Justin Rose Makes 1st Hole-in-One in Olympic History | NBC Chicago
2016 Rio Olympic Games

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Justin Rose Makes 1st Hole-in-One in Olympic History

Marcus Fraser of Australia was the leader after the first round

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Justin Rose of Great Britain celebrates after hitting a hole in one on the fourth hole during the first round of men's golf on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympics at the Olympic Golf Course on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    The day belonged to Marcus Fraser.

    The moment, though? That was Justin Rose's.

    On a day of firsts for Olympic golf, Fraser, an Australian, shot an 8-under 63 that stood for a three-shot lead over Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Graham DeLaet of Canada. He set an Olympic record, though that was hardly a surprise considering golf had not been part of the Olympics in 112 years.

    Fraser was among a host of new Olympians who gave golf the start it needed.

    Adilson da Silva of Brazil hit the first Olympic golf shot since 1904 with the opening tee shot, while Rose made what is believed to be the first hole-in-one.

    The surprise was the American performance. With four golfers in the 60-man field, only Matt Kuchar (69) broke par. Rickie Fowler started with a double bogey and shot 75, beating only two players. Patrick Reed shot 72 and Bubba Watson had a 73.

    Rose notched the historic achievement Thursday during the first round of men's golf in Rio on the par-3 fourth hole. Rose raised his hands in celebration as the crowd around him broke into applause.

    The chance of an average golfer making a hole-in-one is 12,500 to 1, according to US Hole In One, which sells insurance for golf outings and tournaments that host hole-in-one contests. For a professional tour golfer the odds are 2,500 to 1.

    da Silva's opening tee shot at Olympic Golf Course went right down the middle of the fairway, and da Silva smiled and removed his cap to wave at the crowd. The grandstand was filled with more golf officials than fans. 

    Still, it is Fraser who ended the day with the lead.

    Fraser, who only got into the Olympics when four other Australians — including world No. 1 Jason Day and Adam Scott — withdrew, made the most of his opportunity, playing early Thursday before the wind began to kick up. Fraser ran off four straight birdies on the front nine, and finished with two birdies in the last three holes.

    He smiled at the thought of holding an Olympic record, calling it "pretty cool," and adding that he hopes it lasts all week.

    Not since 1904 in St. Louis has an Olympic medal been awarded in golf. The sport has come under scrutiny because six of the top 10 players in the world chose not to play. 

    International Golf Federation Peter Dawson turned and flashed two thumbs up when the first group teed off. He called it a long journey and then added, "or the beginning of a new one."

    The sport's return is drawing raves from fans, even if one local's embrace nearly went a little too far.

    When Anirban Lahiri of India launched his tee shot at the second hole wide right, the ball came to rest a few feet outside the gallery ropes just as a handful of Brazilians approached. One enterprising fan walked over and was about to scoop it up — apparently thinking that like foul balls in baseball, he was entitled to a souvenir — when cries of "No! No!" stopped him in his tracks.

    "We are still learning the game, as you can see," laughed Marcello Almeda, who carries and 32 handicap and made the 300-mile trip from the city of Victoria in the north to Rio. "It's a beautiful sport, but we don't have too many players as yet."

    The gallery Thursday at the Olympic Golf Course was an eclectic one, to be sure. The guide handed to spectators included the usual map of holes, but a glossary of terms and "Tips for Spectators" as well. No. 9 warned "Never a catch a ball, even if it is front of you."

    Oops.