Among the lukewarm reception for Olympic golf from the golfing community, Putney resident Justin Rose’s unwavering enthusiasm has been infectious.
The weeks prior to the Games were littered with stories of golfers withdrawing from the competition, many citing health concerns as justification for their absence.
While there are legitimate reasons for caution in Rio, the proportion of top-level golfers not attending, in comparison to a sport such as athletics, is evidence of where the Olympics stands in the priorities of the world’s best golfers.
The field, however, still retains some world class competitors — Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and Rose are just some of the golfers in attendance who have won majors in the last four years.
Since it was announced that golf would be part of the Rio Games, the 2013 US Open Champion has been eager to represent Team GB, recognising that the games occur once every four years.
He said: “It’s unique and it’s very different. It’s very special and being part of Team GB, which is going to be about 350 athletes, is something to behold and something to be proud of. ”
Rose’s connection to the Olympics is more personal than simple enthusiasm.
His late father Ken Rose, who died of Leukemia in 2002 aged 57, was an Olympian himself, and regaled his son with tales of the Games.
Kate Rose, Justin’s wife, was herself a former European Champion in gymnastics but was never able to become an Olympian due to her event not being included.
Rose will surely be competing for both Ken and Kate when he steps up to tee number one later today.
But, as a professional sportsman, his mind is naturally on finishing at the top of the podium.
He said: “I think if I was to fast-forward ten years, I’d like my career to read, ‘Justin Rose, multiple major champion and Olympic gold medallist.’”
It’s hard to know where an Olympics would rank among Rose’s titles.
He’ll certainly treasure the 2013 victory at Merion Golf Club, Pennsylvania, which provided him with a first major victory, a year prior to that he was also successful at the World Golf Championships in Florida.
A gold medal would at least join those titles on the top shelf of the trophy cabinet.
Rose has some experience of representing his country – or continent – in three Ryder Cup contests, where he has a very good record, picking up two victories and a total of ten matchplay points.
But he acknowledges the Olympics are a different level, he said: “The history of the Games, in terms of how long it’s been going on and how many great athletes have been before us and represented Team GB, that obviously makes it an honour.”
Before arriving in Rio, Rose said: “I want to take it all in. I feel like that would make it very real and help inspire me and give me a scale of what the Olympics is all about.
“I also want to experience being in the Olympic Village for a couple nights and have the opportunity to potentially take in some of the other competitions.”
His Twitter followers will know that he’s done exactly as he planned, visiting the swimming and gymnastics over the past week.
— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) August 6, 2016
— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) August 7, 2016
— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) August 8, 2016
Rose also hopes he will be able to demonstrate the benefits of an Olympics to those pros who haven’t turned up, citing the growth in participation by top tennis pros over recent Games as evidence of how an Olympic medal can grow in attractiveness within a highly congested professional sports calendar.
Evidently, Rose is highly invested in the Olympics as an event and golf’s place in it.
He’ll hope that the famous Olympic atmosphere can give him the boost needed to win the gold medal he’s been dreaming of for seven years.
— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) August 10, 2016
Rose is due to tee off at 5pm today.