(ATR) Steady rain may have added to the challenge, but it couldn’t damper the enthusiasm among a diverse group of young golfers from 33 countries.
Australian Karl Vilips made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win (ATR)
Australian Karl Vilips made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to complete an unlikely comeback to defeat American Akshay Bhatia to win Youth Olympic Games gold. His four-under winning score was two strokes better than Bhatia.
“It was two-shot swings everywhere – I got to a point where I was four shots back with seven to play,” Vilips told Around the Rings
prior to receiving his gold medal, as the rain continued. “Then it started going back-and-forth so it was hard to tell who was going to come out on top, but it couldn’t have gone any better in the end.”
Vilips’ victory completed an Australian sweep of golf gold medals as Grace Kim won the ladies tournament earlier in the afternoon.
Thirty-three countries were represented among the 64 male and female teen-aged golfers who competed in the three-round tournaments in Buenos Aires.
“It’s usually the Americans, Australians and Europeans, but it’s not often we see African countries or some of the other smaller countries, so it’s very cool,” Vilips said.
The mixed team event continues the YOG golf program teeing off on Saturday at the Hurlingham Club on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Lucy Li competed for the USA (ATR)
“We’re going to play with Nigeria so we’re pretty excited to see how that will go,” said Canadian Celeste Dao.
Nigerian Georgia Oboh shot an impressive final round 71 on Thursday.
“It is wonderful that all these countries are involved in golf, and many more aren’t, so it’s a great improvement to see small countries with golfers, despite the climate, despite the travel, that they still came and took this opportunity,” Oboh said about the Buenos Aires YOG.
“I didn’t even know that they play golf in Nigeria,” said Eliska Saksa of Finland. “It’s so cool to see them here and it just says a lot about about how the game is continuing to grow,” said Eliska Saksa of Finland.
Sixteen-year-old American Luci Li amazingly qualified for and became the youngest to ever play in the U.S. Women's Open at age 11 years, eight months, doing so in 2014.
“It’s definitely really cool – the Youth Olympic Games gives golf a lot more exposure,” said Li. “It just gives a lot of these golfers from countries, where most people probably don’t play golf, some inspiration coming out here to compete.”
Coverage of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games is made possible in part by BA 2018
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Buenos Aires
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