Adilson da Silva

Brazilian seeks rousing return to homeland

Adilson da Silva hopes golf's re-entry into the Olympics after 112 years will popularise the sport in Brazil.
Adilson da Silva hopes golf's re-entry into the Olympics after 112 years will popularise the sport in Brazil. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Golf is set to make a return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this year, more than a century since the last time it was included in 1904. It is a big thing to golfers around the world, but to a few individuals the event in Brazil is additionally special. Nicholas Tan finds out why.

He currently resides in a different continent, but Brazilian golfer Adilson da Silva will be hoping for a happy homecoming in August at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

The 44-year-old, who moved to South Africa from his birthplace Santa Cruz do Sul to pursue his golfing aspirations when he was just 19, is set to have the privilege of being Brazil's sole male golfer at the Games.

Being host country for the Olympics, Brazil are guaranteed two slots in golf, one for the men's and one for the women's event. As it stands, da Silva, who is 342nd in the Official World Golf Ranking will be the male representative, being 38 places ahead of his closest compatriot Lucas Lee.

The top 60 in the International Golf Federation Olympic Rankings as at July 11 will qualify for the main event and da Silva currently occupies that final spot.

However, the Brazilian, who plays on the Southern Africa- based Sunshine Tour, said: "The way the world rankings work, you can jump a lot of spots if you have a very good week. I still have to play good golf until the deadline."

Da Silva, who has 12 Sunshine Tour wins since turning professional in 1994, added: "It's a nice big coincidence for golf to start back in the Olympics and be hosted by your home country. It adds that extra bonus, the cherry on top."

Yet the veteran golfer is not thinking about a medal as golf makes a historic return to the Olympics after a century away. Instead, he simply hopes that representing Brazil will popularise the sport in the football-mad nation.

He said: "That's the problem of golf being in the Olympics because people in Brazil don't know what it's about. I think it (representing Brazil) will help to create awareness, if it's televised."

With facilities for 15,000 spectators at the course, after the Games it will be open to the public for at least 20 years with the aim of promoting the sport. And da Silva hopes that with the Olympics in Brazil, there will be increased golf viewership.

He said: "The people who don't know golf are going to be watching it and creating a lot of interest. I hope to see golf getting better after the Olympics, along with more facilities and courses."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2016, with the headline 'Brazilian seeks rousing return to homeland'. Print Edition | Subscribe