The XXXII Olympiad is finally here, with the opening ceremony taking place on Friday, and next week will see the men’s golf tournament tee-off at Kasumigaseki Country Club. To whet your appetite, we look back at Rio 2016 ‒ when Justin Rose won gold in such glorious fashion.
Justin Rose’s exuberant fist pump celebration after holing the winning putt was one of the many lasting memories from Rio 2016.
Sadly, the Englishman did not make the Great Britain team for Tokyo, but he set the bar for Olympic golf in terms of passion and performance.
He became golf’s first Olympic champion since 1904 by overcoming friend and Ryder Cup partner Henrik Stenson from Sweden in a thrilling final round at the Olympic Golf Course.
Rose, 36 years old at the time, was level with Stenson on 15 under par after 17 holes but the Swede bogeyed the last while Rose sank a birdie putt to win by two shots.
The 2013 US Open champion closed with a four-under-par 67 to win on 16 under.
Stenson ‒ who two months earlier had claimed The Open ‒ took silver with a 68, while American Matt Kuchar carded a 63 to claim bronze on 13 under.
“That felt better than anything I’ve ever won,” said Rose.
“It was the best tournament I’ve ever done. Hopefully, we have shown Brazil what golf is about. I’m glad it was close. Not for my nerves, for golf.”
Rose had relished the prospect of becoming an Olympian since the moment the sport’s return to the Games was confirmed in 2009.
Such was his eagerness to be part of the experience, he arrived the week before the Olympics officially started to ensure he was part of the opening ceremony.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about Rio for a long, long time. I’ve been dreaming about coming here for a few years now. I was hoping my ranking would allow me to compete in the Olympic Games.
“I came here in good form, and I felt excited about competing, excited about giving it 100%. Then, when I actually got down to Rio and experienced the whole vibe of the Olympics, to come out of it with a medal is incredible. To come out of it with gold, unbelievable.”
The Englishman made history by hitting Olympic golf’s first hole-in-one in the opening round and started Sunday with a one-shot lead, before shooting four birdies and just one bogey on his outward nine.
Stenson carded birdies in four of his first 10 holes and drew level with Rose when the leader dropped a shot on the 13th.
It looked like a play-off would be needed to separate them, but Rose held his nerve on the par-five last, chipping his approach to two feet from the hole, while Stenson’s spun away to around 20 feet.
The Swede then raced his birdie putt eight feet past the hole and missed the return to allow Rose the luxury of two putts for victory. He needed just the one.
Earlier, Stenson had been forced to summon the trainer to help with back issues on the 14th hole, which left him face down on the tee for a brief spell. He went on to bogey the hole.
“I didn’t make the best swings there for a little while, but it wasn’t hindering me too much,” Stenson said. “But it’s not something you plan to have worked on out on the course.
“It did kind of put me out of rhythm a little bit, but I was still there till the end. It was just down to whoever made a birdie on the last, otherwise we would have been out for a play-off.”
A total of 14 Asian Tour members competed in Rio, with several players excelling: in particular, Australian Marcus Fraser and Kiradech Aphibarnrat from Thailand tied for fifth, just eight shots behind Rose. Fraser, in fact, led after day one and two.
But more than the performances it was the Olympic experience that was remembered the most by the Asian Tour players who competed.
Bangladesh star Siddikur Rahman was the flag bearer for his country, Brazil’s Adilson da Silva was the first player to tee off in the first round, and Malaysian Gavin Green, inspired by the occasion, promptly got an Olympic tattoo on his arm when he returned home.