Rose and Stenson's Olympic duel echoed Swede's epic contest at Royal Troon
Whoever wrote the script for the final day at The 145th Open penned another thriller in Rio as the men’s event concluded in a similarly exhilarating fashion on Sunday.
Great Britain’s Justin Rose and the Champion Golfer of the Year, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, took to the first tee at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course separated by just one shot.
The final round in Rio delivered an outstanding head-to-head contest between the two Major champions and with memories still vivid of Stenson’s epic duel with Phil Mickelson over the Ayrshire links last month.
It seemed that Stenson might repeat his victory at The Open when he edged in front after Rose dropped at shot at the 13th but the pair continued to trade birdies and bogeys and the scene was set for a final hole showdown.
On a sun-drenched day at the Olympic Golf Course, and in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,000, Stenson and Rose took the fight for gold to the 18th green. The packed grandstand, transformed into a noisy sporting amphitheatre, watched spellbound as Rose played a delightful chip from the side of the green to leave him with a tap-in for birdie, and a final round of 67, sealing the historic victory.
Stenson, who needed to hole a 25-footer of his own to force a play-off, three-putted, and the first Olympic golf competition since 1904 had a new champion in the form of Great Britain’s, Justin Rose. Stenson secured the Olympic silver medal while Matt Kuchar of the United States claimed the bronze medal after a course record-equalling last round of 63.
Rose finished with four rounds in the sixties and his closing 67 secured the gold medal with a 16-under-par total of 268. Stenson finished in second two shots behind on 14-under-par (270) and Kuchar’s charge on the last day brought home the remaining medal on 271.
Stenson’s silver came after a fourth round 68, and despite missing out on the top prize; it capped another magnificent performance following his tremendous play in Ayrshire in securing the famous Claret Jug.
But it was Rose who proudly took up his position at the top of the podium and revelled in his new title as the first Olympic gold medallist in 112 years. His close-fought contest with friend and Ryder Cup partner Stenson ensured that the competition exceeded expectations and played its part in the success of Rio 2016. The pair also gave Darren Clarke’s European Ryder Cup team a confidence boost as the Europeans prepare to travel to Hazeltine to take on the United States in early October.
While silver was the prize on this occasion for the number one-ranked golfer in the field, the realisation of just what the patriotic Swede has achieved for golf in his country as result of his Olympic performance, in addition to his triumph at Royal Troon, will ensure that Henrik Stenson will look back on the summer of 2016 as a golden period of his career.