Austria's Straka Sets Early Pace In Star-studded Olympics Golf

Austria's Straka sets early pace in star-studded Olympics golf

Kawagoe, Japan, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 29th Jul, 2021 ) :Unheralded Austrian Sepp Straka set the early pace as the star-studded Tokyo Olympics golf got under way on Thursday, firing a bogey-free eight-under par 63 at Kasumisageki Country Club.

Straka played in the first group out, and behind him British Open champion Collin Morikawa was two-under par at the turn.

World number three Morikawa is spearheading a powerful four-man USA team in a tournament that had some of the gloss taken off by the late Covid withdrawals of world number one Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau.

Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama, the US Masters champion, was among the early starters and was on two-under par after 13 holes while Ireland's Rory McIlroy, playing with Morikawa, was a stroke further back in the early skirmishes.

Low scores were expected after a massive thunderstorm swept through the area overnight, softening the 7,447-yard par-71 course.

Halfway through the first round only five of the 60-player field were over par, with the world number 161 Straka leading the way after three birdies in a row from the 13th took him to seven-under par.

"Those are holes where if you just put it in the fairway on this course you can really take advantage and I got hot with my irons.

Was really knocking down the flag stick," said Straka.

Another at 17 took Straka clear of playing partner Thomas Pieters and though he flirted with a watery grave at the long 18th, Straka parred in to finish with a two-stroke advantage over the Belgian.

Straka had missed six of his last seven cuts on the US PGA Tour, making it to the weekend only at the Travelers Championship last month where he finished 10th.

"Those first few weeks before Travelers when I missed the cuts my irons were bad, but my short game was really good," admitted Straka.

"So I worked on my irons a lot and then my short game got bad. So that's when I missed the last couple cuts.

"But yeah just changed my putting routine up a little bit and it worked really well and my irons have been pretty good the last few weeks." Pieters was relieved to shoot a low score after waking up feeling poorly on Thursday.

"I felt horrible this morning," said Pieters, the world number 120, after his round of 65.

"So maybe it's just because I wasn't thinking about bad shots or places not to hit it. It was just my caddie telling me 'hit it there' and I did it and that was it. I kept it simple."Also in the clubhouse on 65 was Mexico's world number 61 Carlos Ortiz.