RIO DE JANEIRO – They built it and some have come. Whether Gil Hanse’s handiwork becomes a field of dreams is now up to the clarity of competition.
After seven long years of hype and handwringing, controversy and curiosity, the time for speculation ends early Thursday morning when Brazil’s Adilson da Silva returns golf to the Olympics after more than a century hiatus with a single tee shot.
On the eve of the men’s competition in Rio all those concerns – from the Zika virus to construction delays – have largely slipped away under the glow of the Olympic flame.
On Tuesday, the team from the United States fielded what will likely be the last of the questions about the players who aren’t at the Games. From here, the narrative shifts to those who did make the trip.
“Ten years down the line you’re going to look at who won the gold medal, not who wasn’t here,” said Henrik Stenson, the highest-ranked player in this week’s field.
Although the relative success or failure of this year’s Games will always be tied to those who decided to pass on the Olympic opportunity – a list that includes four out of the top 5 in the world wanking – the real litmus test depends on the next 72 holes.
Asked what elements needed to fall into place this week to make golf’s return to the Games a success, Sergio Garcia waded through all of the distractions that have become the calling card for this competition.
“If it’s a great show, playing good golf, and hopefully it comes down to the last few holes where things are tight where someone has a nice finish to win it,” Garcia said.