With an 8-under 63, Australia’s Marcus Fraser leads the men’s competition by three shots over Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Canada’s Graham DeLaet after the completion of Round 1 in Rio. Here’s where things stand after the first 18 holes of Olympic golf in 112 years:
Leaderboard: Fraser (-8), DeLaet (-5), Stenson (-5), Thomas Pieters (-4), Gregory Bourdy (-4), Alex Cejka (-4), Justin Rose (-4)
What it means: Currently 90th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Fraser earned one of two Australian bids after four of his countrymen – Jason Day, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Matt Jones – opted to skip the Games. The 38-year-old took full advantage of his good fortune, recording the lowest round in Olympic history. Fraser, the current Order of Merit leader on the Asian Tour, is a three-time European Tour winner who most recently claimed victory at the co-sanctioned Maybank Championship in Malaysia in February. Six players sit within four shots of the lead after Round 1, but the two big names to watch are Stenson, who’s coming off his first major win at The Open, and Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ who recorded a first hole-in-one on Thursday and is looking to win on his sixth continent. (They don’t play often in Antarctica.)
Round of the day: Fraser didn’t make a par until the 17th hole, opening with five birdies and the lone bogey of his round at the par-4 second. After making the turn in 4-under 31, the Aussie added four back-nine birdies at Nos. 10, 13, 16 and 18 to match his lowest round in any worldwide event since he launched his professional career in 2002.
Best of the rest: In defense of George Lyon’s 1904 gold medal win, DeLaet went off in the day’s first group and carded a 5-under 66 to take the early lead before he was overtaken by Fraser. The round was even more impressive considering his recent history; DeLaet took a month off from competitive play earlier this summer as he sorted through, what he called, “incredible anxiety while chipping/pitching.” He was matched by a member of the final group, Stenson, who made six birdies, including one at the home hole, against a single bogey.
Biggest disappointment: Rickie Fowler, of the U.S., had been enjoying himself in Rio, right up until the first hole Thursday. Fowler, the eighth-ranked player in the world who’s been slumping all summer, 4-putted the first green for a double bogey and never recovered. Fighting his putter all day, Fowler, otherwise, made two bogeys and a birdie on each nine to shoot 4-over 75. After 18 holes, he finds himself one shot out of last place and 12 off the lead. Of course, Fowler wasn’t the only American to struggle, as Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson both turned in 2-over 73. Matt Kuchar was the only one of the four Americans to finish in red numbers with a 2-under 69.
Shot of the day: Rose’s historic ace at the par-3 fourth:
Quote of the day: “I can compare that with when my son was born,” – Brazil’s Adilson da Silva on hitting the opening tee shot. The 44-year-old closed his round with a birdie at 18 to shoot 1-over 72.