Four of the top 10 men in the world golf ranking are not going to Japan for the Olympics, only one of them by choice.
The 60-man field was set on Tuesday based on the world ranking with a half-dozen late withdrawals, a list that included US Open runner-up Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Tyrrell Hatton of England and Sergio Garcia of Spain.
Dustin Johnson, the No.2 player in the world, had already said he would not be going because the Tokyo Olympics on July 29 through August 1 are crammed into an already busy golf schedule.
Even so, it was a strong turnaround from Rio de Janeiro when golf returned to the Olympic program for the first time in a century and the world's best stayed home.
Five years ago, with concerns over the Zika virus and security, men's golf was missing the top four players in the world who had combined to win six of the past eight majors.
The men's field still has four of the top five in the world ranking, and five of the past six major champions. That includes Hideki Matsuyama, the first Japanese player to win the Masters.
The women's field will be set next week.
Jon Rahm of Spain, who returned to No.1 in the world with his US Open victory, led the qualifiers. He was followed by four Americans – Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau.
RIGHT: Rahm topped the Olympic qualifiers, followed by four Americans. PHOTO: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.
Three other Americans – Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed – are among the top 10 in the world and didn't qualify. Countries can have up to four players provided they are among the top 15 in the world. Otherwise, the limit is two until the 60-man field is set.
Garcia, who tied for eighth in Rio Olympics, posted to social media on Monday that his priority to Spain on an international stage was the Ryder Cup. Garcia is six spots out of automatic qualifying for the Ryder Cup through world ranking points. His spot in the Olympics went to Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Oosthuizen, who flew from San Diego to Germany to compete on the European Tour, said on Twitter that he wanted to focus on a strong finish to the PGA Tour season and to honour family commitments. He is preparing for farm life after buying an 86-acre ranch in Ocala, Florida.
Garrick Higgo, the dynamic 22-year-old who won on the PGA Tour two weeks ago, represents South Africa along with Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood each turned down spots for Britain. Hatton is No.11 in the world and was the top qualifier. Fitzpatrick narrowly lost out on what would have been the second qualifying spot to Paul Casey at the US Open. Westwood had said earlier he was not planning to go.
That left Casey and Tommy Fleetwood from England to wave the Union Jack.
Adam Scott of Australia has been opposed to golf in the Olympics and was never planning to go. The Aussies will have Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman. Also withdrawing were Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and Martin Kaymer of Germany.
- Doug Ferguson, Australian Associated Press