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    January 11, 2019 11:02 PM PST

    TROON, Scotland -- Citing health concerns -- but not specifically the Zika virus -- Jordan Spieth on Tuesday said it was probably the hardest decision Ive had to make in my life when he decided to withdraw from the Olympic golf tournament. Vapormax For Sale .For months, Spieth, 22, had professed his desire to represent the United States and participate in golfs return to the Games after 104 years. He had even been featured in advertisements for the Aug. 11-14 event in Brazil.But like many of his peers, Spieth on Monday said he wont be making the trip and also said he would not defend his title at the John Deere Classic -- a PGA Tour event that is being played the same week.This was harder than trying to decide what university to go to, Spieth said Tuesday during a news conference at Royal Troon, where the 145th Open begins Thursday. Whether to turn professional and leave school. This was something I very much struggled with. I bounced back and forth with, and ultimately a decision had to be made yesterday, and so I made it.Why was it so hard?Because Im a huge believer in Olympic golf, he said. Im a huge believer in playing for your country, showing I absolutely look forward to Summer and Winter Olympics. Its the most exciting sporting event for me to watch on TV, and to have a chance to be a part of it is something I definitely look forward to trying to do.Spieth said that although he doesnt expect anyone to understand his decision, he believes its the right one.Unfortunately, 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 [matter], and watch people stand on the stage and hear the national anthem playing.Spieth said hes looked forward to Olympic golf since 2009, when its return to the Olympics was announced. He said hell make it a significant goal to be at Tokyo in 2020.?Spieth would not specifically cite Zika as the reason for his withdrawal. He said reportssuggesting that he is doing so for just that reason are false. Rio has been plagued with health and security issues, and those factors undoubtedly weighed in his decision, although he would not discuss them specifically.Ranked third in the world and basically the face of American golf after winning two major championships and the PGA Tours FedEx Cup title in 2015, Spieth was viewed as an excellent ambassador for golfs re-entry into the Olympics.But he joined the other top-four players in the world -- Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy -- in electing to stay home.During a 30-minute news conference, Spieth fielded 22 questions, 13 of which were about the Olympics -- even though The Open is set to begin in two days.I can understand why people are skeptical, he said. Theyre as passionate about the Olympics, as I am. They also are not in my shoes. So 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. This is just something that was very, very challenging for me. I very much struggled with it. I certainly didnt want to have to do this during major week. Obviously, would have rather had the focus be on the Open Championship, but it hasnt been the beginning of this week. Hopefully it will after I leave this room.Peter Dawson, the former head of the R&A and the current president of the International Golf Federation, on Monday said he thought the Zika threat had been overblown,?as?few athletes from other sports have withdrawn because of it.It very well could be, Spieth said. Im not sure.A year ago, Spieth won the John Deere Classic, then flew to St. Andrews attempting to make history by winning the first three majors in the same year. He came up one shot short of a playoff won by Zach Johnson.This year, the Deere tournament was moved to the same week as the Olympics, but Spieth said he wont be defending his title.I dont think thats appropriate, he said. I dont think it would be an appropriate move to play that week. So I will not be playing that week. I dont think it would be appropriate given our decision on the Olympics.But I do look forward to going back there. I love the tournament. I love the people. I obviously played it well. Cheap Nike Vapormax China . The formidable trio of Canadian receivers -- individually known as Chris Getzlaf, Rob Bagg and Andy Fantuz -- will share the field at Mosaic Stadium one more time on Sunday. Cheap Nike Vapormax Sale . - Oakland Raiders running back Rashad Jennings was speaking to a group of local high school students earlier this week when the conversation turned to the importance of being prepared when opportunities in life arise. .J. -- New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on his left knee. Its been 38 years since Formula One had an American race winner or world champion. Jimmy Carter was president, Tom Landrys Dallas Cowboys were Super Bowl champions and Pete Rose had just recorded his 3,000th major league hit.The driver who claimed both was Mario Andretti, winning the 1978 world championship with the iconic Lotus 79. He became the second American after Phil Hill to claim the F1 title, though his triumph -- and final victory at that years Dutch Grand Prix -- precipitated a nearly four-decade long drought for drivers from his country.There are several tragic parallels between Andretti and Hills championships. Both men wrapped up their