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24-Karat Golf

by Mike Purkey

For all the doubters and naysayers, for those who thought major championships and biennial cups were enough for big-time golf, for those who chose to stay home and watch (maybe), we give you the Olympic Games.

Not merely the idea of five rings and three medals but the people who made the difficult decision to come to Rio and compete, despite potential for disease and stories about the goings on outside the Olympic village.

To a man and woman, the participants sang from on high about the privilege of representing their respective countries on a stage much bigger than golf’s global village. Matt Kuchar talked about pride that exploded out of his chest. There must be a mountain of difference between finishing third and receiving a bronze medal.

Inbee Park, whose career seemed to be in jeopardy after suffering a debilitating injury to her thumb, missed two major championships but wouldn’t have dreamed of missing the Olympics. Despite being only 80 percent healed – in her estimation – she bravely and gingerly played 72 holes of golf that was ultimately decided with her putting stroke, as sublime a motion as has ever been.

Ask Justin Rose to trade his gold medal for another major and you might get a fight.

Does golf belong in the Olympics? Many who originally said no have been more than swayed. When the Games come around again in 2020, there is likely to be a mad dash to qualify for Tokyo.

Granted, Japan likely won’t have the issues that kept many from coming to Rio but those who opted out this year have no doubt seen the light cast by the Olympic flame.

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