Sepp Straka Takes Early Olympic Lead For Austria

Austria's Sepp Straka holds a narrow lead after a low scoring day one at Kasumigaseki Country Club

Sepp Straka Takes Early Olympic Lead For Austria
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Austria's Sepp Straka holds a narrow lead after a low scoring day one at Kasumigaseki Country Club

Sepp Straka Takes Early Olympic Lead For Austria

Austria's Sepp Straka leads the men's Olympic golf tournament after a weather-delayed opening round at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The relatively unknown US-based Austrian carded an eight-under-par 63 to lead by one from Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond.

Play was halted due to lightning mid-way through the round but all 60 players managed to finish in the Tokyo heat.

Leader Sepp Straka ranks 161st in the world and has found some incredible form after coming into the Olympics off the back of three consecutive missed cuts.

The 6'3" Austrian has played 20 times already this year, with two top-10s on the PGA Tour.

Straka made eight birdies in his bogey-free outing around Kasumigaseki's East Course as golf returned to the Olympics for only the second time since 1904.

Jazz Janewattananond was also bogey-free in his 64, one clear of Belgium's Thomas Pieters in third who made four birdies and an eagle two.

Pieters, without a victory since August 2019, holed out on the 11th from 126 yards on his way to a his six-under 65

Talented Thai Janewattananond is a genuine medal contender after a superb opening 64. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Thailand's Janewattananond is a former Asian Tour Order of Merit winner and has 10 wins in his home continent despite only being 25 years of age.

A medal for Jazz in the men's event would be huge for Thailand, which currently has a golden generation of female golfers including the Jutanugarn sisters, ANA Inspiration winner Patty Tavatanakit and LET Order of Merit leader Atthaya Thitikul.

The international leaderboard features 11 nations in the top eight and within four strokes of the lead as the tournament looks set to be a very closely-fought contest for gold, silver and bronze.

Team GB's Paul Casey is one of those inside the top eight at four-under-par, with Tommy Fleetwood three back at one-under after a double bogey at the 18th hole.

The top Americans so far are Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed at three-under, with Reed carding a fine 68 despite only arriving in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon after replacing Bryson DeChambeau.

Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is at two-under alongside four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa, who was favourite for gold leading into the event.

Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x