Rose becomes golf’s golden boy

Justin Rose’s chip shot on the 18th hole was as good as gold.

Rose, from Great Britain, hit the climactic blow to within two feet for a birdie that gave him the first gold medal in golf at the Olympic Games since 1904 with a two-stroke victory over Henrik Stenson of Sweden on the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro.

Matt Kuchar of the United States shot 63 and finished three shots back to grab the bronze medal.

“It was very surreal,” Rose said of standing atop the podium with the gold medal around his neck as “God Save the Queen” was played. “It’s something I’ve seen on TV and I watched the athletes (at the medal ceremony) very carefully when I was at a swimming event this week to see how much it meant to them. It’s a bit of a wow moment.

“The major season came and went this season and I didn’t play as well as I wanted. But I had my eye on Rio and having my health and form (after an early-season back injury). I knew I had to play a great round today against Henrik. It took everything I had to beat him.

“. … This is a huge honor.”

Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 4-under-par 67 with two birdies on the last four holes, and had a winning score of 16-under 268.

Stenson, who won the Open Championship at Royal Troon three weeks ago, had a third straight 68 and was tied for the lead with Rose heading to the final hole before hitting a sub-par chip shot and three-putting for a bogey.

“It came down to the last couple of shots and I didn’t hit a very good chip,” said Stenson, who settled for the silver medal. “I knew it was going to be tough against Justin today, but I played a good round, four good rounds, so I can’t be too unhappy.

“It was great playing in the final group and I also saw that Kooch was climbing up there. It was fun and Justin played the best, so that’s why he got the gold medal. … I’m still very happy with my silver.”

Kuchar, after making pars on the first four holes, birdied four of the last five holes on the front nine and added an eagle at No. 10 en route to a 63 that equaled the best score of the week on the course designed by Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott.

Kooch left a birdie putt on the lip of the last hole or he would have been in a playoff with Stenson for the silver medal.

“I’ve never been so happy with a third-place finish in all my life,” said Kuchar, who added birdies on the 15th and 17th holes in his bogey-free round. “The pride is just busting out of my chest.

“I got off to a good start but didn’t make any putts, but then they started going in late in the back nine. When the eagle went in at No. 10, I knew I had a chance to medal. … To just play in the Olympics, and then medal, is just amazing.”

Thomas Pieters of Belgium carded a 65 to finish seven stroke back in solo fourth, while Marcus Fraser of Australia, who led after each to the first two rounds, totaled 72 and was another shot down in a tie for fifth with Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, who had a 67, and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain, who came in at 68.

Bubba Watson of the U.S. finished with a 70 to tie for eighth, nine shots back, with Sergio Garcia of Spain, who posted a 68, and Emiliano Grillo of Spain, who wound up at 70.

Patrick Reed climbed to a tie for 11th with a 64 and Rickie Fowler rounded out the American contingent with a tie for 37th after a 74.





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