SINGAPORE, Jan 14 — The three men’s golf medallists from the 2016 Rio Olympics will appear at the Singapore Open this week in a closely-watched showdown just months ahead of the Tokyo Games.
Gold medallist Justin Rose, silver winner Henrik Stenson and third-placed Matt Kuchar’s performances will give clues about their form before the Games begin in July.
“My goal really... is to play well and to make as many ranking points as possible to secure my position in team GB,” said 39-year-old Rose, ranked ninth in the world.
The English player added that his schedule this year was designed with “staying fresh” for the Games in mind, and that “defending the Olympic gold is obviously very much on the top of my list”.
The trio made light of their rivalry and said they were looking forward to facing each other again at an Olympics — Rio marked golf’s return to the Games after a 112-year absence.
“We all look back with great memories from Rio and want to make some new ones in Tokyo this coming summer,” said Stenson of Sweden.
Ten Olympians in total will compete at the US$1 million (RM4 million) SMBC Singapore Open, which runs from Thursday to Sunday and is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation.
They include Australia’s Marcus Fraser, Japanese player Yuta Ikeda and Brazil’s Adilson da Silva.
The Rio winners joked about what they had done with their medals — with America’s Kuchar, 41, admitting he carries his around in a sock inside his backpack.
“It has not found a permanent home,” said the nine-time PGA Tour winner from the United States.
Stenson, 43, said that his son once took his silver medal to school — only to bring it back with a dent.
Rose revealed that golf at the Tokyo Games will tee off on his 40th birthday, on July 30, leaving him with little time to celebrate.
“I’d like very much to keep my focus on the job at hand,” he said.
“I might have some piece of cake in the evening — but might have to defer the celebration to much, much later.” — AFP