What they’re saying about the Olympics: The golfing goal is gold

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Thank Justin Rose.

Ahead of Rio 2016 there was plenty of apathy about the re-introduction of golf to the Olympic Games, but the Englishman was undoubtedly one of the key drivers of changing the mood in and around the top echelons of the sport.

Because Rose was clearly having the time of his life in Brazil five years ago.

He thrived when close to other sportsmen and women, he was fuelled by the sight of the five rings, and he was clearly overwhelmed when completing victory.

It even became something of a joke among his friends - that the gold medal rarely left his chest so often did it seem to emerge in the years after its presentation on the Rio podium.

But the banter was all well-meant - those other golfers wanted a little of what Rose had.

Indeed, Tommy Fleetwood, who will represent Team GB this year alongside Paul Casey in Rose's stead, said when earning selection: "Justin has spoken to me about it a lot.

"It was really cool like seeing his face light up and hearing him talk about how he felt about not only competing in Olympics, but being an Olympic gold medallist. It was very, very cool."

Let's see what the leading contenders have been saying about this every unusual golfing week, when there are three prizes on offer, rather than just one trophy.

Collin Morikawa is pumped

"The goal is to win gold. I'm not going there just to enjoy the moment and soak it in, I'm there to win. Team USA has a very strong core of players so let's go out there and win gold. Just aalking about Team USA, making that team, putting on the uniforms, it just feels that extra special feeling, those extra chills in your body. Travelling in Team USA gear, stepping into Tokyo with that Team USA outfit it's going to be a memory and an experience of a lifetime that I'll never forget."

Tommy Fleetwood is very pumped

And so is Paul Casey

"The older I get, the better things seem to get. The Open, I'm obviously mega excited about that. Then it's the Olympics and the Ryder Cup. I've got a great opportunity here to have a summer which could define my career, if I capture lightening in a bottle."

Rory McIlroy is not quite so pumped

"I'm not a very patriotic guy. I'm doing it because I think it is the right thing to do. I missed it last time and for golf to be an Olympic sport you need your best players there, and I feel like I want to represent the game of golf more than anything else. I don't know if there is much to look forward to, it is obviously going to be a very different environment. There is not much else to do there so 12 hours a day on the golf course, hopefully I get my game in a bit better shape."

Fellow Irishman Shane Lowry is rather more straightforward

"It's a huge honour to represent my country at the Olympics. I'm going with one goal and one ambition, and that's to bring a medal back to Ireland. That's the only reason I'm going. I'm not going there on my holidays. I'm going there to win a medal. It's a great opportunity for me to go and do something very special. Hopefully, I can get over to Tokyo and grab it by the scruff of the neck."

Best first day at primary school photo ever:

Late call-up Patrick Reed is excited despite the fact he'll have no practice

"I knew being first man up that I was going to have that potential of getting that call and go represent our country. When they gave me the name Captain America, the fans did, it feels like an obligation and a duty of mine to go out and play for our country whenever I can and whenever I get the call. To be able to call myself not just an Olympian but a two-time Olympian is pretty sweet. Just going to have to try to tap into that kind of Monday mentality where I didn't have a practice round, go in there, try to post a low number and stay aggressive."

Home hero Hideki Matsuyama is tentative but excited

"Finally, the Olympic Games will begin soon. I will brace myself and I hope I can deliver a good performance. When I got infected with Covid in the US, I could not really practice. But since I came back, I have been able to practice gradually, so I can't wait to tee up in the competition. My condition has been getting better and I am looking forward to the Olympic Games."

Justin Thomas is proud

Cameron Smith is just excited

"It's going to be awesome. I can't wait to get over to Japan. It's one of my favourite countries. I love it there. I love the golf over there. I'm playing really good golf at the moment. Hopefully, I can go over there and just have a good week with Leish (fellow Aussie Marc Leishman, with whom he won the Zurich Classic in May). We've had good weeks in the past, so hopefully we can go have another one."

Abraham Ancer sees this as a Major test

"I would consider it like maybe fifth major. It's different because I didn't grow up really thinking about the Olympics for golf. Never been part of it. But now that it is, definitely a big deal. Huge deal. Any chance I can get to play for my country or as a team, I just enjoy it so much. I think it's going to be another great experience."

Sungjae Im is treating this week seriously

"If I make a pledge for this Olympics, I will treat this opportunity as if it is the last chance. My goal is to do my best and to think this is an opportunity that will not come again. It may not be easy but I want to help the team because I am a representative of Korea. A Korean male golfer has never won a medal in the Olympics."

Mackenzie Hughes is fresh off two Major Championship top 10s

"I like our (Canada's) chances. Four great golfers going over there (himself, Corey Conners, Brooke Henderson, Alena Sharp). I think we're all in a pretty good place as far as our games go. Leave it all out on the golf course in Tokyo. I'm excited. I'll go over there believing that I have a chance to win."

Jazz Janewattananond inspired by Thailand winning gold in taekwondo

"It was pretty amazing even watching it on TV. We were like, 'Oh my God, this is happening and we're getting a medal.' It kind of kickstarted our emotions a little bit and we're now thinking it's possible even in our sport to win a medal and let's go do it. It's pretty surreal. It didn't hit me until pretty much arriving at the Games Village and walking around. I'm really one of the Olympians now. The dream is to get the gold but if you say 'Jazz, you can go home now with any medal', I'll gladly take it."

READ MORE: Rahm and DeChambeau out of the Olympics, Tokyo field wide open

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