Canada aiming for at least 19 medals in Rio

On the final day of practice before the British Open, two more golfers pulled out of the Olympics but major champions Danny Willett and Justin Rose remained on board. "Obviously with golf being an outdoor sport played around the water out there 20, 30 miles out from the city, you are probably at higher risk than most other athletes in most other sports who are in much more of a contained environment".

"We have to respect the individual decisions, even if they are going contrary to the recommendations given by the World Health Organization, if Zika is given as a reason", Bach said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press and two other global news agencies.

Spieth said reports he withdrew specifically because of concerns over the Zika virus were erroneous.

Facing the media for the first time since it was revealed he would skip the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Dallas native Jordan Spieth shared how he agonized while making up his mind. "You guys [reporters] have put that without me saying it".

But the Texan prodigy, who won the Masters and the US Open previous year, indicated that pulling out of Rio was the "hardest decision" he has ever made and said going to the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 remains a "significant goal". “I dont think it would be appropriate given our decision on the Olympics.

He said it was the toughest decision he had ever made, but he joined McIlroy in defending his right to act in what he perceived as his own best interests.

This was something I very much struggled with, I bounced back and forth with and, ultimately, a decision had to be made yesterday and so I made it. I thought about all this ahead of time.

"Not everybody's going to understand".

"I won't watch golf at Olympics", he says. It doesn't mean it won't be a great Games, people that go to Rio and have been training for four years to try to win an Olympic gold will give it their all, and good luck to them because it's a huge deal in their lives and careers. "That's the way I'd like to frame it this particular time around". "You're just going to be jealous when I get the gold". When I watch the opening ceremonies, that's going to be a big bummer.

The four-time major victor did not disappoint. "I don't think it was as hard a decision for me as it was for him", the Northern Irishman said. I don't feel like I've let the game down at all.

Or maybe you'd prefer: 'I didn't get into golf to try to grow the game, I got into it to win'.

"But I feel like with the things that I'm working on in my swing, hopefully that will get me to that point, and hopefully it's this week where I start to trust myself more with my swing, and I trust the shots that I'm trying to hit and trust that more times than not, I can pull them off". I love coming over and playing links golf as well. I didn't get into golf to get other people into the game.

Chuck Culpepper covers national college sports for the Washington Post.

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