For the first time since 1904, PGA Golf returned to the Summer Olympics. Although some stars opted out of playing for an Olympic medal, some to rest and others to avoid the Zika virus, the field is still relatively competitive. Australian Marcus Fraser leads at 10 under by one stroke over Belgium’s Thomas Pieters. Open Champion Henrik Stenson sits in 3rd place at 8 under. With no clear leader, the third and final rounds will feature excitement, drama, and heartbreak. And with an Olympic Gold Medal on the line, golfers will be poised and determined to play their best. Here’s what to expect:
A Surge from Sergio
Sergio Garcia was one of the hottest golfers this summer. Although he currently sits in the middle of the pack at 1 under par, this weekend he should turn things around. The Olympic course favors strong iron players. Sergio ranks 5th in Greens in Regulation this year, a statistic that can be attributed to his irons. Although, his biggest problem thus far in Rio has been hitting greens. Garcia’s the 11th best player in the world. He should be able to correct his mistakes and increase his Green in Regulation percentage over the next two days. Also, Sergio plays his best when he represents his country or continent. That’s why he has 18 wins in Ryder Cup play. Although he may be too far behind to win a medal, expect a strong finish from the Spaniard.
A Comeback from Thailand’s Finest
Kiradech Aprhibarnrat had a wild Thursday with more combined birdies and bogeys than pars. His 2nd round was much steadier but he will need to mount a tremendous comeback to have any shot at winning a medal. In 2016, Aphibarnrat’s kryptonite has been hitting the fairways. However, the course in Rio has very little rough. With wider fairways and less deep rough, his work with his driver won’t hold him back. Also, Aphribarnrat has played one stroke better on Sundays than any other day of the week this year, according to PGATour.com. Aphibarnrat is one of Thailand’s most recognizable Olympic athletes and will gain more popularity with an exceptional weekend.
A Powerful Weekend
Seamus Power, the Irishman who doesn’t have a PGA Tour card, shot a 4 under 67 to sneak into the Top 10 heading into the weekend. His score on Friday was four shots better than his 71 on Thursday, indicating that his game is turning around at the right time. He hit three more greens and averaged .25 fewer putts per green in regulation on Friday. His confidence is rising, especially when it comes to his putting. He should be able to carry this momentum into the weekend.
Seen as one of the best golfers on the Tour after his Open Championship victory, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is the most feared golfer in Rio. With his effortless, pure swing he very rarely makes mistakes. And unlike most of the field, he is accustomed to playing on an international stage. Stenson currently sits in striking distance at 8 under. He followed up an opening round 66 with an equally impressive 68. All signs point to the fact that he will continue to play at this level and end the weekend with a gold medal.