KAWAGOE, Japan — Four feet betwixt his play shot and the cupful was each that separated Xander Schauffele from an Olympic golden medal, and helium couldn’t assistance but fto his caput wander.
For Schauffele, it would beryllium arsenic peculiar arsenic a major, the championships that person eluded him acold excessively galore times, astir precocious astatine the Masters. For his father, an Olympic medal to stock aft his ain aspirations ended successful a horrific car mishap that outgo him his near eye.
The Las Vegas nonmigratory bowed his caput and closed his eyes to drawback backmost into the present.
“I conscionable reminded myself, this is conscionable a 4-footer,” helium said Sunday. “All you person to bash is marque it. No large deal.”
He made it. It was a large deal.
With much unit than helium needed, Schauffele got the prize helium wanted successful a decision to men’s play truthful chaotic that 9 players were inactive successful the premix for a medal arsenic the past 3 players measured their putts connected the 18th green.
The putt that mattered astir belonged to Schauffele, who had to laic up abbreviated of the h2o and trust connected a wedge and a putt for par and a 4-under 67.
“I possibly enactment much unit connected myself wanting to spell triumph this much than thing else,” helium said. “And with my dad, helium dedicated a large chunk of his beingness for rather immoderate clip to obtaining a medal, and that was taken distant from him. … It was much than conscionable play for me. And I’m conscionable really, truly blessed and fortunate to beryllium sitting here.”
Rory Sabbatini acceptable an Olympic grounds with a 61 — with 2 bogeys connected his paper — that astir was bully capable for a sudden-death playoff for the gold. He was much than blessed to triumph the metallic medal for Slovakia.
The bronze? Well, that was complicated.
Hideki Matsuyama ended his imagination of adding golden to a Masters greenish overgarment by missing excessively galore putts on the backmost 9 astatine Kasumigaseki Country Club. He inactive had a 12-foot birdie putt for the bronze connected the last hole. He missed that, too, putting him successful a seven-man playoff among players from 7 countries for the last medal.
Matsuyama was eliminated connected the archetypal other hole, on with Paul Casey, with a bogey.
Less than a period removed from recovering from COVID-19, the Japanese prima was 1 changeable retired of the pb with 4 holes to play, and coiled up without a medal.
No gold, metallic oregon bronze. He inactive has a greenish jacket.
Rory McIlroy, Mito Pereira and Sebastian Munoz were bounced connected the 3rd playoff spread with pars. That near C.T. Pan and British Open champion Collin Morikawa, who some changeable 63, and Pan won with an 8-foot par.
Stefan Schauffele watched the medal ceremonial from disconnected the 18th green, tears down acheronian sunglasses arsenic his lad enactment the medal astir his neck.
The begetter was 20 erstwhile helium was invited to bid with Germany’s nationalist squad arsenic a decathlete. He was deed by a drunk driver, an mishap that near him unsighted successful 1 oculus and nary longer capable to vie successful the sports helium loved.
He yet recovered golf, which helium passed connected to his son.
“Because of what happened to me, I promised myself I volition marque definite my kids volition find retired however bully they are astatine immoderate they’re trying to do. In this case, it was golf,” the begetter said. “That was fueled by the information I ne'er recovered retired however bully I was.”
Schauffele, whose parent was raised successful Japan and has grandparents successful the metropolis who were kept from watching him nether the prohibition connected spectators, appeared to person this won each along.
Sabbatini finished with a fist-pumping birdie connected the 18th hole. That enactment him 1 changeable down Schauffele, who inactive six holes remaining and 2 bully scoring chances.
And past 1 plaything changed everything.
Schauffele sent his tee changeable good close of the fairway connected the par-5 14th and into the bushes. He had to instrumentality a one-shot punishment conscionable to get out, took 3 much shots to scope the greenish and made a 5-foot putt for bogey.
He was tied for the lead, with Matsuyama 1 changeable behind.
Schauffele kept his California chill and delivered 2 clutch putts astatine the end.
“I was trying truthful hard to conscionable enactment calm,” Schauffele said. “But man, it was stressful. And I made that putt and it was conscionable a immense value lifted disconnected my shoulders.”
Sabbatini had plentifulness to beryllium blessed astir with silver. Born successful South Africa, helium decided astatine the extremity of 2018 to go a Slovakian national done his wife, Martina, who had a comparative moving the tiny Slovak Golf Federation. His woman caddied for him this week.
That made him eligible for the Olympics, and present Slovakia has its 3rd medal successful the Tokyo Games. It has a golden successful women’s trap and a metallic successful men’s kayak. Sabbatini is the archetypal Slovakian to vie successful Olympic golf.
“The sole intent of it was to make aboriginal generations of Slovak golfers,” Sabbatini said. “It’s not precisely the premier athletics for kids to turn up and privation to spell play successful Slovakia, truthful hopefully we tin animate aboriginal Olympians.”