Danny Lee has equalled his best result for the PGA Tour season with a share of 21st place at the Valspar Championship in Florida but has decided to make himself unavailable for the Tokyo Olympics to focus on retaining his PGA Tour card.
Lee recently lost the New Zealand number one ranking spot when Ryan Fox took over that place after two victories in a row at the Jennian Homes Charles Tour and the 30-year-old has struggled this season with today’s result only the sixth time Lee has completed all four rounds of a tournament since the season began in September.
The Kiwi, now based in the US, finished in a tie for 27th at the Rio Games but is currently ranked 192 in the PGA Tour rankings and needs to be at 125 or better by the end of August to retain his playing rights on the tour.
Speaking with RNZ Golf New Zealand CEO Dean Murphy said Lee made the tough decision to make himself unavailable for the Olympics.
“While Danny was very much looking forward to once again representing New Zealand and contesting for a medal in Tokyo, he has made the hard decision to focus his attention on retaining his playing rights on the PGA Tour for the 2021/2022 season,” Murphy explained to RNZ.
“Danny has always taken great pride in representing his country and looks forward to doing so again in the future.
“While he has one eye on the 2024 Games to be played at La National in Paris, France, his current focus will be to retain his playing rights and secure a 2021/2022 PGA Tour Card and representing New Zealand proudly on the world’s leading Tour.”
Lee’s decision to remove himself from Olympics selection leaves New Zealand with Fox as the only competitor for the event that begins at the end of July.
A field of 60 men will compete for the Olympic medals and in the last Olympics allocation on April 26 Fox was the only player from New Zealand allocated a place.
The top-15 world-ranked players are eligible, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players are eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.
Michael Hendry is the next highest-ranked Kiwi at 364, unlikely to be high enough to gain a place.
Lydia Ko will be the sole Women’s representative.