• Aussie confirms he barely watched action from Rio
• World No.1 had chosen to skip the Games over Zika fears
• Meanwhile, it seems Rory really did tune in
World No.1 Jason Day has admitted that he only watched one hole of golf’s return to the Olympics.
The Aussie, who opted to skip the Rio Games over concerns about the Zika virus, revealed that he caught Justin Rose holing the putt to win the gold medal - despite his compatriot Marcus Fraser leading after the first two rounds and remaining in medal contention until deep into the back nine on Sunday.
"It looked like it was a very successful opening for golf to be back in the Olympics" - Jason Day
“I only watched the last hole,” said Day. “I didn’t watch one shot until the last hole. Obviously, it was great to see Henrik and Justin duel it out. ‘Kuch’ had an amazing run on that last day and it looked like it was a very successful opening for golf to be back in the Olympics. Exciting stuff for those guys, and I'm sure they're on cloud nine right now heading home.”
Read more -> Justin Rose secures gold for Team GB
Day, 28, was one of the many high-profile golfers who chose to sit out the Games citing concerns over Zika. The much-vaunted virus carries health risks, particularly amongst pregnant women and unborn children. That, said Day, forced his hand.
“Medical experts have confirmed that while perhaps slight, a decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and to my family,” he said in a statement on June 28. “My wife Ellie and I have been blessed with two wonderful and healthy children and our plan is to have more.
“While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. I will not place them at risk.”
Rory McIlroy was another golfer who chose to sit out the Games. The Northern Irishman courted controversy when, ahead of last month’s Open Championship at Royal Troon, he said that he was unlikely to watch any Olympic golf and would instead be more interested in “the events like track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters”.
"He was very, very proud and said he was pulling for me" - Justin Rose on Rory McIlroy
However, speaking to the media yesterday after winning gold in thrilling fashion on Sunday, Justin Rose hinted that the four-time major winner may have, in fact, been amongst the millions around the world tuning in.
Read more -> Stenson 'disappointed' not to win gold
Asked if he had received a congratulatory message from McIlroy, Rose confirmed that he had and added: “He was very, very proud and he said he was pulling for me. He said basically he could see how much it meant to me and congratulations.
"Yeah, he was very complimentary, so I guess he watched. Obviously, he made a point that he really wanted golf to succeed as an Olympic sport. He has his own personal opinions on it that are very personal to him and that's fine, but as a whole, he's very, very much behind golf succeeding in the Olympics.”
Meanwhile, early TV ratings from suggest that golf’s Olympic return certainly chimed with armchair fans.
Read more -> Leadbetter roasts Rio no-shows
In the USA, the final holes of the competition were broadcast in a 90-minute window by both NBC and the Golf Channel, attracting an average of 8.8million viewers over that period. Only the Masters has attracted a bigger audience in 2016.
In Sweden, meantime, the audience averaged over 555,000, which rose to 1.5m for the final holes, with the country’s Henrik Stenson in gold medal contention. This is as compared with an average TV audience of 65,000 for this year’s Open Championship, which Stenson won.
Jason Day: Ready to represent Oz
Jason Day was speaking at the announcement of the field for the World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath in Australia in November. He will be partnered by former Masters champion Adam Scott. Bubba Watson will represent the US but has yet to choose a partner; Danny Willett will play alongside Lee Westwood; and Scotland will be represented by Russell Knox and Duncan Stewart