championships at Monza after their teammates suffered fatal accidents. For Andretti, the loss of Ronnie Peterson has always left a cloud over his finest achievement.Of course, its bittersweet, Andretti tells ESPN about the memory of 1978. It could have been the happiest day of my career but I couldnt celebrate, I lost a friend and teammate, one of the best teammates I ever had.That day in Italy should have been the realisation of a lifes ambition at the place the dream began 24 years earlier. As a youngster living in Italy, Andretti had become transfixed on motorsport in 1954 after he and his brother Aldo watched Alberto Ascari beat Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1954 Italian Grand Prix, just months before his family journeyed the Atlantic for a new life in the United States.Andretti arrived in America dreaming of being Dan Gurney in a Ferrari. But in America, all paths led elsewhere. In his new country Andretti split duties between midget racing, NASCAR and national championship racing, making part-time appearances in F1 between 1968 and 1972. He claimed pole on his F1 debut, the 1968 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.Lets put it this way, Andretti says. If that had been happening today I would have got a lot more attention than back in the 70s. We had a press following and there was a certain appreciation but no-one really, but no-one realised what I was really going through and how I was mixing up the disciplines. At the beginning of the 70s I was going from a dirt track to a Formula One, doing that and Monza in the same weekend!If Id been doing that today I would have got a bit more appreciation for what I was doing! I always had such tremendous passion for all of it, but Formula One was always in the back of my mind and a very strong goal for me because thats where it all started in my mind. I was just very thankful that I was at least satisfy that part of my career, even though I started a little bit late on a full-time basis. I consider that time in F1 very precious.Though the sanctioning bodies have now changed, Andretti thinks the mindset in North American racing has remained the same.Here in the U.S. you have two major disciplines, IndyCar and NASCAR, where a driver can have a full career and be satisfied pretty much by staying here. You probably dont need a passport! Its probably the only country on the planet that has disciplines that are that strong as far as their own country.The dream across the board globally for a racing driver is to be a Formula One driver. I dont think thats necessarily the case here. The few that have that ambition I think are being totally overlooked by the Formula One contingent. Its always been particularly difficult to break through that.I look back at my case, my passion for the sport began when I was first living in Italy: It was Formula One, Formula One, Formula One for me. When I came here I started racing locally and built a reputation, but my idea was still to somehow get my career to Formula One.I had that passion that was with me from the beginning, so even in Formula One I had opportunities early on in my career but things were going so well for me here that I could just abandon it. Especially because even in those days, financially Formula One was not very rewarding. That was my case.Before committing to F1 full time midway through the 70s, Andretti claimed the Daytona 500 (1967) and Indy 500 (1969). He remains the only man to win those two events and the F1 world championship. Having grown restless at switching disciplines, Andretti finally completed a full season of F1 with American outfit Parnelli in 1975. He then accepted an offer to drive for Colin Chapmans Lotus team when Parnelli folded early in 1976, a successful partnership that would eventually lead to a world championship.Though he saw many of his American counterparts stay home to race nationally, he is still baffled by the limited amount of home-grown drivers who enjoyed major success in the pinnacle of motor racing.Im only the second guy to come away with a championship, yet look how much racing America has to offer. But only two of us have done it. I think Dan Gurney, if he hadnt been playing around with his own cars and maybe gone to a Lotus or a more established team he would have been a champion.But theres only two of us and Im the only one standing, which seems odd for a country that has so much to offer here, but thats the case.After Andretti, success for American drivers in F1 was hard to come by. Eddie Cheever, who debuted in 1978, failed to win a race in 132 attempts between then and 1989. Nine years later, Cheever would win the Indy 500 back in America.The next great hope was another Andretti: Marios son Michael, CART champion two years prior, joined McLaren in 1993. His name and success across the pond meant instant success was expected at a team which had dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s. But it was a team in decline. The iconic red and white livery remained but the Honda engines did not, having been replaced by Ford.He also joined in a year of dramatic testing restrictions limiting drivers to 23 laps in the mornings session and 12 before qualifying. Coming from IndyCar, Michael had no experience of concepts such as active suspension and traction control, meaning he