Nanjing, China: Lee So-young played a near perfect final round to strike gold in the Women’s Individual Stroke Play competition at the Youth Olympic Games and lead an Asian sweep of the medals.
With no bogeys and seven birdies the 17-year-old Korean fired a closing 65 to finish on 14-under-par at Zhongshan International Golf Club. That was three shots ahead of her nearest rival Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ssu-chia, who won the Silver Medal.
Supamas Sangchan, from Thailand, finished four shots further back to claim the Bronze.
The three medallists finished clear of the field with Virginia Elena Carta of Italy and Germany’s Olivia Cowan next best placed on two-under-par.
Lee played brilliantly in the final round, going out in 32 strokes for the front nine with birdies at the first, fourth, sixth and seventh before carrying that form into her final nine holes with further birdies on the 13th, 15th and 18th.
Lee said: “I was trying hard not to think about the Gold Medal. I played really solid today. To win the first Olympic Gold Medal in golf in more than 100 years, even though it is the Youth Olympic Games, is an amazing feeling.”
Cheng matched Lee for much of the final round but couldn’t claw back the two-shot gap between them at the start of the day and after failing to pick up a shot on the par-three 17th she failed to match Lee’s birdie at the 18th to finish three shots behind.
She said: “I was hoping to win a medal before I came here. A Silver makes me very happy. I played with Lee before, we know each other. She is a really good player. I congratulate her, she played really well.
“I’m looking forward to the mixed team event. We should have a good chance. We have some chemistry between each other and both of us played well here this week.”
Thai Supamas closed with a 70 to take the Bronze, a feat matched by her countryman Danthai Boonma in the Men’s competition.
The 18-year-old Supamas, from Panya Indra Golf Club, Bangkok, has won amateur events in Malaysia and Singapore this year and was delighted to add the Bronze Medal to her trophy cabinet.
“I feel happy. I thought today would be better but this is enough for me,” she said. “Before the day started, I was feeling excited because this is the final day. I couldn’t close the gap on Lee and Cheng, they played great. The result is okay for me.”
Meanwhile, Italy’s Renato Paratore overturned a three-shot deficit at the start of the day, moving from fifth to first, to win Gold in the Men’s Individual Stroke Play.
The young Italian shot a 66, meaning he was 11-under-par for his last 36 holes, to beat Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult into second place.
Paratore, ranked fifth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, birdied the 17th and 18th to go from being one behind to one in front and then had a nervous wait as Kinhult came down the 18th.
“I was nervous watching Marcus playing the last hole but it is really nice to win the Gold Medal. My father is here and he is really excited for me.”
Thai Danthai started the day in second and shot 73 and looked set to miss out on a medal until Norway’s Victor Hovland bogeyed the 18th meaning the two players would play-off for the Bronze Medal.
It took two trips down the 18th to separate the pair but following a poor tee shot Hovland missed the green short right while Boonma hit it pin high to 10 feet. Hovland couldn’t get up and down, allowing Boonma a simple two putt for Bronze.