Rio 2016: Rose welcomes Luis Figo's Olympic golf interest


Gold medal winner Justin Rose says the congratulations he received from former football superstar Luis Figo demonstrates the reach made possible by golf's return to the Olympic Games.

Great Britain's Rose defeated Henrik Stenson of Sweden by two strokes after a duel that went to the final hole in Rio on Sunday.

And the 36-year-old claimed that attracting attention from the likes of Wayne Rooney and Figo, the 2000 Ballon d'Or winner, demonstrates the value of competing at the quadrennial showpiece event.

"I didn't even know he was a golfer, per se," Rose told Sky Sports when asked about former Real Madrid and Barcelona superstar Figo.

"So when someone like that comes out of left field, it just shows what a huge reach the Olympic Games has. 

"I'd imagine that wouldn't happen for me winning a major championship. But for some reason the Olympics really catches everyone's imagination."

Golf's presence at the Olympics is only guaranteed until the 2020 Games in Tokyo, although Rose hopes the sport can follow the example of tennis, which returned to the stage as a full medal sport in 1988, with gold now highly prized by the game's biggest stars.

"Having won it, now I'd love to see golf have a great legacy in the Olympics and carry on," he said.

"I hope it can be like the tennis. You saw the emotion Andy Murray showed, how much it meant to him," he said of the world number two, who defeated Juan Martin del Potro to retain his men's singles title.

"I think we did everything we could. Anybody who was in Rio on the Sunday could realise how much of a fun and exciting sport golf can be."