Spieth and other top PGA Tour players given invites, but compressed tour schedule clouds their participation in Rio.
For the first time since 1904, golf is set to make its return to the Olympic Games, and the PGA Tour wants its players to make the first tee-offs at the brand new course in Rio de Janeiro.
However, the tour is facing a tough challenge of assembling some of the top golfers with the heavily crowded schedule in this year’s calendar.
Organizers of the Rio Olympics have earmarked March 8 as the one-day event, and it has contacted a number of the world’s top-caliber players for a chartered flight to and from Brazil just to go for one round on the course.
Should the event push through as scheduled, it will count as part of the requirement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have test events at each venue prior to the games this August.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said to the Associated Press that some players have sent feelers – but not signed on – to take part in the event.
“We’ve got a good list of players who are, quote, interested in coming, but we don’t have a long list of players who are committed to coming. That’s the case with the guys who are currently playing on the PGA Tour, just because of the schedule, looking ahead to the summer, seeing the compaction. So I don’t know,” Finchem said.
Among those approached by Finchem and the PGA Tour included British Open champion Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth.
However, Johnson had to decline due to prior commitments, while both Walker and Fowler decided against traveling to Rio especially with the Masters in Augusta, Georgia coming up by the time the test event rolls on.
Spieth – the reigning U.S. Open and Masters Champion – had to decline due to his title defense at the Valspar Championship in Innisbrook, said agent Jay Danzi in the report by the Associated Press.
Nevertheless, Finchem does not want to just get the event over with, but find out what needs to be adjusted on the course before the tournament unwraps on August 11.
“We want to get some good players on there so if there are things we’re not seeing … you know as well I do, we build these golf courses and ‘Oh, it’s great.’ And then you get the best players in the world on there and we’ve got 10 problems. They see things you didn’t notice. So we want to get that done,” Finchem added.
The Rio Olympics will feature the top 50 in both the men’s and women’s division, with the provision that each country will be represented by two from each participating country.