Rose Captures Gold and Makes Everyone Jealous
By Peter Santo
Most of the top players in the world, Rory Mcilroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, just to name a few, didn’t go, and they’re probably wishing they did. Olympic golf in the Rio Olympics was largely a test run, to see if golf could succeed as an Olympic sport, and in my mind there’s no question it can.
This year’s Olympic golf tournament had everything you could ask for, two top ten players battling it out for the gold medal, a championship caliber golf course, and a rowdy Sunday crowd making things feel like the final round of a major championship.
What started off as a question mark for the world of golf quickly turned into the experience of a lifetime, getting to watch and hang out with other athletes, and just taking in the Olympic games. It only got better once the actual tournament started.
Some were questioning exactly how much this would mean to the players. Would it mean as much as the majors? As much as a regular Tour event? I think Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, and Matt Kuchar answered those questions and then some.
Kuchar started the day on the fringes of contention but put together a flawless round of 8 under 63, one of the best rounds of his career to earn the bronze medal. After the round there was no question what it meant to him, “I’ve never been so happy to finish in third place before,” said Kuchar.
The battle for the gold medal came down to two of the game’s best, and it came down to the 72nd hole, a long par 5. Stenson and Rose were both in position to make birdie after excellent second shots, but Stenson left his third shot some 20 feet short, leaving the door open for Rose. Rose meanwhile played one of the best shots of his career, an exquisite pitch shot to two feet, setting up a tap in for the win. Stenson got aggressive with his putt, had it slide by, and that was that.
Rose’s reaction to his victory is what the Olympics are all about, the huge fist pump, smiles and hugs all around, just a jubilant celebration. All in all it was a tournament that likely made those who chose not to participate wishing they had.
Golf will be one of the sports the IOC will vote on whether to keep it as part of the Games long term, I was on the fence before about whether golf belonged in the Olympics, but I saw all I needed to see. Golf can succeed as an Olympic sport, and thank you to Justin Rose for saving Olympic golf.