Sepp Straka holds a slender lead after day one of the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition, five years after he was inspired to become an Olympian by watching the action in Rio on TV. The Austrian shot a bogey-free round of 63 to get to eight under par and open up a one shot lead over Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond at Kasumigaseki Country Club as he made his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, after watching from afar as golf returned to the Olympics following a gap of over 100 years in Brazil.
Thomas Pieters got his bid to better his fourth place finish in 2016 off to a strong start with a six under par round of 65 to sit two shots off the lead, while Great Britain’s Paul Casey is within touching distance at four under par as he and team mate Tommy Fleetwood - who bogied the last to finish at one under par - seek to defend the gold medal won by Justin Rose five years ago.
Sepp Straka, statements
“When they had them (the Olympics) in Brazil I was watching, I wasn't close to qualifying back then but I was watching and it seemed like a cool event. Everybody that I knew that went over there and played just raved about it.
So, I knew at that point that that this was going to be on my radar and definitely wanted to play well so I could play my way in This morning, when you get to the course and you realise this is like once every four years (or five this time), it hits you.
So yeah, I was really looking forward to teeing off. Being from a small country - we have got two medals up to now - you just want to get one more for your country. I mean (winning a medal) is like legendary status back home.
I just want to get a medal, it would be lovely, but there is a long way to go" In Northern Ireland from 29 July to 1 August - on the same days as the Tokyo Games the men's individual golf competition will be staged - the ISPS HANDA World Invitational will be played, an innovative tournament organized by European Tour, LPGA and Ladies European Tour.
In County Antrim 288 competitors will compete: 144 men on one side, 144 women on the other. The parallel competition will take place on the two courses of the Galgorm Castle Golf Club and the Massereene Golf Club. Italy will be represented by Francesco Laporta and Aron Zemmer. Two cuts are planned: one after 36 holes, the other after 54.