Spieth pulls out of Olympics over Zika worries

Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:45pm EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

TROON, Scotland (Reuters) - World number three Jordan Spieth has pulled out of next month's Olympics because of fears over the Zika virus, officials said at a news conference held at the British Open on Monday.

American Spieth's withdrawal means the Olympic golf tournament will be without the world's top four players.

Number one Jason Day, second-ranked Dustin Johnson and number four Rory McIlroy had all previously said they would not be competing in the event.

"It was out of concern at health issues we have been talking about (recently)," International Golf Federation (IGF) vice-president Ty Votaw told reporters at Royal Troon, referring to the reasons for Spieth's pull-out.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that the World Health Organisation says is spreading rapidly in the Americas.

IGF president Peter Dawson said it was disappointing to have received so many pull-outs from the men's tournament in Rio de Janeiro.

"There is no doubt the number of withdrawals hasn't shed golf in the best light," Dawson said. "But we do understand why these individual decisions have been taken.

"Personally I think there's been something of an over-reaction to the Zika situation... but we remain confident we'll stage two very exciting and compelling golf competitions in Rio.   Continued...

Jul 1, 2016; Akron, OH, USA;  Jordan Spieth of the United States tees off on the on the third hole during the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports