The Sunday Post (Dundee)
Justin’s success proves golden for golf’s return
AFTER all the hoo-ha ahead of golf’s return to the Olympics, it was great to see it prove such a success.
The previous pessimism and negativity was completely forgotten as soon as the 60 players teed it up in the first round of the Games proper.
Tim Finchem, George O’Grady and Peter Dawson, along with Mike Davies from the USGA, the power brokers of golf, worked hard to have golf included in the Olympics and bring the sport to a worldwide audience.
Despite the lukewarm enthusiasm from a few of the top players, it must be considered an unequivocal success.
The sport is bigger than any individual. I am sure we can look forward to no raft of call-offs from the likes of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, or Rory McIlroy for Tokyo in 2020, where golf is a national pastime.
In fairness to McIlroy, he very quickly sent Justin a congratulatory message on his gold medal.
So we must assume he did watch a bit of the action on TV – contrary to what he said a few weeks ago!
The purpose-built linkstype course, designed by Americans Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott, was ready and exceeded expectations.
The crowds also proved to be bigger than anyone could have anticipated.
Every player in Rio was anxious to try to get their hands on a coveted medal for their country.
None more so than Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open Champion, and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, the emphatic winner of The Open at Royal Troon just a few weeks ago.
Both embraced the spirit of the Games and welcomed the opportunity to represent their country at sport’s greatest competition.
Paired together, along with Australian Marcus Fraser, Rose and Stenson went head-to-head in a shoot-out of true Olympian proportions.
I was fortunate to watch most of the final round last Sunday from the comfort of my armchair.
It very much reminded me of the final round at Troon when Stenson and Phil Mickelson battled their way to a stunning climax in their pursuit of the Claret Jug.
The Swede ultimately prevailed that day. But there was to be no stopping Justin in Brazil.
Level after 71 holes, it was definitely a case of who would blink first, in a finale befitting of a Major.
The final hole is a par-5 of 571 yards and was out of reach – even for these mighty hitters – against the wind.
Henrik’s resultant weak pitch from just short of the green gave Justin an opening and he showed his class with an exquisite pitch to just 18 inches from the hole to seal victory and that famous gold medal for Team GB.
Both players hugged each other and I cannot think of two nicer people in any sport, far less golf.