Stenson approaches reptile on Rio golf course
Swede trails leader Rose by single shot
Final round of men's event on Sunday
The world’s leading golfers cited fears over the Zika virus when they opted to skip the Rio 2016 Olympics.
However, wildlife of a larger size than mosquitoes threatened to disrupt the gold-medal hopes of one title contender during Saturday’s third round of the men’s competition.
Henrik Stenson had joked before the Games that he was more worried by bears than insects bearing the virus – which can cause birth defects – and he showed his courage when he approached what was reportedly a basking a caiman that had strayed onto the course, then poked it with his club.
Video footage posted on social showed the Swede move towards the reptile – caimans are related to crocodiles and alligators – with club outstretched before quickly stepping back and moving on.
Golfers have been sharing the Olympic Golf Course with a variety of wildlife this week.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia and American Bernd Wiesberger were pictured looking on at a stray capybara on Friday. Meanwhile, rumors have abounded of the various types of snakes, including a giant boa constrictor, that reside in and around the golf course.
“I don’t know what’s true and what’s not,” Patrick Reed of the US was quoted as saying by USA Today earlier in the week. “I heard there’s coral snakes out here. If there’s a boa constrictor, I’ll fight one of those before I’ll fight a coral snake.”
“The good thing is how many people we have around here. I think a boa constrictor, if you were to have any kind of encounter with a snake like that, you have enough people here where you could figure out a way to fight it off.”
World No. 5 Stenson, who won his first grand slam at last month’s British Open, is the highest-ranked player in the men’s field after Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy pulled out.
He carded a three-under-par 68 Saturday to move into second position – one shot behind Great Britain’s Justin Rose.
Rose, who shot the first hole-in-one in Olympic history during Thursday’s opening round, posted a 65 to head to the top of the leaderboard.
Overnight leader Marcus Fraser dropped back to third place after a disappointing one-over-par 72 left the Australian two strokes behind Stenson.
At stake is golf’s first gold medal since 1904, when it was last an Olympic sport.
“It feels good to be out there with Marcus again and Justin, a good friend and Ryder Cup partner, and to battle it out,” Stenson told reporters.
“It would be great to win a medal, we have been waiting a long time. I came here to give myself a chance and it looks like that way.”
World No. 6 Bubba Watson of the USA was tied for fourth with Sweden’s David Lingmerth and Argentine Emiliano Grillo on six under, six shots off the lead.