THE battle for the first golf gold medal in 112 years came down to the final hole at the Olympic Golf Course in Rio, with Team GB’s Justin Rose outlasting Swedish foe Henrik Stenson.
Playing together in the final group on Sunday, both players were at 15-under par ahead of their third shots into the par-5 18th green.
Stenson’s ball dug into the putting surface and spun back toward the front of the green, before the Englishman stiffed his pitch to two feet for a kick-in birdie.
The Swede couldn’t convert his testing birdie try, leaving Rose to mop up and sign for a closing round of 4-under 67 to win gold by two strokes.
“I took care of business the best way I could,” Rose told Golf Channel after the win.
“I knew Stenson wasn't going to give me much. I stayed focused. I was hungry for it."
The 2013 US Open champion has long been a supporter of golf’s inclusion in the Rio Games and was rewarded with hearing his country’s national anthem as he stood atop the podium.
"That was a very surreal moment,” said Rose.
“It's something you've witnessed on TV. To be out there was a bit of a 'wow' moment. Then, when the national anthem goes up, it makes you realise what it's all about.”
Stenson three-putted the final hole to settle for a round of 68, that score not enough to bridge the one-stroke deficit he faced heading into the final round.
After his heroic triumph at Royal Troon last month over Phil Mickelson for a maiden major championship, Stenson failed to replicate that sort of match play form in Rio.
"I didn't hit the best pitch on the last there. It was a good match, a good fight,” Stenson told Golf Channel.
“I played all right. I didn't play my best. I can't be too unhappy about this week.
"It was a great atmosphere on the course. It was a great match. We were trying our best to win it.
“Justin was the better player out there today. That's why he has a gold medal and I have a silver."
watch the final round highlights from rio:
The third member of the final group was Australian Marcus Fraser, but his quest for a place on the podium was dashed early in the final round.
Starting the day two strokes behind Stenson in outright third, four front nine bogeys slowed the New South Welshman’s momentum as his foes made a charge.
Despite five Sunday birdies Fraser was forced to settle for his second 1-over 72 of the weekend, slipping him to a share of fifth position.
Assuming the Australian’s place on the leaderboard in third was Matt Kuchar, the American claiming bronze thanks to a closing round of 8-under 63.
That score matched Fraser’s opening round effort, the duo now holding the men’s Olympic record until golf’s next scheduled foray into the Games in Tokyo in 2020.
Belgian Thomas Pieters was outright fourth at 9-under for the week, four strokes back of Kuchar, while Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat joined Fraser in a share of fifth.
Townsville’s Scott Hend finished at 1-over for the tournament in a share of 39th position, carding weekend rounds of 71.
walk the course with justin rose:
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