British golfers take inspiration from Andy Murray
Justin Rose and Danny Willett mixing with Andy Murray and Jessica Ennis-Hill in Rio
Danny Willett of Great Britain lines up a putt during practice session. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters
Masters champion Willett and 2013 US Open winner Rose have been staying in the athletes’ village in Rio ahead of golf’s first appearance in the Games since 1904, with the men’s competition starting on Thursday.
And the British pair have enjoyed mixing with the likes of two-time Wimbledon champion Murray and heptathlon star Ennis-Hill, with Willett and his caddie Jonathan Smart even borrowing rackets from Murray and his brother Jamie for a game of tennis.
“It’s cool, a very cool experience,” said Willett. “I’m happy I kept the decision to come down and play and I’m very happy with my decision to stay in the Olympic Village, to get the full feeling of what goes into it, of how much the whole of Britain as a team comes together.
“It’s just an amazing experience to sit across from Andy Murray at breakfast and his brother Jamie is in the apartments, too. You chat a bit to them about things. You have breakfast with Jess Ennis-Hill in the morning . . . things that you normally wouldn’t be able to do.
“To be able to bring athletes from so many sports together, I think there is no downside to it.”
“You’re trying for yourself, aren’t you? I’d love for me and Rosey to get a gold and silver, but I’m not going to stand here and say I’d prefer Rosey to get a gold – it doesn’t work that way.”
While Willett did not get to Rio until Sunday, Rose arrived in time to walk in Friday’s opening ceremony. Meeting Murray also made an impression on the world number 12.
“I got to ride on the bus for an hour back to the athletes’ village with him, so it was good to catch up and just recount some stories and get some insights into his world and vice versa.”
The top four players in the world – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – all opted out of the Games due to health concerns, but Open champion Henrik Stenson, Sergio García and Martin Kaymer are among the 60-man field, which also includes a four-man United States team of Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler.
Stenson lifted his first major title with a record-breaking performance at Royal Troon and is favourite for gold, but said: “It’s a new week. The ball doesn’t know what we did at the Open, that’s for sure. It needs to be told again.
“Of course I’m here to try and bring home a medal for sure, hopefully the best one.
“Anyone around the world knows what a gold medal in the Olympics means, but not everyone knows what an Open Championship is.”