Justin Rose shot a final round 67 at Reserva de Marapendi to finish up on 16-under par to claim gold for Team Great Britain, with Open champion Henrik Stenson a further two shots back with American Matt Kuchar claiming bronze.
After all the talk before this event with a number of the world’s top players pulling out, Rose came to Rio dreaming about Olympic gold. After a 112-year interval for golf to return to the Olympics, Justin Rose gave a performance worth the wait.
"It feels absolutely incredible," Rose said. "I was on that last green, just sort of pinching myself and taking myself back to the quote that I had given about the Olympics all along - I hope my resume one day reads 'multiple major champion and Olympic gold medallist’.
The result was only decided on the final hole of four rounds, after Rose chipped to within three feet to give himself a shot at a vital birdie. Stenson three putted for bogey before Rose tapped home the winning putt and raised his fist in the air before embracing Stenson before finding his family. Rose’s victory was the first Olympic gold medal since George Lyon won at the St Louis games in 1904.
"The whole week I've been so focused. I've been so into it. I've been so up for it. I've been just so determined to represent Team GB as best as I could, and it was just the most magical week, it really was.," said Rose.
Stenson, who had been hampered by a back problem throughout the week, refused to use the injury as an excuse and took some solace in a solid week’s work.
"I had a bit of an issue, my thoracic spine locked up after 13 holes and put me out of rhythm a little, but I was still there at the end and it came down to whoever made birdie down the last," he said.
"I'm pleased with my performance. When you're in good position to try and win, you always kind of feel a little disappointed afterwards. But at the same time, there are some pretty good consolation prizes."
Matt Kuchar of the United States closed with a 63 to win the bronze. If there were any doubts about the importance of the Olympics, Kuchar put those doubts firmly to bed.
"I've never been so happy with a third-place finish in my life," Kuchar said.
Much Ado About Nothing
In the end, some of golf’s biggest stars – including the top four in the world – withdrew for their own reasons that varied from security to the potential risks associated with the Zika virus. Golf pushed hard to get this sport back into the Olympics. On Sunday evening, Bubba Watson described the week as “one of the best golf trips I’ve ever been on.” Watson, the two-time Masters® winner, had planned to stay in private housing until moving into the Olympic Village on Tuesday because he didn't want to miss out on the experience.
The 60 players who came to represent their country showed them who had decided to skip the event what they were missing out on.
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