RIO DE JANEIRO – Even after a few days of practice, the great unknown at this week’s men’s competition will be how the Olympic Golf Course will play.
Henrik Stenson, the highest-ranked player in this week’s field, echoed the sentiments of many when asked about the Gil Hanse design, “It doesn’t play the way it looks,” he said.
Hanse designed a links-like golf course to be played in the wind, but the grasses used in Rio aren’t the same as those in the United Kingdom and will not play with the same bounce players get at The Open.
The most interesting aspect of the golf course, however, will likely be the closing stretch, which includes a drive-able par 4 (No. 16 at 303 yards), a short par 3 (No. 17 at 133 yards) and a par 5 that will be reachable in two shots for many in the field (No. 18 at 571 yards).
“A lot of things can change hands coming down those last three holes,” Stenson said on Wednesday.
The Swede said he probably won’t try to drive the green at the 16th hole, laying up short of a pair of mounds in the fairway, unless officials use a back-left hole location.
“If you try to get up or if you try to drive the green, and you go left, you're most likely going to end up in those bushes or high grass down there,” he said.
Stenson said he could imagine a two-stroke swing at the 17th hole, with the small green providing plenty of chances for both birdies and bogeys, and he will try to reach the 18th green in two shots.