• Englishman is one of two Team GB golfers
• "There's a pretty finite goal this week"
JUSTIN ROSE | OLYMPIC GOLF
Justin Rose has his sights fixed firmly on winning a gold medal for Team GB in the Olympic men’s golf competition, which gets underway in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow.
The 2013 US Open champion is the sixth highest ranked player in the field as golf makes its return to the Games after a 112-year absence and, along with Danny Willett, is one of two British medal hopes in the men’s event
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“There's a pretty finite goal this week,” admitted the 36-year-old. “It's either achieve or you don't. It's what everyone's here for. In the wider Team GB , it's what everyone trains for. It's what they expect. I think it's the kind of event that obviously there's three places that are worth shooting for.”
Rose also acknowledged that, as a result of his ranking and major winner status, he is one of the favourites to land a medal this week.
"If I have my week, I'm going to be as hard to beat as anybody" - Justin Rose
“I would say I'm on the short list,” he said. “If you wanted to rank, I think Henrik is probably the favourite. I'm right there, for sure. I'm playing well and I think as we all know, if I have my week, I'm going to be as hard to beat as anybody. I’m feeling good about the course, feeling good about my preparation and, yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
Unlike some of the other players taking part, Rose arrived in Rio last week in order to take in the opening ceremony of the Games. That, he revealed, was a particularly special experience.
“Walking into the Maracana Stadium was the highlight,” he said. “Just 105,000 people having a good time and celebrating the whole event. That was a pretty special feeling. Being able to witness a couple of the other events has been really good, too.”
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Rose also took the opportunity to pick the brains of Team GB’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony, two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.
“That was one of the highlights,” he added. “After the opening ceremony, I got to ride on the bus for an hour back to the athlete's village with him, so that was good to catch up and just recount some stories, get some insights into his world and vice-versa.”
Meanwhile, Rose’ Team GB teammate Willett, above, revealed that the preparation for the Olympic golf event has been unlike any tournament week he has ever experienced up to now.
“When you're at a major, that is the one thing going on,” said the Masters champion. “You've got 200,000 people flocking just to watch 18 holes of golf. Whereas out here, I don't know how many sports there are in the Olympics, but we're a very small percentage. Three per cent, three-and-a-half per cent of an entire thing. I don't think it's as big as a major in terms of build-up and stuff like that.”
In spite of that, Willett added that this week is “the most fun I’ve had for a long time” and that being an Olympic athlete is “a very cool experience”.
"It's nice to mix with people at the top of their game" - Danny Willett
“I'm happy I made the decision to come down and play,” he said. “And I'm very happy with my decision to stay in the Olympic Village, to get the real full feeling of what goes into it, of how much the whole of Britain as a team come together. It’s just an amazing experience to be around.
“Andy Murray is across the hall in the apartments, so you chat a bit to them about things. You have breakfast with Jessica Ennis-Hill in the morning, you chat again.
“It's nice to mix with people at the top of their game. Every week, we get 156 guys and you can sit at dinner with the top guys in the world at one sport but, in there, you can sit with a top ten person in 25 sports. Like I said, it's very, very unique.”
Justin Rose: Is he your tip for gold?
He's feeling confident about his prospects this week but is Justin Rose your tip for gold in the Olympic men's golf tournament? Tell us who you're tipping in our 'Comments' section below.