INVERNESS, Scotland – Patrick Reed is looking forward to replacing Dustin Johnson on the U.S. Olympic golf team but left himself leeway to also pull out if he considers the risk too great.
Reed qualified for the Olympics after Johnson announced his decision not to play because of fears about the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne ailment linked to birth defects and with no known cure. Reed became the next player in line to join the U.S. team.
“I would love to play for my country,” he said. “Mathematically I think I’m a lock – I’m not 100-percent sure – but hopefully I can go out and wear the stars and stripes.”
Reed is definitely on the team to join Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson. However, Johnson’s news took Reed, a member of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team, by surprise when he was awakened early Saturday before the third round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
“My phone was blowing up at 3:30/4 a.m. this morning. I didn’t know what was going on. When the phone starts blowing up at that time of the hour, I’m kind of sitting there wondering, What’s going on at home? Did something happen?”
Reed was unequivocal on Wednesday about playing in Rio de Janeiro if Johnson, Spieth, Fowler or Watson were to withdraw. He said:
“If one of them happened to pull out, then I will definitely be playing. Any time I can wear stars and stripes, I do it. I get the call tomorrow, I’ll be on the flight. It doesn’t matter to me where it is, when it is. If I can play for my country, I’m going to play.”
He was slightly more circumspect after returning a 5-under 67 at Castle Stuart.
“This is all news to me. I haven’t sat in any of the meetings for Team USA. I haven’t had any contact with our team captain, so I’ll see where everything is, what we do with everybody, and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I can play.
“I wouldn’t really say I have doubts. It’s something I have to weigh and talk to (wife) Justine and talk to everybody about.
“As far as I know I’m going to go and play, but at the end of the day I need to go and talk to my family and my whole team and make sure it’s the right decision.”
He has until Monday morning to make up his mind.