Justin Rose has described claiming golf’s first Olympic gold medal for 112 years as a “dream come true” after snatching a two-shot victory in Rio.
Rose posted a four-under 67 during a topsy-turvy day at Reserva de Marapendi on Sunday, eventually edging out Open champion Henrik Stenson in a thrilling final round.
The lead exchanged hands several times and the pair were all square heading to the last, where Rose pitched to two feet to birdie as Stenson ran up a three-putt bogey.
That left Rose to tap-in and become golf’s first Olympic winner since George Lyon in St. Louis in 1904, having been one of the major supporters of the sport’s return to the Games.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” Rose said. “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 – I hope my resume one day reads ‘multiple major champion and Olympic gold medallist’.
“The whole week I’ve been so focused, I’ve been so up for it. I’ve been just so determined to represent Team GB as best as I could, and it was just the most magical week, it really was.
“This is a dream come true. I’ve been thinking about Rio for a long, long time. I made it a big deal in my year and I had the benefit of walking in the opening ceremony and watching other sports, which was all part of the plan.
“Once I got here and experienced the whole vibe, I’ve just been really excited and to come out with a medal is great. To come out with a gold is unbelievable. It sits alongside the US Open trophy for me.”
A month after Stenson had won a thrilling duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon, the Olympics also effectively became a match-play contest between two of the six major champions in the 60-man field.
Rose took a one-shot lead over Stenson into the final round and there was never more than a stroke between them until the end, with both men carding three birdies in the first five holes.
“I’m pleased with my performance,” said Stenson, who will move to world No 4 when the rankings are updated on Monday. “Of course, when you’re in a good position to try and win, you always kind of feel a little disappointed afterwards.
“At the same time, we said that all along in the Olympics, you’ve got some pretty good consolation prizes.
“I had a bit of an issue, my thoracic spine locked up after the tee shot on the 13th and put me out of rhythm a little. I can’t say it was purely down to that but it was not helping, put it that way.
“But I was still there at the end and it came down to whoever made birdie down the last. I didn’t hit a good shot and that opened the door for Justin.”