All eyes were on Rio’s Olympic Golf Course on Sunday as two stars familiar to Dubai golf fans went head to head for the sport’s first gold medal in 112 years, as Will Jones reports
The final round of the men’s Olympic golf competition on Sunday was a shootout between two players with strong professional and personal connections to Dubai: Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, a two-time winner of the DP World Tour Championship, a Dubai resident for many years and the winner of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai in 2013; and Great Britain’s Justin Rose, twice a runner-up at the Jumeirah Golf Estates.
In 2014, Stenson pipped Rose to the title in Dubai by two shots. In Rio, though, the roles were reversed in a thrilling finish. Coming down the 18th hole tied at 15 under par, Rose knocked in his short birdie attempt after Stenson had three-putted, giving the Englishman victory by two shots.
Having entered the record books in round one by making the first hole-in-one in Olympic golf history, Rose had become the first Olympic golf champion in 112 years. “That felt better than anything I’ve ever won,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about Rio for a long, long time. This is just a dream come true.”
With Rose’s victory in the books, it’s now time for the first ever women’s Olympic golf tournament. The line-up is extremely strong: only one player in the LPGA top 100, American golfer Lee-Anne Pace, has declared herself unavailable to compete, and only the strict per-country participation limits has stopped all the world’s best players from making the journey to Brazil.
Among the competitors will be China’s Shanshan Feng, who is a familiar face to golf fans in Dubai. “Jenny”, as she’s widely known, has won three of the last four Omega Dubai Ladies Masters tournaments at the Emirates Golf Club, most recently taking the title in December 2015 by an astonishing 12 strokes.
Jenny will be teeing off at 5.25pm UAE time on Wednesday. Brazil’s Miriam Nagel will get the tournament under way at 2.30pm, while world no. 1 Lydia Ko, a Korean-born New Zealander and the tournament favourite, goes out at 6.09pm in the last threesome of the day. If the women’s tournament comes close to matching the men’s, we’re in for an excellent four days.
The women’s Olympic golf tournament begins on Wednesday, August 17