World No.1 Dustin Johnson has come in for criticism after revealing his intention to skip this summer's Olympic Games.
The reigning Masters champion has decided to pass on the chance of adding a gold medal to his resumé in Tokyo this summer, revealing that it doesn’t fit in his schedule.
The Olympic men’s golf competition is scheduled to take place at Kasumigaseki CC from July 29 to August 1, sandwiched between the Open Championship at Royal St George’s and WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis. The lucrative, end-of-season FedEx Cup Playoffs follow soon thereafter.
“It's a lot of traveling at a time where it's important for me to feel like I'm focused playing on the PGA Tour,” said Johnson.
That decision has been met with incredulity by many within the game, not least the 2018 European Ryder Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjorn.
The Dne tweeted: "So here we go again. The world's best player says no to playing in the Olympics. Every athlete has that right and with the way the golfing schedule is, it is understandable. I have 100% respect for that. Majors, FedEx Cup, Ryder Cup, there are plenty of things to focus on.
"I grew up and played my best when golf wasn’t a in the Olympics and I look at it now wishing it had been. I would today have been a 3-5 time Olympian and would have backed myself to win a medal. What a thrill that must be. To represent my country that way would be an honour."
He added: "Saying that I might not have won a medal but so what? I would have taken part in the greatest sporting spectacle. I would have some unbelievable memories. I speak to players that took part and they all agree that it was an exceptional experience. Win or lose.
"My advice to young golfers is. If you are ever good enough there is two things you should do. Never miss your national open and play in The Olympics. When you get older you realise what you have missed out on."
Former PGA Tour pro and Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee was even more scathing.
Anyone who finds the time to play in Saudi Arabia for an appearance fee should be able to find the time to play in the Olympics for their country. https://t.co/3GgXkQ3r9t— Brandel Chamblee (@chambleebrandel) March 14, 2021
Golf returned to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 after an absence of more than a century.
Team GB’s Justin Rose won the men’s gold medal, with Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar taking home silver and bronze respectively.
Mark Fulcher, who caddied for Rose in the Games, also tweeted his surprise at Johnson's decision.
Obviously you know how feel ... the most amazing week of my caddying life ... loved being able to watch @JustinRose99 bring home 🥇 for @TeamGB .... personally I don’t understand why anyone would not want to represent their country @Olympics ... but maybe it’s not for everyone 🤔 https://t.co/OjvwX1mHdY— Dick fulchers lad (@Fooch1993) March 14, 2021