Rory McIlroy playing five-way playoff for Olympic bronze while Shane Lowry finishes 22nd
Rory McIlroy closed with a battling 67 to end up in a seven-way playoff for bronze but missed out on a medal at the third sudden-death hole as Xander Schauffele made a clutch up and down for par at the last to deny Slovakia’s Rory Sabbatini Olympic gold at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
he Hollywood golfer missed a five-footer for birdie while CT Pan and Collin Morikawa made their own birdie putts before Pan would win out on the fourth extra hole to take the final podium place.
South Africa-born Sabbatini (45) shot an incredible, 10-under 61 to set the target at 17-under but Schauffele, who was four clear after eight holes, recovered from a bogey at the 14th with a brave birdie at the 17th and a gutsy up and down from nearly 100 yards for par at the last to become Olympic champion on 18-under after a final round 67.
McIlroy narrowly missed from 15 feet at the last to finish solo third on 16-under and could have been denied the chance to battle for bronze but Paul Casey (68) and Hideki Matsuyama (69) also both missed for birdies at the last, the Englishman from 35 feet and the Masters champion from just 12 feet.
That left them in a seven-way tie for third with the Holywood star, Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan (63), American Collin Morikawa (63), Chile’s Mito Pereira (67), Sebastián Muñoz (67) on 15-under.
As for Shane Lowry, who was tied for ninth overnight just two strokes outside the top three, he closed with a disappointing level par 71 to tie for 22nd on 10-under.
His medal hopes evaporated as he bogeyed the par-three fourth and double-bogeyed the ninth to turn in 39 before he repaired the damage with birdies at the 14th, 16th and 17th.
McIlroy began the day tied for fifth on 11-under, three shots behind Schauffele and only one stroke outside the medals
But he got off to a slow start, opening with four pars before he got up and down from sand at the par-five fifth for his first birdie of the day.
He was five adrift of Schauffele, who birdied the first two holes, then picked up further shots at the par-five fifth and eighth holes to turn in 32 and get to 18-under.
With Sabbatini racing into second by playing his first 14 holes in nine-under, Mcllroy needed to make a move.
He birdied the sixth from 12 feet to move up to tied third but while he pulled his approach into a swale at the par-three seventh and failed to get up and down, he bounced back with back to back birdies at the eighth and ninth to keep his medal hopes alive.
After making a seven footer for birdie at the par-five eighth, he then hit a stellar 167-yard approach to eight feet at the toughest hole on the course and poured in the putt.
He made the turn in three-under 33 and headed into the back nine tied for fifth on 14-under, just a shot outside the medals.
Sabbatini went on to follow a bogey at the 16th with birdies at the 17th and 18th to set the target at 17-under with that Olympic record, 10-under 61.
Schauffele was a shot clear on 18-under with five to play but drove into the trees at the 14th and was forced to take a penalty drop, eventually running up a bogey six to fall back into a tie for the lead with Sabbatini on 17-under, one clear of Matsuyama.
McIlroy bogeyed the 15th, however, chunking his attempt punch out of the rough en route to a bogey that dropped him into a five-way tie for seventh on 14-under.
He then chuckled as he came up well short of the green at the par-three 16th before getting up and down for par.
Needing at least a birdie in the last two holes to have a chance of a medal, he came up short of the green at the driveable 17th but bravely rolled in an eight footer to move into a tie for third on 15-under with Pan (63), Morikawa (63), Mito Pareira (67), Sebastián Muñoz and Matsuyama, who three-putted the 15th.
A massive drive down the 18th left him only a nine-iron and while he left himself a 16 footer, it came up short and low for closing 67.
Matsuyama had a chance to claim outright third at the 17th but missed from eight feet as Schauffele made a six footer to remain the lead on 18-under.
At the 18th, Matsuyama hit a stellar fairway bunker shot to 12 feet and Casey a similar shot to 35 feet.
Both missed, however, leaving McIlroy in that seven-man sudden-death playoff with Pan, Morikawa, Pareira and Muñoz heading off in the first group before McIlroy joined Casey and Matsuyama in the second.
Casey and Matsuyama bogeyed the first hole to drop out of medal contention, while McIlroy made par and is now in a battle between five players for bronze. All five involved made pars on the second playoff hole and moved on to a third sudden death hole.
After a series of stunning approach shots from Pan, Morikawa, Pereira and McIlroy, the latter two missed their putts from eight and five feet respectively, as did Munoz from distance. This left Pan and Morikawa to move to a fourth sudden-death hole where Pan would eventually win out after the Open champion bogeyed.
More to follow...