On the fence about the Olympics at the start of the year, Dustin Johnson decided he won’t be going.
Johnson’s manager said in a text message Monday that the FedEx Cup playoffs hold as much importance to Johnson as chasing a gold medal in Tokyo this summer.
“I feel certain he would choose otherwise if the timing were different, but feels he is making the best decision under the circumstances,” said David Winkle of Hambric Sports Management.
Johnson’s name was removed from the Olympic golf ranking Monday afternoon. At No. 5 in the world ranking, he currently would have been No. 3 among Americans behind Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas. Countries are allowed a maximum of four players in golf provided they are among the top 15 in the world ranking.
Golfweek first reported Johnson’s decision.
Johnson was the leading American for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro when he decided at the last minute to withdraw because of concerns over the Zika virus.
This was more about the FedEx Cup and the lucrative prize Johnson has yet to win. The top prize is now worth $15 million.
Asked about the Olympics at the beginning of the year, Johnson said he wasn’t sure how his schedule would be in the summer with the Tokyo Games coming after the final major and before the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“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,” Winkle said.
Johnson plans to play five out of seven weeks through the British Open. He then would have a week off before heading to Japan for the Olympics. Now, he is contemplating the 3M Open in Minnesota after returning from the British, and then two weeks off before the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Johnson nearly won the FedEx Cup in 2016 until he lost the 54-hole lead and lost the FedEx Cup when Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship and its then-$10 million prize. He has spent 91 weeks at No. 1 in the world, third only behind Tiger Woods and McIlroy among active players.
With just over three months before Olympic qualifying ends, the leading four Americans are Koepka, Thomas, Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson, following by Patrick Reed and Woods. There are still three majors, The Players Championship and a World Golf Championship — all offering big ranking points — before qualifying ends on June 21 after the U.S. Open.