Olympic Golf Preview

This Thursday marks the return of golf to the Summer Olympics for the first time in 112 years. The field of 60 has six Major champions among it – including two who have won this year.

The favorite going in is likely Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who won the Open Championship a month ago. Stenson is playing great this season. Masters Champion Danny Willett is also in the field, as are former Major winners Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, and Justin Rose.

Other top players in the field are Americans Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, and Patrick Reed; and Spain’s Sergio Garcia.

Brazil’s lone entry is Adilson da Silva. da Silva is 44 years old and a native of Santa Cruz do Sul, although he has lived for a long time in South Africa, where he plays on the Sunshine Tour.  He’s played in The Open Championship thrice, finishing tied for 69th in 2012. He has received the honor of hitting the opening tee shot on Thursday.

The pairings for Thursday and Friday have been released and include:

Danny Willett, Matt Kuchar, Li Haotong: 9:03 a.m. Thu, 10:58 a.m. Fri.

Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Anirban Lahiri: 9:14 a.m. Thu, 11:09 a.m. Fri.

Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Emiliano Grillo, 10;25 a.m. Thu, 8:25 a.m. Fri.

Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Jhonattan Vegas, 10:58 a.m. Thu, 9:03 a.m. Fri.

Henrik Stenson, Rafael Cabrera Bello, Thongchai Jaidee, 11:09 a.m. Thu, 9:14 a.m. Fri.

Because of the lateness of construction of the course, the field hasn’t had a chance to play the course, although most like Justin Rose, went down the week before to walk it.

“We get pretty adept pretty quickly to figuring out a golf course,” said Justin Rose, who will represent Great Britain along with Masters champ Danny Willett. “It’s what we do, and we’re certainly down there early enough from the Friday before. So we have the best part of a week to play the golf course and figure it out.”

Items of note n the course:

  • No trees – Yep, you read that right. There are trees on the course, but none in play – unless you’ve really hit a shot poorly. The sparseness is also due the proximity to the ocean.
  • Big wind – Coming off the Atlantic Ocean, the wind could be a factor, although initial forecasts predict it at less than 10 miles per hour for Thursday.
  • Final Two – The 17th hole is a par-3, 133-yarder followed by a massive par-5, 571-yarder. Should be an interesting ending to most rounds.

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