Golf world no. 2 Johnson skips Rio with Zika concerns

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[July 09, 2016]    (Reuters) - World number two Dustin Johnson has become the latest golfer to withdraw from next month's Rio Olympics due to fears over the Zika virus, the American announced on Friday.

Dustin Johnson of the United States hits a tee shot on the twelfth hole during the final round of the 2016 Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club - South Course. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 32-year-old joins world number one Jason Day, fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy and world number eight Adam Scott as top 10 golfers who have opted out of Rio.

"This was not an easy decision for me, but my concerns about the Zika Virus cannot be ignored," Johnson said in a statement.

"(Fiancée) Paulina and I plan to have more children in the near future, and I feel it would be irresponsible to put myself, her or our family at risk."

Johnson's exit is yet another blow to Olympic golf which has returned to the Games for the first time since 1904.

South Africans Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen along with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama have also declined to make the trip.

Johnson is currently the hottest golfer in the world, having won the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in his last two starts.

He is the first American to remove his name from consideration, though third-ranked Jordan Spieth has said he is "uncertain" about going.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that the World Health Organization says is spreading rapidly in the Americas.

Qualifying for the 60-man field ends on July 11.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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