RIO-BOUND: Scott Hend of Australia in action.
RIO-BOUND: Scott Hend of Australia in action. Kin Cheung

Golfers thrilled to make Olympic team

GOLF: The reluctance some of Australia’s top golfers have shown to compete at the Rio Olympics is not shared by the four players making the journey.

Scott Hend, Marcus Fraser, Minjee Lee and Su Oh were officially selected and could not be prouder to wear the Australian Olympic uniform.

Ranked 81st and 86th in the world respectively, 42-year-old Hend and 37-year-old Fraser were picked after the higher-ranked Jason Day (1), Adam Scott (8) and Marc Leishman (45) made themselves unavailable, as did Matt Jones (84).

Lee and Oh, ranked 14th and 41st respectively and both aged 20, earned their spots as the highest-ranked women, dashing the hopes of 41-year-old Karrie Webb (59), who was desperate to wear the green and gold and chase an Olympic medal to go with her seven major wins.

Korean-born Oh said she and her family were thrilled.

“When my parents brought my big sister, my little brother and me to Australia when I was eight years old, I didn’t even play golf,” she said.

“They could never in their wildest dreams have imagined one of us would represent Australia in the Olympic Games. It’s a dream come true for my whole family.”

Lee, who won her second LPGA Tour tournament in April in just her second year as a professional, was ecstatic to be picked.

“I can’t wait to represent Australia in the Olympics and think it is the highest honour that you can ever have,” she said.

“Just being among all the amazing athletes will be pretty cool and the atmosphere of the Olympics will be a special thing.”

Fraser described his selection as a dream come true.

“Obviously with golf being back (in the Olympics) for the first time in over 100 years it is pretty amazing and it’s going to be a great week and I can’t wait to represent our great country,” he said.

Hend promised to give his all.

“I’ll go to Brazil and represent Australia the best way that I can ... I’m looking forward to pulling on the green and gold as it will be something different,” he said.

Lee and Oh were part of the Australian team that won the World Amateur Championship in 2014.

The men’s tournament starts on day six of the Games, August 11, with 60 players taking on the 72-hole strokeplay format.

The 60 women will tee off on day 12 of the Games, August 17, to start their 72-hole competition.

Ian Baker-Finch is overseeing the team and has high hopes.

“I know for a fact that all my team members will be performing to the best of their abilities and with just a little bit of luck I believe we can bring home the gold for Australia,” he said.

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