Former OSU golfer Rickie Fowler is set to take the course at Scotland’s Royal Troon for the British Open, but lately he’s been making headlines for what he’ll be doing for the United States. Fowler announced this week he’ll be taking part in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, despite the recent trend from other top golfers to drop out of the event.
Looking forward to wearing some red white and blue in Rio @olympics ???? pic.twitter.com/8bpr5d9iL4— Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowler) July 10, 2016
Looking forward to wearing some red white and blue in Rio @olympics ???? pic.twitter.com/8bpr5d9iL4
The top four players in the world – Jason Day, Jordan Speith, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson—have all decided not to participate in the Olympics, and more than one of those golfers have expressed concern over the Zika virus that has many Olympic athletes worried.
Fowler, who’s the world’s No. 7 ranked player, is concerned about the virus, but doesn’t want that to keep him from a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I’m excited. It’ll be pretty special to be an Olympic athlete and get to walk in the opening ceremony and be part of the whole thing,” Fowler told Press Association Sport. “I can definitely understand why players have pulled out. It wasn’t an easy decision for me. I wanted to make sure I did my homework and knew the risks and that I felt comfortable with going down.
“Whether it’s on the security side or health issues or even our schedule through the summer, I definitely understand why they are not going.
“That being said, I felt for me it was going to be a great experience and possibly once in a lifetime. It’s potential golf won’t be in the Olympics very long. We’ll see after this one where it may go.”
Rickie Fowler to Jordan Spieth via text: "You're just going to be jealous when I get that gold."— Alex Myers (@AlexMyers3) July 12, 2016
Rickie Fowler to Jordan Spieth via text: "You're just going to be jealous when I get that gold."
Fowler’s comments about golf as an Olympic sport comes one day after McIlroy made some controversial comments about just that. When asked which sports he’d watch, McIlroy subtly made sure people knew how he felt about the event.
“Probably the events like track and field, swimming, diving – the stuff that matters,” McIlroy told reporters.
Rory McIlroy on skipping Olympics: "I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game. I got into golf to win championships and win majors."— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN) July 12, 2016
Rory McIlroy on skipping Olympics: "I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game. I got into golf to win championships and win majors."
Fowler, who’s good friends with McIlroy, was equipped with a response to his comments.
“Maybe I’ll cause enough of a stir that Rory’ll turn it back over to golf at some point,” Fowler said.
Perhaps a repeat of this haircut before you head to Rio, @RickieFowler? #TeamUSA ???? pic.twitter.com/IjOxqguj4g— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) July 10, 2016
Perhaps a repeat of this haircut before you head to Rio, @RickieFowler? #TeamUSA ???? pic.twitter.com/IjOxqguj4g
Despite a few players dropping out, the US will still field a solid team in Rio. Fowler will be joined by Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar.
The Olympics will begin on August 5, but for now, Fowler will be focused on winning his first major of his career at Royal Troon. Fowler is set to tee off at 3:25 a.m. and will be grouped with Jason Day and Danny Willett.