Bubba Watson watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Three-quarters of the U.S. Olympic men’s golf team is in Connecticut this week, playing in the final PGA Tour event before Rio de Janeiro.
Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar will go out as a trio on Thursday and Friday for the first two rounds of the Travelers Championship.
That means, unlike teammate Rickie Fowler, they will miss Friday’s opening ceremonies in Rio. They expect to fly out after Sunday’s final round, putting them in Brazil well before the Aug. 11 start of the Olympic golf competition.
All three say they will be trying to focus on this week’s tournament, but acknowledged that might not be easy to do. Much of their team U.S.A. gear was waiting for them when they arrived this week at the TPC River Highland course.
“I opened that up and was like a kid at Christmas, just showing every piece to everybody,” Reed said.
Reed and Kuchar made the Olympic team after two-time major champion Jordan Spieth and U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson opted not to go, citing health concerns including the Zika virus threat.
“I had my fingers crossed that some golfers would bypass the Olympics to be honest,” Kuchar said. “I had fingers crossed that they would so that I’d have a chance to accept.”
Watson and his wife, Angie, have two adopted children, but are unable to conceive. He said for that reason the virus was not a factor in deciding whether to travel to Brazil.
He said he prepared his schedule with the Olympics in mind, taking some time off earlier in the year to be fresh for what he knew would be a grueling stretch of golf.
— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) July 23, 2016
“Who cares if I finish dead last,” he said. “Just to be part of the Olympics is a big honor and a thrill.”
Besides the Americans, three other Olympians are playing in Cromwell _ Germany’s Alex Cejka, Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen, and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.