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.
McIlroy was one of more than 20 top players to withdraw from the Games, 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.
“I did get one from Rory. Absolutely,” Rose said. “He said he was very, very proud and he said he was pulling for me. He said he could see how much it meant to me 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 that are very personal to him and that’s fine, but as a whole he’s very, very much behind golf succeeding in the Olympics.
“All the guys that missed out probably made their decision for good reasons and they probably persuaded themselves it was a good decision, but I think they’re going to have sat back and 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.
“It just doesn’t come around next week and I’ll have another go.
“It’s an opportunity that comes around so rarely and I’m certainly happy it’s fallen on my plate.
“ I certainly targeted it and went after it and therefore feel really proud of it, but it’s an opportunity that hopefully they’re going to take in 2020. I have had a great time here and winning the gold was great.”