Few knew what to expect from golf's return to the Summer Olympic Games after a 112-year absence, but it seemed to impress even the biggest opponents.
It pleasantly surprised me. There was more people at the golf events than there was at the athletics. It was good to see, it really was. It seems like it was a great atmosphere down there. I think it was one of the cheaper tickets, as well, and I think that encouraged a lot of people to go.
To see the crowds and see the turnout, I was glad to be somewhat proven wrong.
While the event was missing some of the biggest names in the world, the podium still ended up with a few familiar faces. Justin Rose of Great Britain took home gold thanks to a great final round, followed by Sweden's Henrik Stenson earning the silver and American Matt Kuchar taking home bronze.
This finish was probably a relief considering the concerns heading into the Olympics. Many of the world's most notable players declined invitations from their respective countries, as noted by Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News:
Brad Townsend @townbrad
At least 15 male golfers have WD'd from the Olympics, including world's top 4 ranked players: Day, D. Johnson, Spieth, McIlroy.2016-7-11 15:16:00
While players like Jordan Spieth cited health concerns for withdrawing while describing the difficulty of his decision, McIlroy was honest about not wanting to compete. The Northern Irish player explained he "got into golf to win," not to "get other people into the game," per John Huggan of Golf Digest.
According to Christine Brennan of USA Today, McIlroy also explained that if he watched any of the Olympics, it would be "events like track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters."
McIlroy is a four-time major winner at just 27 years old and one of the top golfers in the world, so he has the right to choose his path. However, he might make a different decision next time.
Meanwhile, Spieth explained his plans to try to compete in the Olympics four years from now.
"At the time I made the decision, it was the right decision for me," the 23-year-old American said, per Sobel. "It was the hardest thing I've had to do. The potential for regret was going to be there and it certainly was while I was watching, so that's why I tweeted out, 'I'm looking forward to setting it as a goal to be there in 2020.'"
Jason Day is also making plans for his Olympic debut in 2020 after passing on the opportunity this summer.
"I'm looking forward to Tokyo [in 2020]," the top-ranked golfer in the world said, per Sobel. "If I can play my way on to that team, that would be great."
Based on Rose's enthusiasm during the week and afterward, it's clear he enjoyed himself:
Justin Rose @JustinRose99
Well, pretty much a week of a lifetime!! Honoured and proud to have represented @TeamGB #olympics #Rio2016 #GBR https://t.co/GWQQ7QrQ0k2016-8-17 22:44:06
There was plenty of uncertainty heading into the summer, and that led to some rash decisions, but the reactions make it seem as though the event will be much bigger next time around.
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