By Thomas Dodd
- GBs Justin Rose wins Olympic Golf Gold in Rio
- Rose’s score of 16-under par beats Open Champion Henrik Stenson by two strokes
- Golf included on Olympic roster for first time in 112 years.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Englishman Justin Rose became the first golfer for 112 years to win Gold at an Olympic Games following a two stroke victory in Rio on Sunday.
American Matt Kucher tied the low round of the week, firing an eight under 63 to finish in the bronze medal position on minus 13, one shot adrift of Stenson.
Britain’s other representative in Rio Danny Willett struggled on the final day an ended up in a tie for 37th on even par.
The 2016 Masters Champion was joined on that number by American Rickie Fowler, while compatriot Bubba Watson had another difficult day with the putter and finished five shots behind the medals on eight under par.
But in truth, only two men were ever a factor on the first final day of an Olympic Golf event since 1904.
It may have been a strokeplay format, but from the moment Rose and Stenson teed off in the final group alongside first round leader Marcus Fraser from Australia, the day had all the hallmarks of a straight out matchplay between the two European Ryder Cup stars.
A series of wayward drives at the start of the back nine had Rose scrambling for pars, and while his partner was finding the middle of the short grass he couldn’t take advantage on the greens.
After trading blows for the duration of the back half of the course, the pair came to the par five 18th level at 15-under. Both found the fairway, and both played the perfect second to leave a simple pitch to a tight but relatively exposed green.
With a play-off looking a certainty it was the Swede who blinked first. The approach from no more than 50 yards landed 30 feet short before Rose, who also recorded the first ever hole in one at Olympics earlier in the week, punched low into the Rio horizon and pulled the string to make the ball stop two feet from the hole.
With a silver already guaranteed given the gap back to Kuchar, Stenson rifled his birdie try eight feet by and when he missed the comebacker for par the Gold medal all of a sudden had a Rosey glow to it.
Many of the 60 competitors in the field had revealed as the week went on just how much the idea of standing on the top step of the podium with their country’s national anthem playing in the background had started to appeal to them, and that was clear from the winner’s reaction.
A fist pump, and a shirt grab told the world all it needed to know. Who said Olympic Gold meant nothing to a Golfer?
Many of the world’s top 10 chose to skip the event, whether it be down to the threat of Zika or the secret admission that Golf should not have been included in the first place, but as Rose strolled off the final green on Sunday afternoon to the adulation and applause of the galleries you could bet your life that many of the games biggest names would have wanted to be in the Englishman’s shoes.
Olympic Men’s Golf Final Leaderboard (Rio)
-16 Justin Rose (Great Britain)
-14 Henrik Stenson (Sweden)
-13 Matt Kuchar (USA)
-9 Thomas Pieters (Belgium)
-8 Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spain), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand), Marcus Fraser (Australia)
-7 Sergio Garcia (Spain), Bubba Watson (USA), Emiliano Grillo (Argentina)
-6 Patrick Reed (USA)
-5 Seamus Power (Ireland)
-3 Padraig Harrington (Ireland)
E Rickie Fowler (USA), Danny Willett
+1 Adilson Da Silva (Brazil)
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