struggled to master the McLaren MP4/8. On top of all that, Michael was paired alongside Ayrton Senna, widely considered F1s greatest ever driver, while McLaren had also signed Mika Hakkinen to a test role with a view to a future drive.His father is convinced F1 never saw anything close to the best of Michael Andretti.When asked if his sons struggles strengthened the negative perception of the calibre of IndyCar in the F1 paddock, Andretti said: Yeah, that plays. In Michaels situation I know -- and not just because hes my son -- the quality of his driving. He only did one season and the rules went against him because you could only do so many laps, it was a total of like 23 laps, counting the in and outs, and no testing allowed on any of the circuits they raced on.So all of that played against him, but he showed some moments of brilliance. He made some mistakes, of course, because he was used to winning and was trying to force things. But overall, part of it was that he was not patient enough. He was used to winning here and he thought Im not going to waste my time, they dont appreciate what I can do, so he just abandoned it. The true story was never really told on what happened to him. But the perception was that he was not capable of getting it done.That perception was not helped by what was happening across the Atlantic, where reigning Formula One champion Nigel Mansell, axed by Williams after his title-winning year, went and won the CART crown at the first attempt. Michael did not even make it to the end of the 1993 F1 season, parting ways with McLaren after his solitary podium at the Italian Grand Prix. It would be his last F1 race.Andretti is certain Michaels 1993 struggles had a negative impact on the chances of Americans making the grid in the future.Even his podium at Monza, nobody did as much overtaking as he did! So it was things like that [people didnt appreciate]. But a lot of this perception is plain, and a lot of the drivers who were there after myself, they were not as successful so they say oh, Americans cant cut it there. I beg to differ -- they can if given the proper opportunity.Two CART drivers who would be given that opportunity to show what they could do in a competitive car in the following years were Canadas Jacques Villeneuve and Colombias Juan Pablo Montoya. Villeneuve joined the dominant Williams team in 1996, winning the title the following year, while Montoya joined the saame team at the start of its resurgence in the early 2000s. Cheap Vapormax Free Shipping. ichael very nearly got that second opportunity. Having returned to CART in 1994, he soon had an offer to return to F1 with his fathers former team Ferrari. It was a Ferrari team on the cusp of the most dominant era of Formula One ever.He went back with Chip Ganassi, but then when he went to Newman-Haas [in 1995] he was still thinking of finishing in up in Formula One. I went there with his manager to Ferrari and they were ready to do a deal with him [for 1996].I told Michael dont sign more than a one year deal with Haas. He signed three years with the understanding they might release him [after one] if he had the opportunity, but they didnt. So that ended any possibility for Michael to do Formula One again but it could have changed everything for him.Instead, America would have to wait until 2006 for the next time it was on the F1 grid. The driver was Scott Speed, then in his early twenties and a product of Red Bulls American talent search in the early 2000s. Having been discovered by Red Bull, a teenage Speed moved to Austria and competed in various series in Europe, including the inaugural GP2 championship in 2005. After finishing third behind champion Nico Rosberg and and Heikki Kovalainen, Speed was promoted to Red Bulls junior team Toro Rosso.Despite high expectations, Speed struggled to make an impact with and now admits the complexity of the sport, and the difficulty in making an impression at a backmarking team, caught him by surprise.I had no idea when I got to Formula One just how technical it would be, Speed tells ESPN. Its hard for the driver to have too much impact on the result when you get further down the grid. If youre in a car that can finish 12th or 13th, you might finish 11th if you do a really good job or 14th if you do a bad one. But whatever you do -- youve still finished outside the top 10! In other series it isnt like that. That makes it difficult to ultimately make a good impression and get a top drive.The sheer scale of the technology in Formula One is incredible. IndyCar is a lot easier to drive, in the sense that the cars are similar and the level of competition is so good. But compare those cars to Formula One, its like kindergarten and college. F1 is a world championship not just between drivers but between engineers. So if you dont get a top drive, youre unlikely to be successful and winning races. I didnt truly appreciate that until I got to Formula One.Speed was ultimately dropped for Sebastian Vettel, who went on to become the most successful driver of the modern era. Speeds departure turned out to be the first part of a double-whammy, as America lost its only driver and only race (the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis) by the end of 2007.Andretti has seen how the failures of the Americans who followed him have had a negative