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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 206
On paper, the course favours the Australian duo. Marcus Fraser and Scott Hend will recognise elements of the layout at Barra da Tijuca as course architect Gil Hanse drew inspiration from our Sandbelt in the design he crafted in partnership with LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott. “There are so few golf courses in Brazil,” Hanse said in an interview with Reuters earlier this year. “In order to paint a picture for those on the selection committee, our best comparison was Sandbelt courses outside of Melbourne, Australia, that have similar vegetation and sandy nature.” Designed in three distinct but interlinked sections, the course’s hallmarks are wide-open spaces and scrubby sandy waste off the fairways instead of rough. “The lack of rough will allow balls to move faster towards these areas which provide a more difficult challenge to the players,” Hanse told The Scotsman newspaper. “We believe this style of design has worked at Castle Stuart [site of this year’s Scottish Open] and has been a great model for us on the Olympic course.” Another design trait is the option for golfers to take brave lines in order to set up advantageous playing angles when approaching the greens, most of which are raised from fairway level. Add the exposed nature of a site influenced by ocean breezes – and it is often windy in Rio at this time of year – and you have a potentially volatile Olympic recipe. “The deciding factor will be the weather,” Hanse said. “It is typically very windy in August. We designed the golf course to handle wind. So if the wind blows like it does normally, I think it will be a really strong challenge. If it’s very calm, the scoring will be lower.” At 6,518 metres, the course is not long and without Hanse’s predicted breeze runs of birdies will be far more likely than a grind-fest of pars, which will add excitement to a tournament lacking much of it in the build-up. The par-5s are vulnerable and there are no par-4s between 378 and 437 metres, making all the two- shotters distinctly short or long. It’s a great fit for the big-hitting Hend, who can get ‘hot’ when his game is on and has the ball flight to combat strong winds (Sydney’s blowy New South Wales Golf Club is among his favourite layouts). His game provides a contrast that could gel with the ever-consistent Fraser, who will rely on precision iron play and his putting showing up. If that happens, we could be looking at an Australian medal winner or two. E EVENT INFO COURSE: Olympic Golf Course, Reserva de Marapendi LOCATION: Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL PAR: 71 AUSSIES IN THE FIELD: Marcus Fraser and Scott Hend TV TIMES* ROUND 1: Thursday (Channel 7, 7two or 7mate LIVE 8.30pm- 5am) ROUND 2: Friday (Channel 7, 7two or 7mate LIVE 8.30pm to 5am) ROUND 3: Saturday (Channel 7, 7two or 7mate LIVE 8.30pm-5am) ROUND 4: Sunday (Channel 7, 7two or 7mate LIVE 8pm-4.50am) *AEST, check local guides
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