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Aug 15, 2016 | 06:05 am

Olympic Golf: What We Learned

Not only did Justin Rose (above) win the first Olympic gold medal in golf in 112 years, we learned some things worth thinking about going forward. For instance…

  • As suspected, pride does matter, at least among those players who chose to play in Rio. It’s nice to see a competition where money isn’t the big issue, but you have to feel a little bad for the 57 men who didn’t get to stand on the podium. They did get some nice shirts and bags, though.
  • Whether or not personal and patriotic pride mattered, NBC’s commentators sure thought it did and had to tell us every few minutes how important the event was and how much the players cared. Which very well may have been true, but we could have used a little less breast-beating by the broadcaster.
  • Wasn’t it nice to see players almost devoid of corporate logos? Other than something from their countries and something generally subtle from the apparel manufacturers, the uniforms weren’t walking billboards. However, Rose’s final-day shirt (also above) almost made us forget the ugly shower curtains worn by the American Ryder Cup team at The Country Club in 1999. Almost.
  • If Matt Kuchar makes the Ryder Cup team this year, don’t tell him which format he’ll be competing at each day. He seems to do just fine when he doesn’t know in advance if he’s playing singles, foursomes, four balls, match play, or a scramble.
  • Speaking of the Ryder Cup, the Europeans would seem to have an edge if the Olympics are an indicator. Although Kuchar took the bronze medal, he was surrounded by Rose (England), silver medalist Henrik Stenson (Sweden), Thomas Pieters (Germany), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spain), and Sergio Garcia (Spain). Kudos to Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, both of whom battled back from weak starts to finish in the top 11. (The fourth American, Rickie Fowler, finished T37.)
  • We didn’t miss Rory, Jordan, Dustin, Jason, and the other no-shows.
  • After the negative comments about the same-old format (72 holes, stroke play), it still came down to a classic mano a mano battle between two of the world’s best. Which is pretty cool no matter where it happens.
  • Perhaps most important, the lesson to take away from four rounds in Rio is that great golf is great golf no matter where it’s played, under what conditions, or the players involved. And that has nothing to do with the Olympics.
  • And here's hoping the women put on just as good a show.
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Aug 12, 2016 | 08:49 am

The Real Star of the Rio Olympics

Setbacks, protests, fits, and starts ended up having no perceivable effect on the end result of Gil Hanse’s work on the new Olympic Golf Course in Rio. Even after an opening round 73, Bubba Watson sung the praises of the course. “The course is amazing. Not knowing what to expect, brand new golf course, has not been open that long. To see it in this condition, I mean, this is the best-conditioned course we've played all year.” If even the typically cantankerous Watson approves of the course, it is the real hero of Olympics golf.

The course produced everything that fans want to see. A surprise leader, Australia’s Marcus Fraser, emerged after an eight-under-par 63. Justin Rose made the first hole-in-one in Olympics history, and the course still showed enough bite to separate the best from the rest. This all calms the fears of those, including Hanse, who initially thought the open, rolling course may play too easy for the stars in the Olympics field.

For the golf media who ran with the story that the course was on the brink of failure these past two years? Well, it’s Gil Hanse laughing breathing a sigh of relief now.

What do you think of the Olympic Golf Course in Rio? Let us know in the comments below!

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Aug 11, 2016 | 06:15 am

Olympic Golf: It’s A Zoo Out There!

At 6:30 a.m. today, Brazilian Adilson da Silva will have the honor of hitting the opening shot in golf’s return to the Olympics after 112 years. But it seems a number of other “natives” have been on the course for some time. According to numerous reports, the Gil Hanse-designed Reserva de Marapendi course is being frequented by capybaras, a large rodent that, according to Wikipedia, “inhabits savannas and dense forests and lives near bodies of water.” Quoted by the Voice of America, Bob Condon, the media director for the Olympic golf venue, said capybaras “are kind of like a big beaver, a big rat,” while noting that other animals are enjoying the course, as well. “Birds, owls, alligators. You know, it’s like a zoo out here.” Lest you think we’re making this up, the photo above, taken on the course, is from Golf Channel’s Twitter feed.

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Aug 10, 2016 | 08:30 am

Senior Moment

Lost in all the Olympic hoopla is the fact that the U.S. Senior Open is taking place this week at Scioto Country Club in suburban Columbus, Ohio, the boyhood golf home of Jack Nicklaus. The last time the club was in the national spotlight was three decades ago for the 1986 U.S. Senior Open, which was one of five different significant tournaments the club has hosted, the others being the 1926 U.S. Open, won by Bobby Jones, the 1931 Ryder Cup, the 1950 PGA Championship, and the 1968 U.S. Amateur. Nicklaus won’t be playing this week, but will be there as honorary chairman. His presence will be felt in other ways, too, from historic photos inside the clubhouse to out on the course, which he renovated in 2008 with Dr. Michael Hurdzan, who’s based in Columbus. The club is celebrating its centennial this year, which is part of the reason why the USGA selected the club to host the 37th Senior Open. You can get a look at this Midwestern gem on FS1 from 2-7 pm on Thursday and Friday and on Fox from 2-6 on Saturday and Sunday. You can also watch featured groups on usga.org pretty much all day long during rounds one and two and from 2-6 on the weekend.

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