impact on the F1 paddocks willingness to look across the pond for new talent. He remembers one conversation in particular with Helmut Marko, Red Bulls motorsport advisor and overseer of the driver programme, which brought Speed into F1.Im always speaking in Formula One with certain individuals, Andretti says. Like Helmut Marko, for instance, he was asking me if there are any talents in America, let me know. I once mentioned him a couple of names and he just sneered at it, and I said why?So they already have their mind made up on certain people who need to be given the opportunity. To them the ones who have been in havent shown what they should have shown, but they couldnt because of the teams they are in. So its a Catch-22.With the biggest F1 teams not looking at American talent, Andretti hopes 2016 debutants Haas -- run by Gene Haas and run out of Kannapolis, North Carolina -- pick up the torch and help create a pathway for young drivers in the States.The new American team... I would hope they would look at an American talent. There are a few who could be measured up in their roster. Then they can see if they can cultivate something for an American driver because that would do wonders for exposure over here.In 2015, it looked like F1 had suddenly found that perfect American team-driver combination. With Haas arrival on the horizon, American driver Alexander Rossi made five appearances in the final seven races of the season for Manor. Rossis arrival on the grid was significant -- no American had driven in the sport since Speeds departure in 2007, and the sport now had an American team set to join the grid.Like Speed, Rossis journey to F1 can be traced back to the fact he moved to Europe at a young age. Rossi grew up idolising Mika Hakkinen and dreaming of being Americas next Formula One champion rather than following IndyCar or NASCAR too closely. Perhaps in part due to the scepticism Andretti encountered with the likes of Marko, his wait for F1 was long, and his opportunity short. Haas overlooked the apparent natural fit for their maiden F1 season and Rossi -- who won the Indy 500 as a rookie this year -- now seems poised for a successful career in North America.Rossi thinks the cost of an American making it into F1 is too great for some to consider with the existence of series such as IndyCar and NASCAR on young drivers doorsteps.I think the reason of it is you have to commit to it at a young age, Rossi explained to ESPN. A lot of teenagers and families, for that matter, are not willing to go over to Europe, for understandable reasons. Americas not a bad place. You can have a racing career in America and not uproot your whole life.Thats the only reason, its got nothing to do with American drivers not being able to be competitive or not having what it takes. You just cant go from the junior championships to America and be successful in Europe. You have to start in Europe as a kid and prove yourself over there.Though he is convinced an American driver could cut it in Europe, he admits the quality of championships on that side of the Atlantic are greater than the ones he left behind.When it was put to Rossi that its hard to see the structure of junior racing changing in North America and Europe any time soon, he replied: Yeah, exactly. And it is true the junior championships in Europe are more competitive than the ones in America, without a doubt. Youll always see guys that are successful in the junior series in Europe and do a pretty good job in IndyCar. Going the other direction isnt always a guarantee for success.I think that speaks to the level of European racing and how competitive it is. I owe a huge part of my success in IndyCar this year to how hard Europe is and how quickly you have to adapt and how much on top of your game you have to be on a regular basis.The loss of Rossi from the grid also came before this years takeover of American media giants Liberty, who have promised a radical evolution of the sport in the coming years. There has been talk of a second race in the U.S. to capitalise on the popularity of the COTA event, while Libertys approach to broadcasting and social media promises to open the sport up to a new generation of fan base.While Andretti accepts more American races are something of a moot point without a competitive American on the grid, he thinks the recent changes to Formula Ones governance can only mean good things for his adopted country.The country is big enough that it could easily host two races, Andretti says. Absolutely. That would really reinforce the fan base -- the more the merrier. I would love to see that and I think it would be a step forward. I think Liberty now being part of it, they will want to grow it or start making some effort to grow it in the US as well.Im sure its a company that wants to make a difference, wants to improve and make it more appealing, thats their business. They arent investing millions of dollars to maintain the status quo....As for the chances of finding that driver, Andretti thinks the only chance might well be someone taking a risk on a Rossi or another successful IndyCar driver.Its a strange situation, really. Something will have to break through, again, to establish some kind of credibility with the drivers who compete in IndyCar. 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