RIO DE JANEIRO -- Justin Rose delivered a gold-medal performance in golf that was worth a 112-year wait.
In a final round that was tense from the opening hole, Rose hit a pitch to 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 18th hole at Olympic Golf Course for a 4-under 67 and a 2-shot victory over Henrik Stenson to win the first gold medal in golf since 1904 in St. Louis.
And the 36-year-old from Great Britain showed how much it mattered.
As the final putt fell into the cup, Rose thrust his fist into the air and popped the British crest on his shirt before turning to embrace Stenson.
Stenson already made it through one big duel this summer at Royal Troon to win the British Open. Along the back nine, the 40-year-old Swede's back began to act up, and Stenson had a physiotherapist work on it on the 14th hole. He kept firing away, however, hitting a tough pitch to 4 feet for birdie on the 16th to tie for the lead.
They remained tied playing the 18th, with fans lining both sides of the fairway and crammed into the grandstands. Stenson's pitch from 50 yards came up short, just over 20 feet away. Knowing that Rose was tight for birdie, Stenson rammed his birdie putt some 7 feet by the cup and missed the par putt, giving him a 3-under 68.
The bogey wasn't enough to take the silver away from Stenson.
Matt Kuchar of the United States, starting the final round seven shots out of the lead, provided his own thrills. Kuchar went 6 under during a six-hole stretch that he capped off with a 15-foot eagle on the 10th hole to get him in the mix, and his wedge to 2 feet for birdie on the 17th put him one shot behind.
He failed to birdie the 18th, however, and his 63 was good enough for the bronze.
"I can't explain the pride to you that's just busting out of my chest," Kuchar said.
Australia's Marcus Fraser, playing with Rose and Stenson on the final day, failed to go with the two major winners and dropped out of contention with four bogeys on the front nine.
He steadied late and birdied the last hole for a one-over 73 to tie for fifth on eight-under, a shot behind Belgian Thomas Pieters.
The clubhouse leader after two rounds, Fraser started Sunday three behind Rose at -9 but never challenged.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I think I had the chance to be here, let alone mixing it with those guys over four rounds at such a big event," he said.
"It was very pleasing, I just didn't have much in me on the weekend. My game was pretty scrappy and I didn't deserve to have a medal but I felt I fought as hard as I could."
Rose is the first gold medalist in golf since George Lyon of Canada won against a field of mostly Americans. Golf organizations lobbied hard to get the sport back into the Olympics, only for some of the biggest stars -- including the top four in the world -- to withdraw in the month leading up to the Rio Games for reasons that ranged from fears over the Zika virus to security.
The lasting memory of its debut was Rose and Stenson going at it for more than five hours, neither with more than a 1-stroke advantage the entire round. And there was Rose at the end, pumping his fists as the fans waved the Union Jack around the 18th green.