Lydia Ko survived a tense, see-sawing final day, including a play-off for the silver medal, and eventually earned the bronze in the women’s golf tournament today.
Later she dedicated it to her grandmother, who died just before the tournament, and to her country.
It is the New Zealander’s second successive Olympic medal, following the silver she picked up in Rio in 2016.
Four golfers vied for the medals most of the final day.
American Nellie Kora began the day three strokes ahead of Indian surprise package Aditi Ashok and five ahead of Ko and Japan’s hope, Mone Inami.
In the final round, Korda shot a 69 to finish 17 under, Inami and Ko 65s for 16 under and Ashok 68 for 15 under.
Ko, 24, began the day in superb fashion, carding birdies on the second, third, fourth and fifth holes. Inami and Ashok faltered and when Korda fired a double bogey on the seventh, she was suddenly sharing the lead with Ko at 14 under.
However, after a sensational first nine of 31, Ko had successive bogeys, which took away much of her momentum. Inami fought back and Ashok lingered nearby.
Korda always looked the most likely winner, but nothing was sure, especially when Ko birdied 13, 14 and 15 to put herself right back in the reckoning.
When rain and lightning caused play to be temporarily halted while the leaders were on the 17th, Korda was 17 under, Inami 16th under and Ashok and Ko were at 15 under.
But Ko and Inami birdied the 17th. That meant going to the final hole, Ko needed a birdie to draw level with the leaders.
Korda parred safely, Inami found herself with an awkward lie in a bunker and bogeyed and Ko missed a long putt for the birdie she was looking for. She left herself a putt of just over a metre to ensure a medal and breathed a sigh of relief when she sank it.
In the silver medal play-off with Inami, Ko’s drive found the fairway bunker and she lost the hole.
A feature of Ko’s play on the last day was how much she seemed to be enjoying herself. A smile was never far away, she high-fived Korda after the American sank a putt and then said admiringly, “a beauty” when Korda drove down the 18th. When Korda won the tournament, Ko went across and hugged her instantly.
Ko was equally generous spirited towards Inami during the play-off.
Later Ko said it had been an exceptionally emotional week for her.
“We got the news that my grandmother had died when I was flying here,” she said. “In a normal week I’m not sure I would have competed.
“But I wanted to do well for my grandmother, to make her proud.”
Ko thought she played very solidly.
“There were a couple of bits I could have done better, but you always feel that. I’d like to have won a different colour medal, but I was very grateful to be one of the three medallists.”
She said she hoped she’d be able to feed off the momentum of her good week in Tokyo while she played the rest of the season.Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games