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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 208
T RY telling Gerina Piller that Olympics golf means nothing. If Justin Rose and the rest of the men sold the Olympic dream with their boundless enthusiasm for an event that has waged a battle for respect and legitimacy since it was announced as an Olympic sport in 2009, on the women’s side it was Piller’s grief at seeing her medal dream fade that exemplified why golf has a future at the Games. The American was a selection afterthought for Rio, having been well outside calculations until a couple of months ago, when a tie for eighth at the US Women’s Open saw her scrape into the world’s top 15 and earn a late call-up onto the US squad. Just wearing her country’s red, white and blue might have been honour enough for a player who’s never recorded a top-five result in any of the women’s five majors, and is yet to win a professional tournament. And yet when confronted with the chance to win an Olympic medal – of any colour – and having that dream ripped away after a disappointing final round, the 31-year- old was devastated. Piller wept as she left the Olympic Golf Course’s 18th green and couldn’t be consoled, even as she bravely signed autographs and posed for photographs with the legions of fans who’d turned out and made the tournament the success it was. The pain was as raw as anything we saw from any of the hundreds of medal favourites across all sports in Rio who were unable to fulfil their dream on the world’s biggest stage. “I didn’t even think I had a chance to be here, so to come and to be in contention is all I can really ask for,” Piller said. But having started her final round in the bronze medal position, Piller did dare to ask herself for more. And when things didn’t fall into place on Saturday, with five bogeys and only two birdies along with four consecutive missed birdie putts over the last four holes, the reality that her unlikely medal quest was over hurt just as much as if she’d been one of the short-priced favourites who’d missed out. The way in which the world’s best female players moved heaven and earth to ensure they were available to pull on their country’s colours in Rio proves that Olympic golf has a bright future. Gold medallist Inbee Park has barely been relevant on the LPGA Tour this year, having been unsighted since early June, withdrawing after the first round at three events and missing the cut at two more as she battled ongoing injury issues. But come hell or high water she was going to be on the plane to Rio, and now she’s golf’s only female gold medal winner in history.
GA Express 207
GA Express 209