When Justin Rose putted out on the 72nd hole of the recent FedExCup Playoff opener, The Barclays, he made an impression. No, he didn't win, and he didn't come close. But he wore a special ball marker, of sorts, around his neck.
Made of gold.
The 2010 winner of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, Rose draped his Olympic gold medal around his neck as he tapped in his final putt at Bethpage Black in New York. On August 14 the Englishman won the men's Olympic tournament and the first gold medal in golf in 112 years by outdueling British Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
After starting the final round with a one-shot lead after a 65 on Saturday, Rose made a 2-foot birdie for a closing 67 and 16-under 272 total at the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stenson shot 68 to finish two back to win silver while USA’s Matt Kuchar showed that third place is a win in the Olympics, firing a course record-tying 63 to finish another stroke behind and capture the bronze medal.
Kuchar won the 2013 Memorial Tournament, meaning two of the three medalists are former Memorial winners.
Rose is the first Olympic gold medalist in golf since George Lyon of Canada won the 1904 Games in St. Louis.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” Rose said after leaving the top tier of the podium. “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.”
Rose, who won the 2013 U.S. Open, said legacy events such as the majors define a career. "Now I think winning the gold medal does, too," he added.
Inbee Park of Korea certainly would agree. Shaking off an injury-plagued year in which she hadn't finished a tournament since April because of a bad thumb, Park cruised to a five-stroke victory over world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand. Like Rose, Park shot 16 under after a closing 66, leaving the battle for silver between Ko and Shanshan Feng of China. Each shot 69 but were separated by Ko's birdie at the last.
“This is definitely one of the special moments in my golfing career and in my whole life. It feels great,” said Park, who earned entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this year. “Representing your country, winning the gold, it's so special. It's just really all I've wanted. I'm just happy."
The International Golf Federation was happy, too.
Pater Dawson, President of the International Golf Federation, said: “We are delighted by the strong showing of golf during the Olympics. We were always confident that we would deliver high-quality men's and women's competitions and we have witnessed that over the last two weeks.
“Golf’s success has been endorsed by strong viewing figures throughout the world and genuine interest from enthusiastic crowds in Rio. To see medalists crowned from six different nations is hugely gratifying.”