What: A field of 125 amateur golfers from 30 states and six foreign countries competing in a 72-hole tournament at the Country Club of Charleston.
Defending champion: Austin Langdale.
Schedule: Tee times 7:35 a.m.-2:03 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; field cut to low 60 and ties for Sunday with tee times running from 8 a.m.-10:10 a.m.
Some of the biggest golf news in recent years was the announcement that the game would be included at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the first time golf has been played in the Olympics since 1904.
Golf in Brazil
Golf in Brazil
Population: 198.7 million
Number of golfers: under 30,000
Number of courses: 108
Two competitors in this week's Azalea Invitational golf tournament at the Country Club of Charleston, Andre Tourinho and Luiz Jacintho, have their sights set on representing the host nation and growing the game at home.
They come from a country that is more than 100 times the size of South Carolina but has only 108 golf courses, about the same number of courses found along South Carolina's Grand Strand. Most of Brazil's golf courses are near Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, the respective hometowns of Tourinho and Jacintho.
The population of Brazil is just under 200 million, but recent stories about the Olympics peg the number of golfers at less than 30,000.
The country's version of Jack Nicklaus is Mario Gonzalez, who won the Brazil Open eight times, including seven times between 1946-55. U.S. golf fans would most likely recognize Angel Park, a Brazilian-American of Korean descent who was the 2007 LPGA rookie of the year but quit professional golf in 2010 because of physical and mental exhaustion.
Even with the addition of golf to the Rio Olympics, the country's main focus remains soccer, Jacintho said Wednesday before playing a practice round in Charleston.
"There was not much change, but at least you had some change," Jacintho said of the announcement golf was coming to the Rio Olympics. "They're building a golf course and trying to make some considerations. After the Olympics it will be a public course."
Tourinho said the new course - designed by Gil Hanse, who recently rebuilt Doral's Blue Monster in Miami - is expected to be playable late this year.
Tourinho played four years at Tulsa and graduated with a degree in communications. He lives in Bradenton, Fla. Jacintho played three seasons at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina before transferring to South Florida where he is majoring in engineering. Both are members of the Brazilian national golf team and are looking forward to the competition this week. Their most recent tournament was the South American Games, played in Santiago, Chile.
"I knew this tournament has a very good strength of field," Jacintho said. "We wanted to play in it so we can improve our world ranking, play against better players.
"Our expectations are like everyone here. Everyone expects to win and we have the same thoughts. I know if I perform my best I can win," Tourinho said.
Tourinho said the only tournament he has played in the Carolinas was the Cardinal Amateur in Greensboro, N.C., where he finished third. Jacintho has some fond memories of playing in Charleston when he was in college.
"My first college tournament was at Kiawah Island in 2010, Cougar Point. I lost in a playoff," Jacintho said.
The Brazilians are among 125 amateur golfers from 30 states and seven countries competing in the 72-hole tournament at the Country Club of Charleston.
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