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For those of you who couldn’t make it through the time difference and the weather delay, we here at Golfweek are ready to catch you up on the opening round of the Tokyo Olympics men’s golf competition.
After making its return in 2016, golf is once again part of the Summer Olympics. Prior to that, it had last been an Olympic sport in 1904.
Kasumigaseki Country Club outside Tokyo is the host venue of the event and is one of Japan’s most exclusive private clubs. The East Course, which is where the Olympics are being played, opened in 1929, but Tom and Logan Fazio completed renovations to the track in 2016.
Here’s what you missed while sleeping:
1. Weather pushed things back
A player is taken to the clubhouse on a golf cart after play is suspended due to dangerous weather during round one of the men's individual stroke play of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
A weather delay of about two hours made this a long day at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Of course, things could have been worse. Tropical Storm Nepartak was originally expected to hit the region this week, with maximum gusts of 70 mph, but it made landfall on northeastern Japan, and veered off the initially projected course that would have taken it toward the Tokyo area. After the delay, play resumed at approximately 4:15 Tokyo time, or 3:15 a.m. Eastern Time.
2. Sepp Straka beat the rains (and the field, for the day)
Sepp Straka tees off on the first hole during round one of the men's individual stroke play of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 29, 2021. Photo by Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The inclement weather didn't faze Sepp Straka, who shot a bogey-free, 8-under 63 to grab the lead in the first round of the men’s golf competition. With his twin brother, Sam, on the bag, Straka took advantage of ideal scoring conditions and wrote nine 3s on his scorecard. Straka’s 63 tied the lowest round shot in the Olympics Jazz Janewattananond is a stroke behind Straka while Thomas Pieters and Carlos Ortiz are two back.
3. Rory McIlroy has a new haircut (and went sans hat)
Rory McIlroy (IRL) tees off on the fifth hole during round one of the men's individual stroke play of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy was "okay" in his own words, finishing the day at 2 under, which sits six off the lead. McIlroy was sporting a new haircut and went without a hat for the one of the few times in recent memory. "I feel like I played better than the score suggests. It was sort of an inefficient scoring day, so I drove it into the middle of the fairway on the three par-5s on made three pars. From those positions, I should be making birdies," he said. "But overall I played pretty good, drove it well, that's the best I probably drove it in a while. Short game just wasn't quite as sharp as I needed to be on those par-5s and a couple other holes. But yeah 2-under wasn't terrible, it wasn't anything to jump up-and-down about, but it was okay."
4. Justin Thomas had a par-fest
Justin Thomas (USA) and Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) on the putting green before round one of the men's individual stroke play of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
It doesn't happen often, but Justin Thomas put on a clinic in making par during the opening round, doing so on all 18 holes. According to stats guru Justin Ray, of the more than 17,000 stroke-play rounds on the PGA Tour so far this season, only five have featured a par on all 18 holes. When asked to describe his first Olympic experience, Thomas smartly replied: "Par."
5. There are no Americans in the top 10
Patrick Reed (USA) tees off on the sixteenth hole during round one of the men's individual stroke play of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
So much for the strong American contingent running roughshod over the competition. Only Patrick Reed — who was a late addition after Bryson DeChambeau's positive COVID test — and Xander Schauffele were within six shots of the lead after the first day. The leaderboard was dotted with various nationalities. https://twitter.com/OlympicGolf/status/1420675173187915781 And as for Schauffele, how was his night leading up to the Olympics? "I'm staying 20 minutes away and I felt that storm coming in, our hotel actually lost all power, so the AC went out last night, which was a nice feeling," Schauffele explained. "An emergency light came on, we had to unscrew a light bulb or sleep with the lights on. My caddie slept with the lights on in his hotel room. I don't know. It was out for probably five hours."