RIO DE JANEIRO – After spending more than two decades away from home chasing his dream to be a professional golfer, Adilson da Silva’s homecoming will be better than he could have ever hoped for.
Olympic officials informed the Brazilian that he would hit the first tee shot on Thursday to begin the Rio Olympics. Da Silva, who left Brazil when he was 16 years old to play professional golf, is the only player from the host country in the men’s field and said he was surprised he was chosen to hit the first shot in the Games in 112 years.
“Wow,” he said on Tuesday after a practice round. “I think it’s going to sink in later. I’m very happy and honored. Sometimes I think, ‘How can I deserve all this?’”
Da Silva plays most of his golf on the Sunshine and Asian tours and said he added events to his schedule in recent months to assure his spot in the Games.
Having grown up in Santa Cruz do Sul, about a two hour flight south of Rio, da Silva said Thursday’s opening shot will be the most pressure he’s ever felt on the golf course.
“I hope I will be a bit sleepy so I won’t feel the pressure,” he joked. “It’s going to be quite exciting and I’m just going to try to concentrate on the shot. It will be hard, but I’m going to try to do it.”