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Spieth backs out of Rio

TROON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Top male golfers have done the image of their sport a disservice in withdrawing en masse from the Olympics over the Zika virus, federation chief Peter Dawson said on Monday.

American two-time major winner Jordan Spieth became the latest star to withdraw on Monday – meaning the top four in the world would not be in Rio – as the final list of 60 was unveiled by Dawson at Royal Troon, hosts to this week’s British Open.

“Speaking collectively there is no doubt that the number of withdrawals hasn’t shed golf in the best light,’’ said Dawson, International Golf Federation (IGF) president.

“He (Spieth) called up earlier today just before this press conference, and he’s going to be addressing his reasons for choosing not to participate tomorrow,’’ said Dawson.

IGF executive director Anthony Scanlon said the withdrawal of 17 of the game’s leading male players – including world top four Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Spieth and Rory McIlroy – could impact on golf becoming a permanent fixture at the Olympics post the 2020 Games in Tokyo.