The golf competition at Rio 2016 will be unique for several reasons.
Not only will this be golf’s first appearance in an Olympic Games since St. Louis 1904, the event will be played on an unfamiliar course – a rarity at the elite level of golf.
“Given that no players have seen the golf course it’s going to be a very fair competition and it’s going to be a good one,” said David Hearn, who was nominated to Team Canada’s Rio 2016 golf team on Tuesday.
Canadian Graham DeLaet will join Hearn in the men’s competition, which will take place August 11-14 at Rio’s new Olympic Golf Course.
“We were all rookies once and we all had to learn golf courses,” said DeLaet. “It’s the same for everybody because nobody’s seen it.”
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The course is located just 9km from the Olympic Village and will feature a par of 71. It’s hoped that the new course will help increase the sport’s popularity in Brazil.
The participants for Olympic golf were based on the World Golf Rankings. Hearn will be ranked 35th in Rio while DeLaet is 40th. While the competition will be missing the world’s top five ranked golfers – American Bubba Watson will be the No. 1 seed – the tournament will still be challenging, said DeLaet.
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“If you look down the list there’s still some pretty great players,” said the 34-year-old, who recently shaved off his signature beard. “It’s not a college golf event or anything like that. There’s some top players there.
“I’m going, I’m proud and I’m going to go down there and try and win a medal.”
Hearn, who is planning on attending the Opening Ceremonies, said he’s looking forward to taking in the whole Games experience.
“To be an Olympian, it’s something that, outside of golf, these athletes work at their whole life and this is their one moment. This is their time to shine. I’m going to really enjoy watching these athletes compete for that one moment in their lifetime,” said Hearn, 37. “Hopefully I can have a special moment down there as well and come back with a medal.”
Hearn and DeLaet are both competing at the RBC Canadian Open in Oakville, Ontario this week. No Canadian has won the event since Pat Fletcher did so in 1954. Hearn came very close last year, finishing in third.
“Hopefully this year I can get right back into contention, have a great week again this week and then that will help me gear up for the Olympic Games.”