Xander Schauffele of the United States was able to put together a clutch performance to give his team the gold medal in golf.
KAWAGOE, JAPAN (Japan) — The only thing that separated American Xander Schauffele from an Olympic gold medal was four feet between his golf ball and the cup, and he couldn’t help but think about it.
It would be as special for Schauffele as winning a major, which has evaded him far too many times, most recently at the Masters. After his own ambitions ended in a terrible automobile accident that lost him his left eye, his father now has an Olympic medal to give.
To return to the present, Schauffele lowered his head and closed his eyes.
He stated Sunday, “I just told myself, this is just a 4-footer.” “It’s just a matter of making it. It’s not a huge deal.”
He was successful. It was a significant event.
With more pressure than he needed, Schauffele won the reward he desired in a chaotic finish to men’s golf that left nine players in contention for a medal as the last three players measured their putts on the 18th green.
Schauffele, who had to lay up short of the water and depend on a wedge and a putt for par and a 4-under 67, had the most important putt.
“I think I placed more pressure on myself to win this than anything else,” he said. “And with my father, he devoted a significant portion of his life to earning a medal, which was taken away from him. For me, it was more than simply golf. And I’m just overjoyed and grateful to be sitting here.”
Rory Sabbatini established an Olympic record with a 61, which was almost good enough for a sudden-death playoff for the gold. He had two bogeys on his card. He was delighted to bring Slovakia home a silver medal.
What about the bronze? That was a difficult situation.
Hideki Matsuyama’s goal of adding gold to his Masters green jacket came to an end on the final nine at Kasumigaseki Country Club when he missed too many putts. On the last hole, he still had a 12-foot birdie putt for the bronze. He also missed it, placing him in a seven-player playoff for the last medal with players from seven different nations.
With a bogey on the first extra hole, Matsuyama and Paul Casey were eliminated.
With four holes to play and less than a month after recuperating from COVID-19, the Japanese star was one stroke behind the leader with four holes to play and finished without a medal.
There will be no gold, silver, or bronze. He’s still wearing his green jacket.
With pars on the third playoff hole, Rory McIlroy, Mito Pereira, and Sebastian Munoz were eliminated. C.T. Pan and Collin Morikawa, the Open winner, were the only two players to shoot 63, and Pan won with an 8-foot par.
Stefan Schauffele, who was crying behind dark shades as his son placed the medal around his neck, watched the medal ceremony from off the 18th green.
When the father was 20, he was asked to train as a decathlete with Germany’s national squad. He was struck by a drunk driver, leaving him blind in one eye and unable to participate in the sports he loved.
He finally discovered golf and taught it to his kid.
“Because of what happened to me, I made a vow to myself that I would make sure my children knew how wonderful they were at everything they were doing. It was golf in this instance “”, stated the father. “The fact that I never found out how talented I was fuelled it.”
Schauffele, whose mother was reared in Japan and who had grandparents in the city who were unable to see him due to the spectator ban, looked to have this won from the start.
Sabbatini capped up his round with a fist-pumping birdie on the 18th. He was now one stroke behind Schauffele, who had six holes left and two excellent scoring opportunities.
Then, all of a sudden, one swing altered everything.
On the par-5 14th, Schauffele’s tee shot went far right of the fairway and into the bushes. He had to incur a 1-stroke penalty just to get out, and it took him three more strokes to reach the green, where he bogeyed with a 5-foot putt.
He was tied for first place with Matsuyama, who was one shot behind.
Schauffele maintained his California calm in the last round, making two clutch putts.
“I was simply trying to remain cool,” Schauffele stated. “But, man, was it tense. And when I hit that putt, it felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”
With silver, Sabbatini had a lot to be pleased about. He was born in South Africa and chose to become a Slovakian citizen at the end of 2018 via his wife, Martina, who had a cousin who ran the small Slovak Golf Federation. This week, his wife caddied for him.
As a result, he was qualified for the Olympics, and Slovakia now has its third medal in the Tokyo Games. In the women’s trap, it won gold, while in the men’s kayak, it won silver. Sabbatini is the first golfer from Slovakia to participate in the Olympics.
Sabbatini said, “The only aim of it was to create future generations of Slovak golfers.” “It’s not the most popular sport in Slovakia for youngsters to grow up and desire to play, so maybe we can inspire future Olympians.”