The Sports Center

History for GB's Rose, Fraser 5th

Justin Rose birdied the 72nd hole to win golf’s first Olympic gold medal for Great Britain at Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic golf course today, writing himself into the record books.

Meanwhile Australia’s Marcus Fraser, the first-round leader, finished tied-fifth as golf returned to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.

Rose, the world No. 12, was tied with his Ryder Cup teammate Henrik Stenson of Sweden as the pair walked to the 18th tee today.

The pair had engaged a two-man war all day, Rose starting out a shot ahead but the Swede quickly taking birdies at the first two holes to join him. Each had held the lead on his own at different points, with Rose in front through 15 holes before Stenson hit a beautiful wedge in close at the par-four 16th to lock it up again.

The pair have represented Europe in Ryder Cup together as fixtures in the team, and once were neighbours in America.

But it was Rose who was the steadier on the 72nd hole, a long par-five. After both players were forced to lay up short of the green with their second shots, Stenson’s lob wedge shot spun back and left him with a seven-metre putt for birdie. With the door open, Rose stepped up and hit his shot from 30 metres to the shadow of the flag, a certain birdie.

This meant that Stenson knew he had to make, and the Open Champion from this year rattled his birdie putt well past the hole and missed the par putt coming back, leaving Rose to tap in, punch the air and grab his Great Britain shirt.

The Briton goes into the annals as the first Olympic gold medal winner in golf for 116 years.

Fraser, who played with the Europeans in the final group, made four bogeys on the front nine to cruel his chances, but the Australian finished strongly, making birdies at the 14th and 15th and then another at 18 to get himself back into the top five. He had been in or near the lead throughout the tournament after his opening 63.

Fraser said he had enjoyed “an incredible week”, and that the Olympics felt like a major championship.

“I probably learnt a lot about myself this week, to be honest,” said Fraser. “Not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have a chance to be here, let alone mixing it with those guys over four rounds in such a big event. It’s pleasing. I just didn’t have much with me on the weekend. My game was pretty scrappy and I didn’t deserve to have a medal. I felt like I fought as hard as I could and it’s always nice to birdie the last. It leaves you a pretty nice taste in your mouth when you get on that plane tomorrow.

“There’s a lot of self-doubt there that I doubt whether I can do this. I think coming here doing it this week on this stage was pleasing. To finish fifth is a big plus for me.”

His teammate Scott Hend finished tied-39th after a closing round of 71, even-par.

Big crowds turned out for the final day and American Matt Kuchar delivered a 63 to race into the bronze medal position, summing up the feeling of the players who turned up in Rio: “I’ve never been so happy with third place in my life,” said Kuchar. “I can’t explain the pride to you that’s just busting out of my chest to make an Olympics and medal is just amazing.”

Spain’s Sergio Garcia tweeted his approval of the concept too. “Whoever said @OlympicGolf didn’t mean anything must’ve been on drugs cause this is absolutely amazing!!Coming to Rio, my best decision ever!”

The women’s tournament begins this week. Australia is to be represented by young guns Minjee Lee from Perth and Melbourne’s Su Oh.

For full scores, visit http://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/scores/

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