Rose Strikes First in Rio

Rose Takes Gold In Rio

Britain Looking Good So Far

Golf has, at last, has begun at the Rio Olympics, and so far, so good. Not one player has been eaten alive at the ponds, pounced on from a tree, stung by anything other than the normal types of airborne critters, or robbed at gunpoint at a tee box. Everyone and everything in nature appears to be on its best behavior as of Saturday morning, Pacific Standard Time.

Justin Rose, who has had a promising albeit on-again, off-again, time on tour, is definitely “on.” To be perfectly honest, he’s had his share of the upside, as the 2013 U.S. Open Champion. You start winning majors, and no one complains too much. Rose had a spectacular first day. The score was good, but the way he did it was the fun part, including the first ace scored by a male Olympic golfer for over a century, 104 years, to be more precise.  His eagle on the 189 yard par 3 4th was accomplished with a 7-iron. Again, the pros rub in just how far they hit each club. When I was young, 189 yards was no 7-iron, although as an older player, it’s surprisingly a little bit closer.

roseAll in all, Rose finished the day at 4 under, With all the fireworks in his bag, you’d think he was the leader, but that would be Marcus Fraser of Australia, at least through day 1. Fraser shot a 63 and led by 4. However, on the second day, at the 54 hole mark, Rose continued his winning ways, and leads the hunt for the lump of gold never taken in the last century by a golfer at the Olympics.

We should, again, be more precise. That would be “male” golfer. Can you guess who did it for the women? That’s right, Babe Didrikson, who did pretty much anything and everything  a female athlete was allowed to do. She won a championship and a gold medal. In a sense, even though the men stand to make history in one way, the women stand to repeat it in just as exciting a fashion.
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The way it’s shaping up, the game of golf is just as much an individual effort in Rio as it is on tour – any tour. The nations with the most team members due to previous rankings don’t as yet have any particular edge. Justin Rose has his work cut out for him – that much is certain. With a lead of one stroke after 54, he stands at 12 under, with Henrik Stenson only a shot behind. That is significant, since Stenson has been the scourge of Europe over the past month. He won the Open, and hasn’t fallen out of third place in any event since. In short, he’s hot, and appears to be holding the pattern. Fraser has fallen back to minus 9, but that’s not far. The closest American is Bubba Watson at minus 6. Watson could have been, perhaps, a bit closer, but something always happens to Bubba. It’s his thing. This time, it’s a mudball putt. Some got on the ball, but he went right ahead and putted it anyway, unable to stop the club face, so he says. When asked, he confirmed it – “Mud ball, for sure.”

There were side delights as well. Padraig Harrington has come in at 5 under, and reports of his demise seem to have been issued prematurely.  South African Jaco Van Zyl obliged the gallery’s thirst for rare shots by entering the second ace of the games. All things considered, that’s much better than someone being eaten by a caiman, stung by a wayward mosquito, or mugged while bending over a putt. Now, it’s all up to Justin Rose. Will he handle the general pressure of reaching for a century plus of greatness? Will he handle the specific pressure of Stenson and Fraser.

And, just wait until the women get started.
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