’s agent, David Winkle, confirmed the decision first reported by Golfweek.
Ranked fifth in the world, Johnson was in line to be one of four Americans eligible for the 60-player tournament scheduled to begin on July 30. Winkle cited the condensed PGA Tour schedule and Johnson’s desire to be prepared for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which begin a short time after the Olympics, as his reasons for skipping the Games.
“You just can’t do it all, given the newly compressed schedule,” Winkle said in an email. “Dustin and others learned a lot about themselves and what works for them last year, so I applaud him for not overextending himself and keeping his personal priorities in line.”
Johnson was eligible for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where Justin Rose won the gold medal. Johnson elected not to play, as did others, due to concerns over the Zika virus.
This time, Winkle said, it’s more about scheduling. The men’s Olympic tournament begins just 11 days after the conclusion of The Open at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England. The Open is two weeks after a World Golf Championship event in Memphis, Tennessee, and that is two weeks after the U.S. Open.
The FedEx Cup playoffs begin 11 days after the Olympic tournament with the Northern Trust in Boston, followed by the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in consecutive weeks.
Winkle said Johnson gave the Olympics considerable thought, and “as much as he would be honored to be an Olympian, the FedEx Cup playoffs are also very important to him, 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.”
The competition for the U.S. participants figures to be fierce. The top four in the rankings — as long as they are ranked among the top 15 in the world — are eligible at the cutoff date of June 22, which is following the U.S. Open.
At the moment, 10 U.S. players are ranked among the top 15 in the world, led by Brooks Koepka, who has said he is wavering on the decision. Justin Thomas, Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau are the players ranked among the top 15.
With the Players Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the Masters, PGA Championship and U.S. Open all to be played before the qualification date, there promises to be plenty of movement in the process.
Johnson is a 20-time PGA Tour winner who also captured the 2016 U.S. Open.