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Battle royale for bronze: C.T. Pan survives 7-way playoff for 3rd place in Olympic golf final

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Gold and silver were settled in regulation at the Olympic golf final on Sunday.

American Xander Schauffele survived a final-round 10-under par 61 from Slovakia's Rory Sabbatini to secure gold at 18-under. Sabbatini's surge was good for silver at 17-under.

Bronze was a different story. 

Seven players stood tied at 15-under after 72 holes. Since the Olympics don't award seven bronze medals, all seven went to a playoff until one man stood alone. It took four extra holes to get there. But Chinese Taipei's C.T. Pan outplayed three major champions, including a final-hole duel with reigning British Open champion Collin Morikawa, to win bronze.

C.T. Pan survived a seven-way playoff that included three major champions to win Olympic bronze. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
C.T. Pan survived a seven-way playoff that included three major champions to win Olympic bronze. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Japan's Matsuyama missed putt for bronze in regulation

BJapan's Hideki Matsuyama had a chance to secure a somewhat storybook ending with a makable birdie putt for bronze at No. 18 in regulation. ut his effort drifted high, and he joined Pan, Morikawa (USA), Rory McIlroy (Ireland), Mito Pereira (Chile), Sebastian Munoz (Colombia) and Paul Casey (Great Britain) at the 18th tee for a playoff at the Kasumigaseki Country Club. 

Unfortunately for Matsuyma, his par putt on the first playoff hole met the same fate and his birdie effort, and he was eliminated. As was Casey. The other five players carded pars and moved onto the par-3 10th for playoff hole No. 2. 

From 7 to 5 to 2

After playing in two groups on 18, they combined for a fivesome on No. 10. Pereira was closest to the pin and faced a putt for bronze after everyone else came up short with their birdie efforts. His missed, and all five moved on to the par 4 11th after sinking par putts.

Morikawa was shortest off the tee after hitting 3-wood. But he leaned on his superior iron play and nearly hit the pin on his approach before his ball landed within a foot of the hole. Pan joined him near the pin with his own spectacular approach, while McIlroy and Pereira converted big drives into makable birdie putts. 

But Pereira's putt lipped painfully out, while McIlroy's flirted with the high side of the cup before scooting by. They joined Munoz — whose birdie chip didn't fall —in elimination. Morikawa and Pan made their gimme birdies to move on to a two-man playoff back at No. 18.

C.T. Pan outlasted Colin Morikawa on the fourth playoff hole. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
C.T. Pan outlasted Colin Morikawa on the fourth playoff hole. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Morikawa can't overcome disastrous approach

Both players' tee shots landed in the rough — Pan on the left and Morikiawa on the right. Pan's approach missed the green, but landed on the safe side long and left. Morikawa's did not meet the same fate. He cleared the water short and right of the green. But his ball plugged in the upside lip of a greenside bunker, leaving him with a nearly impossible up-and-down. 

He got out and onto the green but was well short of the hole. He pulled his par putt long, giving Pan a look at par for bronze after he chipped on. His putt was pure, and he joined Schauffele and Sabbatini as Olympic medalists in Tokyo.

Pan, 29, arrived in Tokyo with three professional wins on his résumé, with one coming on the PGA Tour at the 2019 RBC Heritage. His best finish at a major was a tie for seventh at the 2020 Masters. 

Now, he's an Olympic bronze medalist. 

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