By Jay Betsill
As many of golf’s biggest names including Day, McIlroy and Spieth were bowing out of the opportunity to represent their country in the Olympics in Rio, 36 year-old former U.S. Open champion Justin Rose had the event circled on his calendar.
After all, it had been 112 years since golf was contested in the Olympic Games and the finale was worth the wait as Rose and reigning Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson dueled down the finish, not for millions in prize money, but for an Olympic gold medal.
The gold medal came down to the final hole as two of golf’s gladiators were tied for the lead on the No. 18 tee box. Rose would birdie the final hole and Stenson, knowing he needed a birdie from 23 feet out, saw his putt glide by the hole.
The birdie gave him a 4-under 67 and a two-shot victory to win golf’s first gold medal since 1904 in St. Louis.
“The reality is incredible. The reality hasn’t sunk in,” Rose said. “The whole week, I’ve been so focused. I’ve been so into it. I’ve been up for it. I’ve been just so determined, I suppose, to represent Team GB as best as I could. And it was just the most magical week.”
For his efforts in Rio, Stenson won the silver medal.
“Great experience. Happy to leave with a medal,” Stenson said. “I didn’t play my best but I played good enough to be up in contention all week. I think I did both myself and my country proud.”
American Matt Kuchar rode a final round 63 to capture the bronze medal.
“I’ve never been so happy with a third-place finish in my life,” Kuchar said.
The other Americans in the 60-player Olympics golf field were Bubba Watson (tied for 8th), Patrick Reed (tied for 11th) and Rickie Fowler (tied for 37th).
Meanwhile, the PGA Tour visited Silvis, IL for the John Deere Classic at the TPC Deere Run.
Ryan Moore was 22-under to win by two strokes over Ben Martin. The win was Moore’s fifth on the PGA Tour.
Next up is the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC. Notables in the field at Sedgefield Country Club include Rickie Fowler, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Danny Lee, Ryan Moore, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Justin Thomas and Jimmy Walker.