Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson went at it all day on Sunday at the 2016 Rio Olympics as the International Olympic Committee handed out the first medals in golf in 112 years. After taking the most famous duel of the season at Royal Troon to win his first major championship, Stenson ceded the rematch to Rose as the two fought back and forth to take hold of the tournament.
Both players went out in 32, but Rose was nearly flawless coming home with just one bogey to touch off a 67 in the final round. The tournament got pretty tense near the end, however, as Rose notched a win on his sixth different continent (coming for you, Antarctica!).
It came down to the very last hole as the two golfers were tied at 15 under going to the par-5 18th. Both hit their second shots short and to the left of the green, but Rose got up and down with an absolutely brilliant chip and putt for birdie to get to 16 under as Stenson made a three-putt bogey to fall to 14 under.
"It was always going to be a tough match," Stenson told Golf Channel. "I didn't hit the best pitch on the last there. It was a good match, a good fight. 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."
Rose celebrated on the 18th green like he'd just taken a major championship as players have spoken all week at how surprised they've been at how much this tournament has meant to them. The medal ceremony overwhelmed Rose.
"That was a very surreal moment," Rose told Golf Channel. "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 realize what it's all about. It made me feel like we were doing something other than representing the game of golf. We were representing the wider team we were traveling with.
"This is my first taste of an Olympic games. The scale of it blows me away. It's been a huge honor to be part of the whole Games."
Rose certainly gave that crowd a show early in the week with his ace on Thursday. Then he gave them even more on Sunday with his 67 to win the first gold medal since 1904. This was not necessarily unexpected, but Rose has not had a particularly Rose-like 2016. He was injured earlier in the season and said on Sunday he didn't feel like he had his best stuff at the majors.
"I felt very prepared this week," Rose told Golf Channel. "I had one eye on Rio for sure. I ticked all the right boxes. I focused on marginal gains, and took care of business the best way I could. I knew Stenson wasn't going to give me much. I stayed focused. I was hungry for it."
It was clear it meant a lot to him, and he performed like it. The ace. The 67 on Sunday. The up-and-down for the gold medal. It was a tremendous performance from a great champion in a fascinating event. I'm not sure you could have asked for a better introduction for golf back into the Olympics.
- 3. Matt Kuchar (-13)
- T8. Sergio Garcia (-7)
- T8. Bubba Watson (-7)
- T11. Patrick Reed (-6)
- T15. Martin Kaymer (-5)
- T37. Danny Willett (E)
- T37. Rickie Fowler (E)
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