By Ali Stafford
Xander Schauffele secured gold for Team USA in the men’s Olympic golf competition, as Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey narrowly missed out on a medal.
Schauffele overcame a back-nine wobble to card a four-under 67 at Kasumigaseki Country Club, seeing the world No 5 end the week on 18 under and a shot clear of Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini.
Sabbatini had jumped up the leaderboard on the final day after firing an eagle and 10 birdies on his way to a record-breaking 61, while CT Pan came through a seven-man play-off to snatch bronze on the fourth extra hole.
Schauffele started the day one ahead and quickly extended his advantage after following back-to-back birdies over his first two holes by taking advantage of the par-five fifth and tapping in at the eighth.
The American had to scramble to salvage a bogey at the 14th after hitting his tee shot into trees, only to move back ahead with a six-foot birdie at the 17th and seal victory with a four-foot putt for par on the final green.
McIlroy mixed six birdies with two bogeys on his way to a second successive 67, seeing him move to 15 under, with Casey birdieing two of the last four holes to close a final-round 68 to also join the logjam of players in tied-third.
Collin Morikawa, winner of The Open last month, carded a bogey-free 63 to also get to 15 under alongside McIlroy, Casey, Pan, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, Mito Pereira and Sebastian Munoz.
The players were divided into two groups for the play-off, with Casey and Matsuyama eliminated with bogeys at the first extra hole – played on the par-four 11th – and McIlroy holing from six feet to stay in the contest.
All five remaining golfers were unable to convert birdie chances on the next extra hole, while Morikawa fired his approach at the third play-off hole to within inches of the cup to set-up a tap-in birdie.
Pan also fired his approach close to match Morikawa’s birdie, taking the contest to a fourth hole, as McIlroy joined Munoz and Pereira in exiting the contest after being unable to find a birdie of his own.
Morikawa was left with a horrendous plugged lie in the bunker on the fourth hole and made bogey, as Pan pitched to eight feet and converted the par putt to secure a medal for Chinese Taipei.
Team GB’s Tommy Fleetwood ended the week tied-16th after a one-under 70, while Ireland’s Shane Lowry dropped to a share of 22nd despite finishing his final-round 71 with three birdies in the final five holes.
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