Gold medallist Justin Rose, one of the main drawcards at this week’s SMBC Singapore Open, will start an exciting new chapter in his life later this year when he opens the defence of his Olympic title on his 40th birthday.
Rose, a Major winner and former world number one, talked of the milestone moment on the eve of his 2020 debut at Sentosa Golf Club.
“That’s right, my 40th birthday is on Thursday, July 30, the first round of the Olympics in Tokyo. It’ll be a nice birthday present,” said Rose, who won the gold medal at Rio 2016 when golf made its Olympic return after a 112-year absence.
“It’s going to be a week where I’m not going to be celebrating my birthday, maybe just a slice of cake in the evening. But I’ll be deferring celebrations till much much later. That’s going to be an interesting moment for sure. My 40th birthday is a milestone event but at the same time, I have got to be able to keep my focus on the job in hand. It’s going to be an interesting week.”
Rose is currently riding high in the standings for the Tokyo Olympic golf, which will be played at Kasumigaseki Country Club, but is taking nothing for granted and would love to start his 2020 campaign with a win and take another step towards his Japan dream.
“Obviously for me, 2020 Tokyo is a huge goal. There’s no given right to be back there. Defending is obviously my goal, to play well this year and to make as many points as possible to secure my position in Team GB, is very much on the top of my list,” said the world number nine.
“Defending the gold is obviously very much on top of my list and the main championships and that is really how I build my schedule.”
Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, a crowd favourite at the SMBC Singapore Open, has also set playing in the Tokyo Olympics as one of his main goals this year.
Hideki Matsuyama and Shugo Imahira top the list of Japan’s Olympic hopefuls at the moment with Ishikawa keen to make up ground.
“I hope I can improve my game and play well in the next six months and get into the Olympics,” said Ishikawa, who is the third highest ranked Japanese player in the world ranking at 83rd.
“I would love to be part of the Olympics and also I would love to see Tiger Woods at the Olympics.”
Woods and bronze medallist Matt Kuchar, another of the star turns at the SMBC Singapore Open, are out of the placings for the American team at the moment.
Kuchar is currently 24th in the world with 12 other Americans ahead of him on the list. The qualification period for Japan ends on June 22. If things ended now the United States representatives would be Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay.
“I’m hugely proud to have been part of an Olympics, to be able to call myself an Olympian,” said Kuchar.
“And I’m hugely proud to be a medallist at an Olympics. It’s definitely a goal of mine to be part of the Olympics in 2020 in Japan. I’m still amazed at the scale, the scope of just what the Olympics means to people, how big the Olympics is.”
As it stands, Henrik Stenson, silver medallist in 2016 after finishing two shots adrift of Rose, will be part of the Sweden team again.
“We (myself and Matt Kuchar) got second and third place and we all look back at the great memories from Rio and want to make some new ones in Tokyo this coming summer,” said the world number 26.
“There’s no guarantee that we’ll be there but we’ll give it another shot. It’s in the summertime where we all have a busy schedule.”