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Published: 14:22 | 12/7/16

Spieth defends Olympic decision


Jordan Spieth has described his withdrawal from the Rio Olympics as “the toughest decision of my life”.

Spieth's decision to withdraw from the Olympics was announced on Monday shortly before the International Golf Federation confirmed the 60 eligible players for golf's return to the Games for the first time since 1904.

While some players have opted not to compete for scheduling reasons, the majority of players have withdrawn from the Olympics due to concerns over the Zika virus and Johnson's decision means that none of the top four players in the world will be in Brazil - Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson all previously confirmed their absence.

International Golf Federation president Peter Dawson has accused players of overreacting to the Zika virus, but Spieth has defended his decision.

“Listen, this was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life at 22 years old. I can honestly say that," Spieth told reporters ahead of The Open.

"This was harder than trying to decide what university to go to, whether to turn professional and leave school. This was something I very much struggled with. I bounced back and forth with, and ultimately a decision had to be made yesterday, and so I made it.

"I’m a huge believer in Olympic golf. I’m a huge believer in playing for your country. It’s the most exciting sporting event for me to watch on TV and to have a chance to be a part of it is something I definitely look forward to trying to do.

"This year I just had to try and weigh a risk that doesn’t present itself every year, and just at the time that I had to make the decision, I just felt this was the right move for me. Not everybody’s going to understand. Nobody’s going to understand what it’s like in my shoes.

"It came down to just a very personal decision that, again, I don’t expect anybody to understand, but trust that I believe I’m making the right decision for myself for my future and for those around me."

Critics have suggested that some players have used Zika as an excuse not to compete in Brazil and McIlroy has done little to ease the tension by claiming he will only watch the "sports that matter" during the Rio Olympics.

"I don’t feel like I’ve let the game down at all. I didn’t get into golf to try to grow the game, I tried to get into golf to win championships," McIlroy said.

"I’m very happy with the decision I’ve made, I have no regrets about it. I’ll probably watch the Olympics, but I’m not sure golf will be one of the events I’ll watch. I'll watch

track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters."

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