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Three contenders for this year’s golf gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics have withdrawn from the competition.

Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton and Louis Oosthuizen all announced via Twitter that they would not be taking part in next month’s games, which is set to be held from July 29 to August 1 at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

“I have made one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” said the former Masters champ in a post on social media.. “I love the Olympic Games and it is always an honour to represent Spain, however my No.1 sporting priority is in the Ryder Cup at this moment.

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“Everyone knows what the Ryder Cup means to me. My No.1 objective is 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.”

As it stands, Garcia will be replaced by Rafa Cabrera Bello for Spain, with Jon Rahm the other play making up the team.

For Team GB, 29-year-old Hatton’s withdrawal opens the door for Tommy Fleetwood to come into the fold. He will be joined by current world No.20 Paul Casey.

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“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 GB all the best this summer along with every athletes competing in the games.”

Elsewhere, as 38-year-old South African Oosthuizen has decided to pull out of attending the summer tournament, it means a spot for young sensation Garrick Higgo. Higgo will join Christiaan Bezuidenhout as South Africa’s golf contingent at the Games.

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“It’s going to be awesome. Anytime I can represent South Africa is an honour,” Higgo told reporters at this week’s Travelers Championship.

“It’s going to be awesome playing with Christiaan, we play well together. It’s just going to be a massive honour and hopefully, we can get a gold – it’ll mean a lot to the country and similar to the Rugby World Cup in 2019.”

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