STOKE Park president Sir Matthew Pinsent believes Justin Rose can prove the doubters wrong about golf in the Olympics.

Despite several top golfers, including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, opting to miss the event, Pinsent has welcomed the return of the sport to the Rio showpiece.

He is pinning his hopes on a fellow Brit to strike gold, and show that golf should view the Olympic tournament alongside the majors in the sport.

“I was always a fan of golf coming in,” said the British Olympic legend and four-time gold medallist. “All you need is a Justin Rose to win a gold medal for Team GB and say ‘this is up there with the best experience in golf’.

“He has already said how proud he is to be representing Team GB, and the rest of the team will embrace someone like him, who gets involved.

“It’s a unique experience to pull on an international shirt with the Olympic rings on it. It’s totally different to anything else.”

After he and Sir Steve Redgrave did so much to portray the Olympics in such a positive light, Pinsent believes golf can do the same for a new generation in other parts of the world.

“Although the Olympics is incredibly strong in Europe, the Commonwealth and USA, it struggles in Africa, South America and Asia, to a great extent. For example, the Olympics is tiny in India. They want to grow into areas where they’re not as strong, so golf is interesting.

“It’s a relatively small number of golfers but they could spark a movement in Fiji, Indonesia or Japan – an area where they otherwise might not reach.

“It’s a tactical thing. You can look at whether the Olympics is the biggest thing in the sport.

“One of the hurdles men’s golf now faces is that they suggested it would be the biggest thing in the sport, but they’ve had some of the top players pull out.

“The women in golf have not got a problem, all of their top players are going. It’s men’s golf that has got the problem at the moment.

Pinsent drew comparisons with the reintroduction of tennis back in 1988, which has now developed and attracts all of the top players in the world.

He said: “Tennis was awful when it first came back in. The huge names of the sport didn’t go. It’s taken a while for it to grow but look at London where Andy Murray won and all of the top names were there.

“I don’t think Andy stayed in the Olympic Village, and nobody expects him to share a room with someone from modern pentathlon or anything like that, but he saw it as important and so does Justin Rose.”