Masters of the Greens: Golf’s greatest YOG moments

12 Nov 2020
IOC News YOG Golf

As the world’s leading male golfers vie for the prestigious green jacket at this month’s Masters Tournament, which gets underway at Augusta National Golf Club on 12 November, looks back at the sport’s highlights from the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Nanjing 2014 and Buenos Aires 2018.

Lee’s faultless final round clinches first YOG gold

A flawless, bogey-free final round helped the Republic of Korea’s Lee So-young top the podium in the women’s individual event at the YOG Nanjing 2014, as she became the first gold medallist in an Olympic golf event in more than 100 years, and the sport’s first-ever YOG champion. Holding a two-stroke lead after the opening two rounds, the 17-year-old fired seven birdies in a closing 65 to finish 14-under-par, three strokes ahead of her nearest rival, Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ssu-Chia.

“I was trying hard not to think about the gold medal,” said Lee after the round. “I played really solid today and made seven birdies and no bogeys. To win the first Olympic gold medal in golf in more than 100 years is an amazing feeling.”

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Historic ace for Canadian Gil

Tony Gil etched his name into the record books during the opening round of the men’s individual event at the YOG Nanjing 2014, as he hit the first hole-in-one in Olympic history. Standing on the tee of the 164-yard third hole at Zhongshan International Golf Club, the Canadian’s sweetly struck 7-iron shot saw the ball take one bounce before landing in the cup, although the 16-year-old didn’t initially realise he had holed out for an ace.

“I knew I’d hit it close, but didn’t know it was in until I went to the green and saw the ball in the hole,” he said. Upon hearing that he had made history with the first hole-in-one in an Olympic competition, Gil added: “That’s very cool. It was actually the first hole-in-one in my career too!”

Tense play-offs decide team medals

There was a dramatic finish to the mixed team event at the YOG Nanjing 2014, with two sudden-death play-offs required to decide the podium places. In the end, it was the Swedish pairing of Marcus Kinhult and Linnea Strom who came out on top, as Kinhult holed an eight-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to defeat the Korean duo of Lee So-young and Youm Eun Ho.

“I feel so happy and proud winning the gold medal,” said Kinhult afterwards. “It’s fun to play as a team and it’s more enjoyable than individual games. To be part of the team, to be part of the Olympics and to win the gold medal has been so much fun.”

The bronze medal was also decided by a play-off, with the Italian team of Renato Paratore and Virginia Elena Carta, and Denmark’s John Paul Pultz Pinnerup Axelsen and Emily Kristine Pedersen, finishing tied on 14-under-par. It took just one extra hole to separate the teams, with Paratore and Carta both making par to clinch the bronze.

“We were hoping to win but we are OK with the bronze medal,” said Paratore, who had earlier won gold in the men’s individual event.

Birdie blitz sees Vilips triumph

Australia’s Karl Vilips entered the final round of the men’s individual event at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 with a one-stroke lead over the USA’s Akshay Bhatia, but with six holes to play it looked like it would be the American left-hander who clinched gold at the Argentine capital’s historic Hurlingham Club. In wet conditions, Bhatia had opened up a three-stroke lead over his Australian rival, but a costly double-bogey at the 14th opened the door for Vilips, who dramatically birdied four of the final six holes to leapfrog Bhatia and secure the YOG title.

“I never thought I could achieve something like this,” said Vilips afterwards. “It’s a dream come true to have done what I’ve done here.”

Mixed teams go low in gold medal bids

The mixed team event at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018 saw a flurry of birdies across the three rounds, with some of the lowest scores ever seen at the Games.

Italy’s Alessia Nobilio and Andrea Romano stole the show in the opening round, firing nine birdies and an eagle in their better-ball 57, which also included a spectacular hole-in-one for Romano at the ninth.

The second-round foursomes then saw Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul and Vanchai Luangnitikul move to the top of the leaderboard as they combined for a 68, giving them a one-stroke advantage over the Italian duo heading into the final day’s play.

With both players’ scores counting towards the team total in the final round, there was plenty of drama in the chase for the medals. A superb 66 from Akshay Bhatia and a 71 for Lucy Li looked to have secured gold for the USA as they moved five shots clear of the Thai pairing with just three holes to play. But two closing birdies from Thitikul saw her and Luangnitikul pip the Americans to gold, bringing the Buenos Aires 2018 golf events to a thrilling conclusion.


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