KOREA’S Inbee Park didn’t seem like she could miss a putt on her way to an historic five stroke victory at the Rio Olympics but the Aussie pair of Minjee Lee and Su Oh were far from disgraced.
Park shot a final round 5-under 66 to close on 16-under and cruise to victory as golf returned to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.
Park fired seven birdies to keep Kiwi world No.1 and runner up Lydia Ko (69) and the third placegetter, China’s Shanshan Feng (69) at bay.
Lee and Oh both had chances of snaring bronze. Lee finished with a 4-under 67 at 8-under to be tied seventh while down the stretch Oh failed to capitalised on her third round 66, finishing with a 70 to close on 5-under tied 13th.
“I’m pretty happy with the result, especially after the first nine I was pretty far back,” Lee said.
“But I’m glad I could make a couple of birdies coming in and good one on the last to finish on good note.
“I probably could have made those putts on 16 and 17. But that’s golf – you’re not going to win all of them.
“But I feel good, like I’ve done Australia proud.”
Victoria’s Oh leapt into medal contention with great birdies on the 10th and 11th holes but came to grief with a double bogey on the 13 after a shocker of a bunker lie.
“I was playing really well, didn’t do anything bad and just hit one bad shot into a really bad place that I couldn’t recover from,” said Oh, who compounded her error with a bogie on 14 before closing with another birdie.
“It was the wrong time really. It could have happened on Thursday and I’d have finished in the same place, but it just means more at that time and place.
“That was just the one place you couldn’t really go … and I went there.”
The two Aussie 20 year olds were full of praise for the Olympic experience and were hopeful of another chance at an Olympic medal in Tokyo in four years.
“Normally you play and move on to the next week, but this is all you’ve got. It’s different, I first thought play like another tournament, but it’s not; it’s the Olympics and it’s a special tournament,” Oh said.
“I wanted to do my best because it’s not just another week. It doesn’t come every week.
“When I had that (bad) hole and it’s not like me to get emotional, but I knew I was out of it. I wanted to finish strong and make the best of it.
“But the week overall is unforgettable – that I can call myself an Olympian is quite special. I’m already looking forward to the next one in Tokyo if I can get there again.”
The normally unflappable Lee conceded there was more pressure than a “normal” week on tour.
“You want to medal. You’re always playing for your country, but here you’re really playing for your country. It was such an honour,” she said.
“You always play for Australia, but here you’re really playing for Australia – it’s a different sort of pressure, but it feels good, playing for your whole country.”
The 28 year old Park can now add an Olympic gold medal to her seven major victories.
Final leaderboard:RIO OLYMPICS WOMENS GOLF FINAL RESULTS