Justin Rose of Great Britain won the first Olympic gold medal in golf since 1904 Sunday, after holding off Sweden’s Henrik Stenson. The two traded shots throughout the day in a tight finish to men’s golf in Rio de Janeiro.
The title came after a day of great shots and near-misses for both Rose and Stenson, who played in the final group.
With the 18th-hole grandstands in his sights, Rose led by a stroke on the 15th – but he narrowly missed a putt on that would have kept pressure on Stenson, leaving him to watch as Stenson sank his own short putt.
They were tied when the two reached the 18th — and that’s where Rose’s shot for the green landed just feet from the pin, drawing cheers from the gallery. Rose recorded a 4. In contrast, Stenson was unable to hole a long putt, and his next attempt also drifted off, leaving him to book a 6 and take the silver medal.
Matt Kuchar of the U.S. held on for the bronze medal, after a meteoric rise that left him with a solid third-place finish. Recording a field-low 8 under par on the day, Kuchar played in an earlier group at the Olympic Golf Course – a links-style course that was constructed especially for these Summer Olympics.
In the final tally, Rose was 16 under par for the tournament, followed by Stenson at 14 under and Kuchar at 13 under.
As for other Americans, Bubba Watson tied for eighth after going 1-under today, while Patrick Reed shot a 7-under to get into a tie for 11th place. Rickie Fowler shot 3 over, for a tie in 37th place.
With the men’s final today, the women’s tournament will begin next week – and as the final group of male players made their turn on the back nine, several female golfers were already on the course, trying to get a feel for its manicured grass and expansive – and often very deep – bunkers.
In Brazil, a country not known for its love of golf, a large and enthusiastic gallery followed the leading players around the course, cheering their tee shots and groaning when their putts went awry.
By the afternoon, the grandstand at the 18th hole was near capacity, and the audience there welcomed the returning players with cheers – particularly when they holed tricky putts to close out their Olympics.