Olympic golf: Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson are soaking in the Rio experience

By Doug Ferguson
Published on
Olympic golf: Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson are soaking in the Rio experience

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler planned to be roommates in Rio for the Olympics, right up until the final day to commit and Spieth decided to withdraw. He texted Fowler to apologize, and Fowler responded with a playful message, "You're just going to be jealous when I get that gold."

Fowler isn't waiting for golf to start to make good on his word.

He was the first of the four Americans to arrive in Rio, taking part in the opening ceremony. He has been hanging with other athletes at the Olympic village, including the divers. He tweeted a photo of meeting Jamaican diver Yona Knight-Wisdom . He was headed to swimming on Tuesday night.

And apparently there are plenty of texts back home.

"As far as making guys jealous back home or wherever they might be, I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job of it, and there may be some personal messages that have been sent back and forth that I was definitely showing them that we're having a good time down here," Fowler said.

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Fowler got a new roommate when Bubba Watson moved in with him. They were the two Americans who would have qualified no matter who withdrew for whatever reason. Patrick Reed got in for Dustin Johnson, and Kuchar replaced Spieth.

Johnson cited the Zika virus and his plans for more children. Spieth was less specific, though he was emphatic that Zika was not the sole reason.

Either way, the replacements were having a blast.

"I had secretly fingers-crossed hoping players would pull out," Kuchar said, the most unlikely of Olympians.

Countries are allowed a maximum of four players provided they were in the top 15 by July 11. In his final event, on his final hole, Kuchar made a 12-foot birdie to earn just enough points to hold down No. 15. And here is, touring Rio with his wife, going to table tennis on Monday night.

"It's one of those things, as a fan of sport, it's kind of a boyhood dream," Kuchar said. "If it wasn't golf, just something. What could you do to be an Olympic athlete? And to be here now, it's quite amazing."

Good question. If not for golf, what kind of Olympian would he like to be?

"I'm a huge fan of all racket games," said Kuchar, who won a consolation title in 2009 in the USTA National Husband-Wife Doubles Championship with wife Sybi, who played tennis at Georgia Tech. "It would be a hard one to pick. I'd say either full decathlon or modern pentathlon."

Kuchar, Reed and Watson all arrived Monday after playing The Travelers Championship in Connecticut, but they were making up for lost time by taking it all in.

Bubba's choice?

"I'm trying to go watch Denmark play handball," he said. His agent is Danish.

Reed said he looked forward to when his daughter was old enough to realize he was an Olympian. He has watched the Olympics and said every sport, no matter what it is, features the best in the world.

Reed doesn't begrudge the two Americans who chose not to play, or any of the other top players such as Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.

"There were some reasons on why some of the guys felt it was necessary for them not to be here," Reed said. "But when it comes down to me, any time I can put on the red, white and blue ... I'm going to hop on the first flight I can."

Fowler said he has seen a couple of mosquitoes but "nothing crazy." He feels secure in his travels around Rio. He said some of the athletes he has met have asked about those who didn't come, but he didn't describe it as disappointment.

"I have had a very warm welcome from fellow U.S. athletes and other athletes around the village, almost thanking me for being here," Fowler said. "It's a really cool feeling to see them, and them kind of reaching out. They in a way appreciate we wanted to make the trip down and wanted to represent our country. So it gives you a little bit more appreciation for what the Olympics is."

And it gives him a little more ammunition for his texts.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.