By Mark Hayes, Golf Australia
IT HAS BEEN 112 years since golfers played at the Olympic Games and when the sport makes its return at the Rio 2016 Games, the four Australians selected this week will become the country’s first Olympians in the sport.
Scott Hend, Marcus Fraser, Minjee Lee and Su Oh could not be prouder to wear the Australian Olympic uniform and chase a coveted Olympic medal on a new course that should suit the Australian style of play.
Hend or Fraser will be the first to tee off when the men’s tournament starts on day 6 of the Games (August 11). Sixty players will look to tame the course in the 72-hole stroke play format.
“It’s great to be part of the Olympic team heading to Rio,” Fraser said.
“To play in the Olympics is a dream come true, obviously with golf being back for the first time in over 100 years it is pretty amazing and it’s going to be a great week and I can’t wait to represent our great country.”
Hend, who will turn 43 during the final round in Rio, is ready to make the most of his opportunity.
“I’ll go to Brazil and represent Australia the best way that I can,” Hend said.
“I’ve never been to Brazil and, while I’ve competed in Mexico and Panama, I’m looking forward to pulling on the green and gold as it will be something different.”
Lee, who won her second LPGA Tour tournament in April in just her second year as a professional, is ranked No.14 in the world rankings and very excited to make the team.
“I can’t wait to represent Australia in the Olympics and think it is the highest honour that you can ever have,” the 20-year-old said.
“Just being among all the amazing athletes will be pretty cool and the atmosphere of the Olympics will be a special thing.”
Oh, also 20, has made a big impact on the LPGA Tour with a second and eighth-place finish in the past couple of months.
She and her family are thrilled that her fantastic season has earned her an Olympic spot.
“When my parents brought my big sister, my little brother and me to Australia when I was eight years old, I didn’t even play golf,” Oh said.
“They could never in their wildest dreams have imagined one of us would represent Australia in the Olympic Games. It’s a dream come true for my whole family.”
Lee and Oh were part of the Australian team that won the World Amateur Team Championship in 2014.
The 60 women will tee off on Day 12 of the Games (August 17) to start their 72-hole competition.
Ian Baker-Finch will lead the golf section of the Australian Olympic Team.
“I’m excited that golf is back in the Olympic Games after more than 100 years absence and I’m honoured and proud to be leading our golf team into Rio this August. Congratulations to all four team members, both men and women, upon your selection.”
“It is certainly going to be an exhilarating experience for us all and I know for a fact that all my team members will be performing to the best of their abilities and with just a little bit of luck I believe we can bring home the gold for Australia.”
The selection of these four golfers grows the Australian Olympic Team to 368 athletes from 25 sports.