Villegas pulls out of Olympics, cites PGA Tour card, Zika
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) Camilo Villegas is torn between trying to keep his PGA Tour card and playing for Colombia in the Olympics.
Villegas said in a statement Wednesday that whatever decision he makes will also consider the Zika virus because he and his wife are trying to start a family. The first decision was whether going to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics could cost him full privileges on the PGA Tour next season.
''There are circumstances which are out of our control,'' Villegas said. ''And right now, I face two situations that force me to consider the facts that could prevent me from being in the games, even though I want to play.
''God willing, I can resolve both situations quickly and I can go to the games with the Colombia flag.''
Villegas is No. 141 in the FedEx Cup standings with five tournaments left to get into the top 125 and qualify for the playoffs. Only the top 125 have full tour status for the following season.
When the Colombian first talked about his dilemma last week at the Barracuda Championship, he was near the top of the leaderboard after the first round and hopeful a good week would move him up in the FedEx Cup standings. He ended the week in a tie for 44th.
His statement came one day after Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe said he would pass up his spot in the Olympics because he first needs to make sure he has a full job for next season. De Jonge is at No. 160.
Twelve eligible players already have withdrawn from the Olympics, which has golf on the program for the first time since 1904. That list includes world No. 1 Jason Day and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, both citing concerns over the Zika virus. Day plans to have more children and McIlroy wants to start a family soon.
While the Zika virus and concerns over security and crime get most of the attention, de Jonge and potentially Villegas have exposed another side to the problem with golf returning to the Olympics. Because the PGA Tour chose to keep its schedule going during the games, some players lower in the standings have to choose between playing for their country and playing for their jobs.
Villegas has won four times on the PGA Tour, most recently at the Wyndham Championship two years ago. His two-year exemption for that victory expires this year.
''I've always wanted to represent my country and the highest level, and I've always done so with love,'' Villegas said. ''I always have our flag on my golf bag and do so with pride - the same pride I feel for being Colombian.''
Villegas played in the 2009 Presidents Cup in San Francisco, and he twice has represented Colombia in the World Cup, in 2006 and 2011.