Justin Rose's duel with Henrik Stenson was the perfect result for Olympic golf chiefs

 
Sam Torrance
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Golf - Olympics: Day 9
Rose saw off Open champion Henrik Stenson to win gold on Sunday (Source: Getty)

Newly-crowned Olympic champion Justin Rose wouldn’t have been the only person delighted with how golf’s return to the Games after more than a century’s absence unfolded over the last few days.

After a difficult build-up to the event featuring a spate of withdrawals, organisers could not have hoped for a better outcome than a Major winner of Rose’s stature claiming the gold medal.

What’s more, he was pushed all the way by the current Open champion, Henrik Stenson, in an engrossing contest that was only decided at the very last hole.

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For Rose, it was a fantastic victory and another wonderful addition to his already sparkling CV.

He is a proud Englishman and he made clear before the competition how determined he was to win this. Winning meant the world to him – he even said it felt better than any tournament he had previously won – and you could see that in his reaction.

There is a pride that comes from representing your country and it is something that golf at the Olympics has in common with the Ryder Cup. The other distinctive thing that they share is an absence of prize money.

It’s still very early days but if golf at the Games can also replicate some of the Ryder Cup’s success that will be no bad thing.

Whittle down the field

One issue that could do with addressing is the format.

With nothing on offer to anyone outside of the top three, Rose and Stenson’s breakaway meant that dozens of players teed off on Sunday knowing that they didn’t have a hope in hell of winning anything.

There ought to be a way of whittling the field down further so that doesn’t happen, and it would also be more in keeping with the structure of other events at the Olympics.

Stenson in form for FedEx Playoffs

He was pipped to the gold medal but Stenson deserves great credit for another good performance.

The Swede, who is now up to No4 in the world rankings, still seems to be enjoying a purple patch, having broken his Major duck at Troon last month, and then pushed Jimmy Walker most of the way at the US PGA Championship.

Stenson won the FedEx Cup during a spell like this in 2013, and with the playoffs of that competition due to start next week, his form looks to be a good sign.

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