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Golf is a new sport at Brazil 2016 and arrives in Rio amid a lot of controversy.

The world’s top four golfers — Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson — have all withdrawn from the competition, citing health concerns over the zika virus.

The field has been somewhat depleted but that does not mean the competition is diminished and golf betting fans should view this tournament as another major for the year.

So how does golf at the games work? And who are the favourites to win a gold medal in Brazil? Let’s take a look at Golf at rio 2016.

Golf at Brazil 2016

Golf was successfully chosen to become an official sport at the games in 2009 when the IOC members voted to reintroduce the sport that had last graced the stage in 1904. It was a controversial choice, with many arguing a gold medal should be the pinnacle of the sport in question — and who would claim this event is bigger than the Masters or the Open Championship?

But golf has got its chance to shine in Rio at the newly-built Reserva de Marapendi outside of the city. The competition will run over 72 holes in four days, just like a major on the PGA and European Tour. This individual stroke play means competitors from the same nation could end up on the podium together.

However, unlike the majors, the top three positions cannot be tied. So, a three-hole playoff will determine medal winners in the event of even scores for first, second and third after four days.

The men’s event takes place on 11-14 August, with the women’s round coming 17-20 August.

Best bets for gold at Brazil 2016

With the top four and many other big names not playing this summer the competition is very wide. Sweden’s Henrik Stenson is justifiably favourite at 4.33 to win a gold medal after claiming the Open Championship crown at Royal Troon in July. Stenson is a confident, aggressive player and is hitting the ball well this season. He is also one of Sweden’s few medal hopes and so a lot of expectation will be on his shoulders from fans back home.

America’s Rickie Fowler is another contender at 7.00 and the conditions — with a high temperature of 24c in Rio during August — could favour the Californian. For all of Fowler’s talents he is missing a major title and gold could provide the springboard he needs to go that step further on the PGA Tour.

The British have Justin Rose (8.00) and Danny Willett (17.00) as their two serious contenders and Team GB are determined to prove London 2012 was no flash in the pan. If either of these men can medal — and Willett especially, considering his shock rise to fame — then they will be lauded as heroes back home.

But for the shrewd golf punter a local player may be the best option here. Bar the off escapade the Mexico, many of the North American and European golfers will rarely play a round in Brazil.

So, don’t be too surprised if Brazil’s own Adilson Da Silva is in contention come the final round. He is 301.00 to win gold and probably not going to get close but the conditions could suit him on his home ground and he may place.

Argentine Fabian Gomez, meanwhile, is seen as a challenger after emerging as a late bloomer to this sport. The 37-year-old gained entry to his first major only last year at the PGA Championship and competed at the Masters and Open in 2016. Gomez’s two PGA Tour wins have come within 14 months of Rio and he won the Hawaii Open on a playoff against Brandt Sneaker after carding -20. You can back Gomez to win gold at 126.00.

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