Ko soaks in men's final, excited for Olympics


RIO DE JANEIRO – Lydia Ko was heading out for a practice round just as Justin Rose was making his final push to a gold medal on Sunday at the Olympic Golf Course, but that didn’t keep the New Zealander from soaking in the vibe.

Golf’s return to the Olympics after 112 years was worth the wait, with Rose outdueling Henrik Stenson down the stretch and Matt Kuchar rallying on Sunday to win the bronze medal.

Ko noticed.

“I couldn’t see the finish but I could hear how excited the fans were getting and when I was finishing I could see all of the medalists – Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose – and to be able to take a photo with the medalists was very special,” said Ko, the top-ranked player in the world and the favorite to win this week’s event.

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Unlike some of the men in last week’s competition, Ko is not staying in the athlete’s village and didn’t arrive early to participate in the Opening Ceremony, but that doesn’t mean the Olympics have been an afterthought for the 19-year-old.

Unlike some of the high-profile men who decided not to participate in the Olympics, Ko – and the vast majority of women – have been consistent in their support of golf’s return to the Games.

“I think they have already changed a little bit of our game, and hopefully we can be a little bit more of a part in that,” she said. “This week celebrates every single athlete. This shows how special a third place is. Sometimes you can get carried away with this player won this week. It celebrates each athlete and their countries.”