Rio Games as big as a soccer World Cup for Grillo

Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:21pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - For Argentina's Emiliano Grillo, the prospect of representing his country at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is the closest thing he can imagine to being a soccer player at a World Cup.

Golf is set to return to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century and Grillo is itching to be one of the competitors vying for glory in global sport's showpiece where he will be watched and supported by scores of family and friends.

"It's pretty nice," Grillo, 23, told Reuters with a broad smile when asked about golf being played at the Aug. 5-21 Rio Games. "It's a big, big thing. It's like a World Cup for football.

"It will be that big, and getting a medal for our country is the biggest thing we can do.

"And it's in Brazil, right next to my home," he grinned. "I could probably drive up there but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to have a lot of friends and family supporting me there."

Grillo, the world number 35 who is already guaranteed a spot at the Olympics, hails from Resistencia in soccer-mad Argentina, a city which is roughly 1,500 miles (2,413 km) by road from Rio.

Despite the relative proximity of Resistencia to the Venue Reserva de Marapendi layout which will host the golf competition at the Summer Games, Grillo has not yet seen the course.

"I've never been there before and I'm not going to have any time to do that until the Olympics," he said. "So I'm just going to have to do everything in that week to get it right, with my preparation.   Continued...

Mar 19, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Emiliano Grillo of Argentina hits out of the bunker on the seventh hole during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Master Card at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports