We knew Dustin Johnson wasn't going to Tokyo, and now other big names have followed suit. It's time for a shake-up, writes Alex Perry
Dustin Johnson told us last year he wasn’t going to go to the Olympic Games in Japan and it came as no surprise that he had decided he would still not be going to the postponed Olympic Games in Japan.
The World No 2 confirmed that the timings don’t work out for him, with the Games scheduled to be begin on July 29.
“It’s right in the middle of a big stretch of golf for me, so that was the reason I was waffling on it a little bit,” Johnson explained. “It’s a long way to travel, and I think the WGC is the week right after it, and the [Open] is a couple of weeks before.
“It’s a lot of travelling at a time where it’s important to feel like I’m focused playing on the PGA Tour.”
Other qualifiers joining DJ in declining invites include major champions Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen, as well as Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood.
Some players, meanwhile, are up for it. “I’m so excited,” said Collin Morikawa. “It’s going to be one of the best things of my life.
“To think back that I was an amateur two years ago, literally two years ago, and to be on this team and to be heading to Tokyo puts a smile on my face.”
But it hasn’t stopped questions once again being raised as to whether or not golf should be an Olympic sport.
It’s great that Morikawa feels that way. And it’s how all golfers should be. If you have some saying they’re really not bothered by the Olympics, then what is the point? If you’re not going up against the absolute best of the best then does that devalue the medal around your neck? Absolutely it does, but they won’t admit it.
Missing out on a major due to injury is one thing, but can you imagine DJ and Koepka saying they’re not really fussed about showing up at Augusta this year?
You can’t, because it wouldn’t happen.
They’ve schlepped to Saudi Arabia for the last three years for just about the most controversial tournament on the planet – all in the name of an easy pay day – but can’t be bothered to go to one of, if not the greatest sporting occasion on earth.
I have always been of the belief that if competing at the Games and winning a medal is not the pinnacle of your sport then it should not be an Olympic discipline.
Apropos of nothing, I bet they’ll all be up for the 2028 Games in LA…
So what’s the answer? Well, you make golf at the Olympics an amateur event.
Sure, watching those yet to make the step up to the professional ranks battling out for medals wouldn’t do much for the casual golf fan. But I can tell you now that I have absolutely zero interest in rowing, or handball, or dressage until you put medals on the line – then I’m willing the dancing British horse to dance better than the other countries’ dancing horses as if my life depended on it.
It would give the best up-and-coming players the chance to announce themselves on the world stage in a career-defining event and would make household names of those who are really only known to those of us who follow the sport closely.
The best golfers in the world couldn’t be bothered to show up in 2016 and I doubt much will change this time around. You might blame the fact the format was the same as it is week in week out on tour, but, as much as we want it to, golf on a professional level does not need the Olympics. And the Olympics doesn’t really need golf.
Consider this the start of my #OlympicGolf4Amateurs campaign.
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