Had those British golfers who opted to avoid Olympic participation spent time in the company of Justin Rose, it seems their attitude towards Tokyo may have been entirely different. Mel Reid, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey were confirmed on Tuesday as Team GB’s golf quartet but attention surrounds those who turned down the opportunity. Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Georgia Hall and Charley Hull made plain – albeit for varying reasons – they would skip the Games.
Fleetwood revealed conversations with Rose, who won gold in 2016, affected his mindset. “What came from that was the surprise of how proud Justin was and the emotions he felt from winning,” Fleetwood said. “He spoke to me about it a lot. I just think 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 seeing him and watching him talk about it.”
The challenge for the class of 2021, then, is to try to emulate Rose’s Rio success story. “You’re not just playing as an individual,” Fleetwood said. “You’re playing for the nation. I don’t think we would see that as pressure. We would see that as a proud moment and something that we’re really, really excited about. It is fantastic that we’ve had a gold medallist for our sport, and I’m sure we would all just absolutely love to keep that going.
“The football has been great so far and I hope that carries on. The Olympics, whenever I turn it on, I find myself watching sports I have no idea about and I have no idea about the rules but I’m jumping up and down in the living room supporting Great Britain and it’s very, very cool. We’ve had an extra year waiting for this Olympics, and it’s such an amazing occasion and it’s great being with some of the guys that people are going to watch on TV, inspiring the nation and keeping people feeling good.”
Ewart Shadoff insisted it was a “no brainer” to accept the Team GB invitation that was triggered by Hall’s decision. Ewart Shadoff and Reid have a golf connection that stretches back to their days as juniors. “We grew up playing together,” Reid said. “She’s trying to beat me and I’m trying to beat her but if I don’t pick up the medal, I absolutely want her to pick up a medal. It will be a unique experience. I think it will be really, really cool.”
Robert MacIntyre, meanwhile, is already making the long drive from the Scottish Open in East Lothian to Kent for the Open Championship next week. MacIntyre was forced to sit out the Irish Open last week after being identified as a contact of someone who had tested positive for Covid-19 after his flight home from the US Open.
“I’m going to jump in that car and drive down, simple as that,” the world No 51 said. “I’ve got to take no risks now.”