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Rio Olympics: No show from golf's elite but Justin Rose eyes special memories

By Kevin Garside

The serious stuff starts now, four days to determine gold, silver and bronze in Olympic golf, returning to the IOC fold for the first time in a century.

The enthusiasm for the sport's re-entry among the golfing elite is measured by absence.

So many found a reason not to come, including the world's top four, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, all citing the Zika virus.

Judging by the testimony of Justin Rose, it is their loss, not the Olympic movement's.

Read more: Rio Olympics 2016: Live blog, full events schedule and medals tables

The medals are the thing, of course, but not the only thing.

"It's what everyone's here for," he said. "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 there's three places that are worth shooting for and then there's kind of - you were there to compete as an Olympian.

"There's a pretty finite goal this week. It's either achieve or you don't.

"But saying that, you're going to come out of this week with a memory that will last a lifetime.

"If you don't come away with a medal, I think you're still going to look back fondly on the experience."

Rose is articulating the essential view, that element that stimulates involvement in the first place, old fashioned ideas like the love of the game, the thrill of competition for its own sake.

That's what the Olympics should be about, but it is clearly a notion way out of step with professional golf.

Rose goes for Britain alongside Masters Champion Danny Willett in the men's event.

Charlie Hull and Catriona Matthew contest the women's event on the same Barra course next week.

Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire represent Ireland's women, while Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power are in action for the men.

Normal rules apply, 72-hole strokeplay in a field of 60. The course is a Gil Hanse creation hewn from swamp in a coastal nature reserve between the Olympic village and the sea.

When the Olympics retreat it will become a public facility with the lofty aim of encouraging Brazilians to take up the game.

In the meantime keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife.

According to venue director Bob Condron "it's like a zoo out there."

He added: "It's incredible, capybaras that nobody has even heard of. They are kind of like a big beaver, a big rat; birds, owls, alligators. It's very pleasing to look at. It's a course that's just a jewel."

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