Lahiri 42nd as American Schauffele takes gold in front of his family in Japan

Aug 1: Anirban Lahiri ended his second Olympic golf campaign with a birdie but it was no consolation for the Indian who had high hopes from the event. He finished the tournament with an 1-over 71 and was T-42 in the 60-man field.

Lahiri, who began the week with a superb 67 and was inside Top-10, slid down the ladder thereafter with rounds of 72-68-72 over the next three days for a four-day total of 5-under for T-42, which will being better than 57th in 2016 was still disappointing.

Udayan Mane, who got into the field later as a result of some withdrawals, shot 1-over 72 in the final round after earlier rounds of 76-69-70. He was 3-over for the week and ended 56th.

Lahiri started the week with a bogey on the first day, ended it with a with a birdie. On the final day he had three birdies and four bogeys.

Mane had four birdies, one on the front nine and three on the back nine, besides five bogeys.

Xander Schauffele (68-63-68-67) became the first American to win the golf gold while South African-born Slovakian Rory Sabbatini (69-67-70-61), with his wife Martina Stofanikova, on the bag, won the silver with a record-breaking 10-under 61. CT Pan (74-66-66-63), also with his wife as caddie, Michelle Lin, won the bronze in a seven-man play-off.

For more than an hour after gold and silver had been decided, the fight for bronze went on with a seven-man play-off for bronze that brought out the beaty of golf at the Olympics.

The seven included four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy, two-time Major winner, Collin Morikawa, who has Japanese links, and home star and Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama. Add to them Sebastian Munoz of Colombia, Mito Perera of Chile, Paul Casey of Great Britain and CT Pan of Chinese Taipei, and it underlined the global appeal of golf.

From that lot Pan, who like Sabbatini, had his wife Michelle Lin as his caddie, who won the bronze, seven years after he won two Asian Games gold medals in golf in 2014.

Schauffele, 27, playing in front of what was one of the largest crowds attending an Olympic win this year, won gold in a country, where his grandparents from his mother’s side still reside.

Xander sunk a 4-foot par putt for a 4-under 67 for his first tournament victory in two and a half years after several close calls.

His father and coach, Stefan Schauffele, who was once a Olympic decathlon hopeful till a drunk driver hit him and left him blind in one eye in 1986. The elder Schauffele was then 20.

Xander Schauffele became the first American golfer to win gold since 1900 and it was not contested from 1908 to 2012. Golf returned to Olympics in 2016 and Justin Rose won gold. Rose did not qualify for Great Britain this time.

While Schauffele won gold, Rory Sabbatini set a new record with 10-under 61 and jumped to 17-under to set the target, which the American overtook and won by one at 18-under.

Sabbatini, who won the 2003 World Cup as a South African but now lives in the US, won the silver under the Slovakian flag. Sabbatini changed his citizenship to Slovakia, which is his wife Martina, who was his caddie for the day. Sabbatini finished several groups ahead of Schauffele, who overtook him on the back nine for the gold.

Despite thousands of miles from the US, Schauffele had dozens of family in Japan. His mother, Ping-Yi Chen, was born in Taiwan but was raised in Japan and his grandparents from her side still stay in Japan.

 

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