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Rio Olympics: Rory McIlroy was glued to enthralling finale, reveals Justin Rose

By Phil Casey

Justin Rose has revealed that golf's successful return to the Olympics even prompted Rory McIlroy to change his mind and watch the thrilling climax in Rio.

Ulsterman McIlroy was one of more than 20 top players to withdraw, the 27-year-old initially citing concerns over the Zika virus but later admitting that Major championships remained the "pinnacle" of the sport and he would only watch "the stuff that matters" in the Olympics.

But after securing golf's first Olympic gold medal in 112 years by beating Open champion Henrik Stenson in a thrilling duel at Reserva de Marapendi, one of the many congratulatory messages Rose received was from Ryder Cup team-mate McIlroy (below).

"I did get one from Rory. Absolutely," Rose said. "He said he was very, very proud and he was pulling for me. He said he could see how much it meant and congratulated me.

"He was very complimentary and obviously he watched. He made the point that he really wants golf to succeed as an Olympic sport. He has some of his own opinions and that's fine, but as a whole he's behind golf succeeding in the Olympics. All the guys that missed out probably made their decision for good reasons, but I think they're going to have realised what a successful event this was.

"They're all great competitors and to be sitting at home watching other guys getting the glory is not going to sit well with them. They want experiences like this and they're going to have to wait four years. That's what makes this special. I'll have another go.

"It's an opportunity that hopefully they're going to take in 2020."

Rose was close to tears as he described how much his victory meant to his seven-year-old son Leo. The 36-year-old added: "He was so excited. I've never seen my little boy in tears.

"He went to a little football camp this last week and he got a medal, and he said to me, 'Right dad, I've got my medal it's time for you to get yours'."

Although golf will feature in Tokyo in 2020, every sport's place in the programme from 2024 will be reviewed in September 2017, with television and media coverage an important consideration for the IOC.

Belfast Telegraph


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