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Rose strikes gold on historic day

Great Britain’s Justin Rose followed in the footsteps of the long-departed George Lyon of Canada when he climbed onto the podium to collect the Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. On a sun-drenched final day, in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,000 at Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course, Rose added the Olympic crown to his 2013 US Open title after an exciting battle with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

The packed grandstand on the 18th watched as Rose got up-and-down from the side of the green for the birdie which sealed a worthy gold medal performance. Stenson, who knew he 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. 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 took silver with a fourth-round 68 for 270 and Kuchar’s swashbuckling last day brought home the remaining medal on 271.

“Olympic gold medalist – it sounds absolutely incredible,” said the 36-year-old. “I was on that last green, just sort of pinching myself and taking myself back to the quote that I had given about the Olympics all along – that I hoped my resumé one day read: ‘multiple major champion and Olympic gold medalist’ and if that happened then I’d be a very, very happy man. I pretty much just need the multiple major now, but for the most part, I’m there on that quote.

“The whole week, I’ve been so focused, really, to be honest with you. I’ve been so into it. I’ve been so 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, it really was.”

Stenson recognised the quality of the golf on display on the final day and admitted: “When you’re in good position to try and win, you always kind of feel a little disappointed afterwards.  But at the same time, we said that all along in the Olympics, you’ve got some pretty good consolation prizes.

“I guess if you would have asked me before the week that I would leave here with a medal, I would have been pretty pleased and I managed to do that.  I’m quite happy, I didn’t feel like I played my absolute best throughout the week but I played good enough to put myself in contention and that was my goal.  Once I was up there, I played pretty well but I needed to play one or two shots better to win it today. “

Rose paid tribute to his rival and friend by saying: “I just said today that I had to out‑Stenson Stenson.  I knew I wasn’t going to get much from him at all.  Obviously the bogey at the last only came because he had to force the putt in.

“But he is unbelievable.  He’s relentless and a great player, and I can’t wait to be on the same team as him in The Ryder Cup. He’s a great player and he’s a great friend, and I just gave him a hug on the 18th green and he was as gracious as ever. I just said to him, ‘Great summer – winning The Open Championship’, I was so pleased for him.  There are very few guys are you really genuinely, genuinely happy for, and Henrik is one of them.”