Graham DeLaet Hanging Around as Marcus Fraser is Surprise Olympic Golf Leader
RIO DE JANEIRO — Marcus Fraser didn’t hide the fact he has surprised himself by leading after two rounds of the Olympic golf tournament.
“If someone had told me I would be in this position at the start of the week, I would have told them to go somewhere,” Fraser said after completing his second round at 2-under 69 Friday.
Ranked 90th in the world, Fraser has been the star of the tournament so far, sitting at 10-under through two rounds and holding off bigger names on the leaderboard, like Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (8-under) and Great Britain’s Justin Rose (6-under).
He’ll play in the final group Saturday, with Stenson and Thomas Pieters of Belgium, who is second at 9-under.
“Anytime you play with Stenson at the weekend you know you are doing something right,” Fraser said. “It’s fine. I know those boys have completely different, bigger games to what I have. But there is more than one way to skin a cat. It will be good fun out there.”
Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask. followed up his 5-under opening round with an even-par 71 on Friday and is tied for sixth heading into the weekend. He birdied the 18th hole for the second straight day.
“It was nice to make that and get it back to even par for the day and still be right in it,” DeLaet said. “I felt like I was just kind of playing from behind all day.”
David Hearn of Brampton, Ont., shot a 1-under 70 on Friday and sits 1-over for the tournament. He is 11 strokes back of the leader and nine back of the bronze medal position, but Hearn is not giving up.
“Overall I played better today than I did yesterday,” he said. “I got off to a better start. I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable with the golf course and hopefully I’m not too far back to make a good run this weekend and I’ll have a chance at a medal. I’ll need a pretty special weekend but I think I still have a chance.”
Hearn played in the first group, in a steady-to-driving rain. The skies cleared later in the day and gave golfers with later tee times soft conditions and light winds.
One of the biggest movers of the day was two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson of the United States, who shot a 4-under 67 to sit at 2-under for the tournament.
Matt Kuchar has the best score among the four Americans at 4-under, while Patrick Reed is at 1-under and Rickie Fowler is 4-over.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Masters champ Danny Willett of England are all 1-under.
Fowler, who still believes he has a “very outside chance” to win, was followed around the course by actor Matthew McConaughey.
“We’ve always followed each other on social media,” Fowler said. “It was really cool he was able to make it. He flies back tonight. It is the first time we have met in person. No better place than here at the Olympics. It just shows you how big the Olympics is.”
DeLaet also had a strong following as he played Friday.
“There were some Canadian onesies out there, people were draped in the flag and the red and white,” said DeLaet, who will play in the third last group on Saturday (with Danny Lee of New Zealand and Fabian Gomez of Argentina), teeing off at 10:47 a.m. local.
“It’s a lot of fun to play in front of that. We don’t get it every week and it makes it all a little more special.”
STENSON SHOWS WHY HE’S THE FAVOURITE
Henrik Stenson is considered by many the favourite to win the Olympic golf tournament and on Friday he showed just why.
The Swedish golfer, who is coming off an epic win at the British Open, made a ridiculously long putt on the third hole as part of a 3-under round that left him at 8-under for the tournament, two back of leader Marcus Fraser.
Stenson hit his tee shot on the par-4 in the water, then trickled a four wood up to the front of the green, leaving him more than 80 feet away from the hole.
“You are standing there praying for a two-putt bogey and before I know it that thing found the bottom of the cup,” Stenson said.
“It is the longest putt I have made in my career, I think. First of all it’s hard to get a putt that long on any green in the world — St. Andrews maybe on a double green.”