Graphene in spintronics is predominantly considered for spin current leads of high performance due to weak intrinsic spin-orbit coupling of the graphene π electrons. Externally induced large spin-orbit coupling opens the possibility of using graphene in active elements of spintronic devices such as the Das-Datta spin field-effect transistor. Here we show that Au intercalation at the graphene-Ni interface creates a giant spin-orbit splitting (~100 meV) of the graphene Dirac cone up to the Fermi energy. Photoelectron spectroscopy reveals the hybridization with Au 5d states as the source for this giant splitting. An ab initio model of the system shows a Rashba-split spectrum around the Dirac point of graphene. A sharp graphene-Au interface at the equilibrium distance accounts for only ~10 meV spin-orbit splitting and enhancement is due to the Au atoms in the hollow position that get closer to graphene and do not break the sublattice symmetry.