Jordan Spieth cut a downcast figure in his Open Championship press conference as he labelled his decision to withdraw from the Olympics Games as his “hardest ever.”

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Spieth: Olympics withdrawal ‘hardest decision of my life’

Jordan Spieth cut a downcast figure in his Open Championship press conference as he labelled his decision to withdraw from the Olympics Games as his “hardest ever.”

The decision clearly weighed heavily on his shoulders, and the Texan spoke at length about his passion for golf in the Olympics and his love of representing his country in competition.

In a strange press conference, he was quick to correct a reporter who assumed his decision was due to the Zika virus, instead talking about general “health concerns.”

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However, he wouldn’t expand on his reasons for being apprehensive, and refused to divulge who had provided him with health information.

“This was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life at 22 years old. I can honestly say that. This was harder than trying to decide what university to go to, whether to turn professional and leave school. This was something I very much struggled with,” he said.

“I’m a huge believer in Olympic golf. I’m a huge believer in playing for your country.

“This year I just had to try and weigh a risk that doesn’t present itself every year, and just at the time that I had to make the decision, I just felt this was the right move for me. Not everybody’s going to understand. Nobody’s going to understand what it’s like in my shoes.

“I feel that many, if not all of you, would have made the same decision I made if you were in my shoes. Whether you believe it or not, so be it.”

Spieth said he wasn’t able to make a decision until the last minute and was constantly changing his mind until yesterday’s final deadline.

Having witnessed the press conference, seen Spieth talk so effusively about golf in the Olympics and observed his body language, I’m certainly not cynical about any of his comments.

However, his rhetoric simply doesn’t match his ultimate decision, and that’s the tricky thing to compute. To me, it seemed as if something was/is going on behind the scenes, and that he wasn’t able to be completely truthful with reporters. His reasons were specific yet puzzlingly vague.

He also spoke of a text message exchange with Rickie Fowler, in which the Californian sympathised with Spieth’s decision but said “you’ll be jealous when I get that gold medal.”

“This is going to be a very, very difficult thing for me to do to watch the opening ceremonies and watch my peers compete for a gold medal or any medal for that, and watch people stand on the stage and hear the National Anthem playing,” he added.

“I certainly have thought about all that and it’s something I’ve looked forward to since 2009 when it was announced. But I’ll make it a very, very big goal to be at Tokyo in 2020.

“I will continue to carry the decision with me through these Games and for a while, I think, personally. It’s that tough. It will loom over me throughout the Olympic Games, for sure. I will be, I’m sure at times, pretty upset that I’m not down there.”