Bryson DeChambeau’s hopes of getting his season back on track with an Olympic medal cratered Sunday after he tested positive for Covid-19 before leaving the United States for Tokyo.
The 2020 US Open champion will be replaced by Patrick Reed.
USA Golf sent word on Sunday in Japan that DeChambeau, who won last year’s US Open at Winged Foot but has struggled through a drama-filled summer in 2021, had tested positive as part of the final protocol before leaving for Japan.
“I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA,” DeChambeau said in the statement. “Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honor to make this team.”
DeChambeau becomes the best-known of the few dozen athletes across the several Olympic sports to test positive either before leaving for Tokyo, or after they arrived. Last week, US tennis player Coco Gauff also tested positive before she left the United States.
Reed was scheduled to undergo testing Sunday and Monday to clear himself to compete in Tokyo. Then the first round of the men’s tournament at the Kasumigaseki Country Club is set for Thursday.
“I wish Bryson nothing but the best, and I know how disappointed he is to not be able to compete, and I will do my best to play my best and represent our country,” Reed said in the USA Golf statement.
Reed will join Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele on the four-man US team. Reed was third in line to be a replacement, behind Patrick Cantlay and Brooks Koepka.
Koepka had previously sounded unenthused about the prospect of playing in the Olympics, saying the sport’s four majors, plus the Ryder Cup and other big events, give players plenty to strive for. The Ryder Cup this year is set for Sept 24-26 at Whistling Straits.
Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, has been more gung-ho about the Olympics, and now, he is the only two-time Olympian on the men’s side of the sport, which was reintroduced to the programme in 2016. He shot 64 in the final round in Rio de Janeiro and finished 11th.
USA Golf executive director Andy Levinson said Reed’s willingness to quickly rush through Covid protocols and come to an unfamiliar course on no notice “really illustrates the importance of the Olympics and the value Patrick places on playing for Team USA and for his country.”
DeChambeau had been looking to write a new chapter to his theatric 2021 season. It has included months of sparring with Koepka, a sudden break with his longtime caddie, and, most recently, a spat with his club sponsor when he said his driver “sucks” after struggling at the British Open.
He finished 33rd at Royal St. George’s only a few weeks after playing himself into contention on Sunday at the US Open at Torrey Pines, only to shoot 44 on the back nine and finish in 26th place. DeChambeau didn’t crack the top 25 in any of this year’s majors, but does have one victory this year — in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
DeChambeau’s Covid surprise is the second to hit a major name in golf this year. Jon Rahm had built a six-shot lead after the third round of the Memorial last month when he was notified he had Covid as he was coming off the course. Two weeks later, Rahm won at Torrey Pines. The Spaniard comes into the Olympics ranked No 1.