Date: July 13, 2016
Author: Martin Blake, Royal Troon

Spieth’s Olympic decision pains him

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Jordan Spieth has launched a spirited defence of his decision to skip the Olympic Games.

Spieth, the world No. 2, is the most recent of the top-ranked players to withdraw from the golf tournament in Rio de Janeiro over health concerns.

The multiple major winner described it as "probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life at 22 years old. I can probably honestly say that. This was harder than trying to decide what university to go to. Whether to turn professional and leave school''.

The Texan was originally quoted as saying he was concerned about the Zika virus, but yesterday he said he had more general health concerns rather than merely the mosquito-borne virus. He said he did not expect all people to understand why he had done it.

"Why was it (the decision) so hard? Because I'm a huge believer in Olympic golf. I'm a huge believer in playing for your country, showing I absolutely look forward to Summer and Winter Olympics. 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.

The top four players on the world rankings have declined Rio but the likes of Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose have spoken out about how excited they are to play for Olympic gold for the first time.

On the women's side, there has only been one high-profile withdrawal, the South African Lee-Anne Pace.

Australia will be represented by Scott Hend, Marcus Fraser, Minjee Lee and Su Oh.