Rio Olympics golf course 'surprises' in test event

By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
Miriam Nagl
Miriam Nagl: "The course is equal to the Doral course in Miami"

The Rio 2016 course is in "surprisingly" good condition, says Brazilian golfer Miriam Nagl who took part in the first test event this week.

Nagl was one of only nine home players to compete in Tuesday's event on the new links course after international golfers declined invitations, with many pointing to clashing schedules.

"I never expected it to be so well developed," the 35-year-old said.

"I would say it's equal to a good course like the Doral in Miami."

She added: "Apart from the bunkers, which have too much sand, I have to say the course is in great shape.

"It suits a player using mid and long irons to approach the greens. The second shot will matter."

Rafael Becker
Brazilian Rafael Becker drives off during Aquece Rio test event

The Reserva de Marapendi was designed by American Gil Hanse, who renovated Donald Trump's Doral and The Country Club in Massachusetts, which will host the 2022 US Open.

Construction of the coastal course in Barra - three miles from the athletes' village - began back in March 2013.

The layout was supposed to be ready to be inspected in 2014, but land ownership and environmental issues meant construction was held up.

Another recent concern has been mosquitoes, which have been largely responsible for spreading the Zika virus in Brazil and other countries in South America.

Alexandre Rocha
Alexandre Rocha finds his way out of a bunker at the Reserva de Marapendi course

Nagl, who grew up in Germany but is hoping to qualify for Brazil, said: "My mum in Berlin gave me some mosquito spray before I left for Brazil.

"However, I didn't see one mosquito. I was surprised because it was so hot and humid.

"It will much cooler by the time of the Olympics in August."

Sixty players will compete over 72 holes of strokeplay in both the men's and women's events in Rio.

Golfers in the top 15 of the world rankings will automatically be eligible, although no more than four players from any one country can take part.

International Golf Federation director Antony Scanlon said this week he was adamant the top three men's players Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy would compete at the Games,external-link. And last month, world number one women's player Lydia Ko said the Olympics is her "top priority".external-link

Despite a no-show from those golfers at Tuesday's test event, organisers were not concerned about participation levels come the time of the event, which begins on 11 August.

"I have no doubt the best golfers are coming," said Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 local organising committee.

"That happened when tennis was included. The Olympic competition is different from all the others they play every year."

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