Good start in Rio, Olympic golf in full swing in Tokyo

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KAWAGOE, Japan (AP) – Her heart rate only peaked when Nelly Korda stepped onto the Olympic podium, not when she had a putter in her hand with a gold medal hanging on every stroke.

Six days earlier, Xander Sc Chaudele’s father was the essence of calm as he shared his point of view in German and English, depending on who asked. But as his son turned to face the three flagpoles to the left of the 18th green and the Stars and Stripes played, Stefan Sc Chaudele was an emotional mess. He could barely say “hymn” without choking.

“Nobody’s going to play the anthem for you when you win the Masters, right? This level of pride does not exist in the Masters, ”said the father. “It’s not a major fifth. But the importance of it is like a major. “

The second edition of Golf’s Return to the Olympics has captured a spirit of the games that is sure to grow over the next three years to Paris, then Los Angeles and Australia.

It is not the fifth major, or even the sixth.

ScHotele wouldn’t know the difference because although the gold medal elevated him to the elite rank in golf, he has yet to win a major. It was no less special.

Korda won a gold medal and a gold medal in the span of 42 days, and even she doesn’t know the difference, she doesn’t care to make the distinction.

“It’s amazing to be a gold medalist, to even just be an Olympian and to represent your country,” she said. “You have to be the best of the best to come to the games. But I wouldn’t say that one victory is more special than the other because they are all special.

The only difference is that they have a trophy that only two others have – Justin Rose and Inbee Park in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 – and no one else can get it until the Olympics are held at Golf. National outside Paris in 2024.

This is what makes the Olympics unique, even though they look like any other tournament.

Golf will never stray from 72 holes in stroke play, and neither should it. The Olympics are about finding the best player, not about finding a fancy format to grab attention.

And this time it worked.

The two winners had a three-stroke lead on the back nine just to be decided on the last hole.

ScHotele birdie putt 6 feet on the 17th hole to regain the lead and won as he went up and down 98 yards.

Korda closed with five starts and was helped by Mone Inami to bogey No. 18 from a blocked lie in the bunker. Korda wears a Whoop band, who reported her heart averaged 128 beats per minute in the final round and hit 154 when she was on the podium.

Both competitions had playoffs – Inami for the silver medal against Lydia Ko, while CT Pan had to go four more holes to win a seven-way playoff series for bronze.

It was different in Rio. It’s rare to find an unequaled 1-2-3 finish in any tournament, and it happened in both events at the 2016 Olympics.

Rose and Henrik Stenson were tied for 18th and Rose won it with a 3-foot birdie throw. Matt Kuchar shot 63 to win bronze by four strokes in fourth place. Park was leading by at least three shots on the aggregate of the last nine.

For the most part – and it has never been more obvious than two weeks at Kasumigaseki Country Club – the golf course moves like an oil tanker across the ocean for three days, then the ship’s hull breaks and turns into a speedboat. for the final. two o’clock.

It can be exciting. It just takes a while.

All that’s missing from the Olympics is a team medal, and International Golf Federation officials are optimistic about what will be in place for Los Angeles in 2028, possibly Riviera.

Some players will have doubts. Adam Scott, among the three players who twice turned down their spots, doesn’t think golf is part of the Olympics at the expense of other sports that don’t have four majors a year.

Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland didn’t like being forced to choose between Ireland and the UK. He rejected the Olympics in 2016 when he said he had no regrets about not going. And while he was watching TV, golf probably wouldn’t be on his list. “Probably the events like athletics, swimming, diving, stuff that matters.”

He showed up at the Tokyo Olympics and radically changed his mind, long before he was knocked out in the seven-a-side playoffs.

“I’ve made a few comments before that were probably uneducated and impulsive,” he said. “But coming here and experiencing it, seeing, feeling everything that is going on – not just Olympic golf, but just the Olympics in general – that kind of Olympic spirit has definitely bitten me.

“I have to do a better job of just giving things a chance, experiencing things, not erasing them at first glance,” he said. “It’s kind of a character trait of mine, but I’m glad I’m wrong. “

Not as happy as ScHotele and Korda, but no less excited about Paris.


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