After 112 years, golf finally returned at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and we got a huge round from an Australian to kick it off (more on that in just a minute). What transpired in Rio was inspiring for a nation and important for the sport. The leaderboard after 18 holes is as diverse as it is interesting, and the tournament is shaping up to be a good one as we head towards the weekend.
The American contingent of Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar largely disappointed, but a couple of major winners in Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose were there to pick up the slack.
It was little-known Australian Marcus Fraser, though, who leads by three strokes after the first round after firing a lights-out 63 in the first round.
"I think this is probably one of the best round of golf I've ever played for sure," the journeyman Fraser told Golf Channel. "... I was quite edgy and a bit jump on the first tee because it's such a big occasion to be here at the Olympics. To manage that and go on to play the way I did is really pleasing and a big confidence boost."
Fraser is not even one of the top-ranked golfers in his own country, but the withdrawal of Jason Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman opened the door for him to enter through it. He took advantage on the first day, but he will have some familiar company over the next three. Here's a look at the rest of the leaderboard.
1. Marcus Fraser (-8): Looking for his second win of the year (his first came back in February on the European Tour).
T2. Graham DeLaet (-5): DeLaet was the leader in the clubhouse for a while as he teed off in the very first group of the day. He said relished the lead while it lasted.
T2. Henrik Stenson (-5): Stenson closed out the day with a birdie at the last. He's on a preposterous roll right now. It's hard to see him not at least contending this weekend.
Another Belgian bomber to deal with.
, but he has all kinds of game. Could be the spark he needs to vault into stardom.
T4. Justin Rose (-4): Rose made the first ace in Olympic golf history on Thursday on the fourth hole. According to Justin Ray, he's looking for a win on his sixth different continent. That's pretty heady stuff.
I'm only sneaking him in here because he was my pre-tournament sleeper at 100-1. He's had a really solid last few weeks and even had a top 10 at The Players Championship earlier this year. Has the goods to contend, but I'm not sure he has the staying power.
Others at -4: Gregory Bourdy, Rafael Cabrera-Bello
- T11. Matt Kuchar (-2)
- T11. Sergio Garcia (-2)
- T11. Martin Kaymer (-2)
- T34. Patrick Reed (+1)
- T42. Bubba Watson (+2)
- T56. Rickie Fowler (+5)
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