RIO DE JANEIRO – It’s not often a player finishing his round on Sunday before the leaders have even reached the turn gets a standing ovation, but then there was nothing ordinary about the Olympic men’s golf competition for Adilson da Silva.
Da Silva was Brazil’s lone player in this week’s field and as he put the finishing touches on a closing 69, his only sub-par card of the week, the home fans showed their appreciation.
“To have this crowd like this, supporting you, staying behind you even when you’re not playing too well. It makes such a big difference,” said da Silva, who became emotional as he circled the 18th green after finishing his round with a Brazilian flag.
Officials had Da Silva hit the first tee shot on Thursday in golf’s return to the Olympics, and although he was never in the hunt for a medal after opening with rounds of 72-71-73 he savored the experience. The Brazilian’s pride was also evident as he surveyed the scene on Sunday at the Olympic Golf Club where thousands of fans were on hand for the final round.
“It’s nice to see so many people; for us I think this is exactly what we need,” he said.
Da Silva left Brazil when he was 16 years old to play professional golf in South Africa and still lives there with his family. The 44-year-old splits his time between the Sunshine and European tours and has played in three Opens, but said his experience in Rio was the highlight of his career.
“I’ve played the British Open and it’s very much on par with the British Open, even better to have that honor and hit that shot,” he said. “I think we’re very fortunate to be a part of the Olympics.”