Because Australians Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones chose to bypass the Olympics this year, Marcus Fraser landed a spot in golf’s return to the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
And Fraser made the most of it.
Fraser shot an 8-under par 63 Thursday to lead after the first day of Olympic golf competition in 112 years, riding his emotion and a hot putter to a day he will never forget.
“This is probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played for sure,” Fraser said. “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. To manage that and go on to play the way I did is really pleasing and a big confidence boost.
“Tapping in on 18, it looked like it was only a three-footer, but when it went in, I looked down there and grabbed my ball out of the hole and (it’s) something I’ll never forget because it’s pretty special to be able to shoot that score in the first round that golf’s back in the Olympics.”
Fraser made four birdies in a row at one stretch early in his round then closed out with two birdies in the last three holes to lead after the first day on the Gil Hanse-designed Olympic course.
Ranked 90th in the world, Fraser quietly hoped some of his fellow Australians would choose not to participate in the Games so he could have the opportunity.
“As I’ve said before, I’m glad they decided not to come. I really want to be here and think it’s exciting,” Fraser said.
“But at the same time I’ve really got to respect the decision that those guys made not to be here. They know it’s a special event but for other reasons they decided not to (come) and you’ve got to respect them for that.”
After the long build up to golf’s officlal return to the Games, it was a colorful start.
In addition to Fraser’s 63, the day included an ace by Justin Rose and the emotional opening tee shot hit by Brazilian Adilson da Silva.
“Before I tee off, my head was everywhere, just don’t goof this,” da Silva said. “But just toward the end I managed to calm myself down and focus on what I wanted to do. I have been hitting my drive well so (in) the end I commit to the shot and I hit a nice shot there.”
After the first round, none of the four American players were in the top 10.
Matt Kuchar led the U.S. contingent, shooting 2-under par 69 that left him tied for 11th place. Patrick Reed opened with 72 while Bubba Watson shot 73 and Rickie Fowler shot 75 after four-putting his first hole.
|T4||Cabrera Bello, Rafa||-4||F||-4|
|T9||An, Byeong Hun||-3||F||-3|
|T11||Six players tied||-2||F||-2|