Golfers Grace and Vilips turn Buenos Aires green and gold

Australia’s Kim Grace and Karl Vilips drove, chipped and putted their way to victory in the women’s and men’s individual strokeplay competitions at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 on Thursday 11 October.

Picture by Buenos Aires 2018

Starting the day at level par, Grace shot a one-over-par 71 at the Hurlingham Club to win the women’s gold medal by three shots.

“It’s fantastic and it’s one of my best ever achievements,” said the victorious Grace, who dropped two shots in the opening four holes of her final round, but held her nerve to close out the win. “I’m very proud of what I’ve done. I had a good start on Wednesday, which really helped me, and it was my best day of the three.”

Three players were tied on +4 behind the Australian: Italy’s Alessia Nobilio, Austria’s Emma Spitz and Philippines’ Yuka Saso, who shot 69 in the third and final round, the lowest score of the day.

In the ensuing sudden-death play-off for the silver and bronze, Nobilio birdied the Par 4 1st to claim second place, with Spitz parring the hole to take the bronze, while the unlucky Saso’s bogey left her out of the medals.

Buenos Aires 2018

In the men’s competition, Vilips shot a one-under-par 69 to finish two shots clear of the field on -4. The USA’s Akshay Bhatia went round in a level-par 70 to secure the silver, while the Netherlands’ Jerry Ji compiled a fine 68 to claim the bronze.

Buenos Aires 2018

“I’m delighted,” said Vilips, who made up for a double bogey and three bogeys in his final round with six birdies. “I’ve had three hard weeks preparing for the tournament and I never thought I’d experience something like this. It’s a relief to get the job done.” 

Grace and Vilips will be warm favourites for gold again when they join forces in the mixed team competition, which gets under way on Saturday 13 October, with 32 nations taking part in all.

Buenos Aires 2018