Hole in one for English Rose gets golf’s Olympic return off to a dramatic start
Great Britain's Justin Rose celebrated golf's return to the Olympic programme at Rio 2016, after more than century’s absence, in spectacular style on 11 August, by conjuring a “hole in one”.
The 2013 US Open champion watched his tee shot, at the par three fourth hole of his opening round, land in front of the cup and slowly roll right into the hole. When the ball disappeared Rose broke into a wide smile, raised both hands into the air and high-fived everyone around him.
Having written his name into the record books with his ace, Rose put himself in the thick of the gold medal hunt by carding a four-under 67 in difficult gusting conditions to finish four strokes behind first-round leader Marcus Fraser of Australia, who produced some superb golf on the Gil Hanse designed course carved into the Marapendi Nature Reserve. The 38-year-old produced nine birdies with a single bogey for a course record eight-under 63.
“(The Olympics take place) once every four years, I just think it is so unique and something I'm all for," enthused Rose. "This is great competition, you just have to look around at the scale of the whole Olympic Games and what a big deal it is. This is competition at the highest level and that's what I live for."
Marcus Fraser of Australia, who produced some superb golf on the Gil Hanse designed course carved into the Marapendi Nature Reserve. The 38-year-old produced nine birdies with a single bogey for an Olympic course record eight-under 63.
“Very rarely do you get to represent your country," said Fraser, who plays primarily on the European Tour. "I feel very fortunate to be in this position. Right now I have the Olympic record. That's pretty cool. This is one of the best rounds I've ever played, given the circumstances.”
Adilson da Silva, the only Brazilian in the field, was given the honour of striking the opening tee shot. He later broke down in tears recalling how growing up he made clubs out of tree branches. He finished the day one over par on 72 to stay in contention for the medals. And on completing his round he was emotional as he reflected on his golfing journey. "We used to cut branches in the shape of a golf club," said Da Silva, tears dripping off his face. “Just before the tee off my head was everywhere. I was thinking ‘don't goof this, don't make a scene’. It's such a big deal you know. All my friends are talking about it saying it's such a nice thing to do.”
Sitting three off the lead after the first day was British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Graham DeLaet, who opened defence of the gold medal won by Canadian George Lyon at the 1904 Summer Games, with a five-under 66. One shot further adrift was Rose, Belgian Thomas Pieters, German Alex Cejka, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello. Two-time US Masters champion Bubba Watson lay way off the pace on 73.
"If you look at the leaderboard loads of people are in contention," said Rose. "I always like to take the leader out of it in my mind because you never know if they are going to continue and I'm right there with the rest of them.”