Golf is back in the Olympics and Australia’s Marcus Fraser is going for gold.
Golf has returned to the Olympics for the first time in over 100 years and Australia’s Marcus Fraser has roared into the lead through round one of the men’s event in Rio.
Fraser fired an impressive 8-under 63 that included nine birdies and one bogey at the Olympic Golf Course to finish the opening day three shots clear of Canada’s Graham DeLaet and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
“We said before walking here, at the moment, you’ve got the Olympic record. That’s pretty cool. So hopefully that lasts all week,” Fraser said.
“I think this is probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played for sure. I think given the circumstances, I was quite edgy and a bit jumpy on the first tee, because it’s such a big occasion to be here at the Olympics.”
Fraser looked right at home on the brand new Olympic Golf Course layout as course designer Gil Hanse took inspiration from Melbourne’s sandbelt golf courses.
“The bunker lines, it’s what the Sandbelt is, it’s renowned for its bunkering,” Fraser added. “And obviously the strategy behind the Sandbelt golf courses, which this golf course feels like it’s got a lot of strategy to it.”
Fraser was never in any doubt about playing in the Olympic golf tournament when his opportunity arose after higher ranked golfers opted not to play.
“I think there’s four guys I think, Adam, Jason, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones. As I said before, they have got young families. Family comes first,” Fraser said. “You know, I’m just really embracing the fact that I’m actually here this week and enjoying it.”
Fellow Australian Scott Hend didn’t fare as well in the 60-man event finishing his round at 3-over par that was marred by a disastrous quintuple-bogey 10 at the par-5 10th hole.
Hend had made the turn in 3-under par thanks to a blemish-free opening nine holes that included three birdies but found the rough with his drive at the 10th hole and then found a number of bunkers which clearly weren’t to his liking.
“I played some great shots out here today but got caught out by how bad the bunkering is here, how bad the sand is, and buried myself on 10. It’s way too deep,” Hend said. “It’s a foot and a half, two foot of sand there. It’s shocking.”
The Olympic Golf events are played as a regular stroke play event over four rounds (72 holes). The Women’s Olympic Golf will tee off next Thursday.