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Justin Rose makes Olympic history with first golf hole-in-one

Justin Rose got golf’s Olympic return off to the perfect start with an incredible hole-in-one at the newly-built Rio course.

Arguments about players refusing to come to Brazil over the risk of Zika virus infection was put on hold and we were finally able to sit back and enjoy what turned out to be a hugely exciting first day of Olympic Golf. The turnout was 20 male golfers making the trip for the 72-hole strokeplay event.

The International Golf Federation officials couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to the contest after a 112-year absence, with Great Britain’s Rose stealing the show with that sublime shot.

“It was one of those nice moments,” Rose said of his hole-in-one – believed to be the first in Olympic history – from 189 yards on the fourth. “When you are the first to do something, no-one can take it away from you.

“I give my caddie credit for that one. I was going to hit an eight iron but he told me seven and I went with it for a change and it worked out.”

Brazil’s Adilson da Silva had hit the opening tee shot in front of a sparse crowd at 07:30 local time, but spectators began to arrive throughout the day and the official attendance was announced as 6,242, albeit from 8,342 tickets sold.

“It was really fun,” former US Open champion Rose said after a four-under 67. “Still lower numbers of crowds than we are used to, but a lot more of an energetic and passionate crowd and definitely more patriotic.

“People were out there with flags and wearing their various team colours which makes it something unique and different and you feel like you are representing not just Team GB, but a nation as well.”

Rose was of course asked the obvious question about players skipping the event, and said: “This is great competition. You just have to look around at the scale of the Olympic Games and what a big deal it is. This is competition of the highest level and that’s what I live for.

“From that point of view they are missing out on a great competition.”

A meeting is scheduled for next September where an IOC review could mean golf’s return to the Games is a short-lived one, not going further than Tokyo in 2020, but IGF president Peter Dawson hopes that will not be the case.

“It’s the end of a long journey, or the beginning of a new one,” Dawson said. “We’re off to a great start. I think Adilson said it all there – the relief on his face when he hit a good drive was a lot more than for a normal event. These guys are up for it, which is wonderful to see.”

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