Though golf was officially re-introduced to the Olympics at Rio 2016, the sport may see a spike in popularity following some dramatic and crowd-pleasing results at the Tokyo Games, where Team USA struck gold in both the men's and women's events.
Some big names, including the United States' World No. 2 Dustin Johnson, opted out of the Olympics citing COVID concerns or a desire to remain on the tour. Others -- such as Team USA's Bryson DeChambeau and Spain's Jon Rahm -- tested positive for coronavirus ahead of the Games and were unable to participate. Those who did compete in Japan found themselves navigating exciting, challenging courses that included top-tier opponents and unpredictable weather conditions
Relive the final rounds of play below.
All three Rio Olympic men's golf medalists missed qualifying for Tokyo, so the field was wide open when the tournament started on July 29 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.
Austria's Sepp Straka played some of the best golf of his life in the first round with four birdies in the last six holes. He finished with an eight-under par of 63 and took the lead by a stroke ahead of Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond. Two players tied for third: Mexico's Carlos Ortiz and Belgium's Thomas Pieters. Both ended up six-under par.
The United States' World No. 3 Collin Morikawa, who had recently won The Open Championship, finished the day two-under par. Masters champion and Japanese fan favorite Hideki Matsuyama ended the round with the same score.
At the end of the first round, no U.S. player had cracked the leaderboard's top ten.
An unexpected American star emerged on Friday's round two: Xander Schauffele, who shot a sparkling eight-under 63.
The 27-year-old California native made his father Stefan proud as he roared home with three consecutive birdies, passing Ortiz for the outright lead with an 11-under total of 131.
Moments after Schauffele's putt, play was suspended and then abandoned due to a torrential downpour. Though most of the field had played through 18 holes, several at the top had yet to complete the second round.
On Saturday, those Olympians formally finished off round two, leaving Schauffele, Ortiz, and Matsuyama a clean first, second and third. That lasted about an hour before round three started on another scorching afternoon.
Schauffele stayed steady, solidifying his lead with a three-under par to produce a 14-under total. Matsuyama moved into second, while Ortiz's 12-under forced him to share third place with Great Britain's Paul Casey. Four golfers were tied for fifth, and two for ninth.
With 10 players at 10-under par, round four was destined to become an absolute battle for the final word.
Round four saw a shocker that totally disrupted the top ten: Slovakia's Rory Sabbatini leapfrogged 16 players with a jaw-dropping 10-under par 61, setting a record for best-ever Olympic golf score.
Calling the 45-year-old South African-born Sabbatini's silver medal performance unexpected is an understatement; the Slovakian achieved his highest PGA ranking of World No. 8 back in September 2007. He finished his four days 17-under par.
With a logjam of golfers breathing down his neck, Schauffele maintained focus and delivered a memorable third shot on the 18th hole to win gold with an 18-under par and 266 total.
That's when the drama really began.
Seven golfers -- including Matsuyama and the USA's Morikawa -- each tied for third, with a 269 total. It was an unprecedented situation, and prompted a chaotic playoff deathmatch.
Seven turned to five as Matsuyama and Casey were eliminated after the first playoff hole. Then Colombia's Sebastian Munoz, Chile's Mito Pereira, and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy were booted following the third. Down to just Taiwan's C.T. Pan and Morikawa in the fourth hole, the American sunk a shot deep into a sandpit, next to a slope.
And with that, C.T. claimed bronze.
"For me, I really wanted to win for my dad," Schauffele said in a post-competition interview. "I'm sure he's crying somewhere here right now."
Gold: Xander Schauffele
Silver: Rory Sabbatini
Bronze: C.T. Pan
Round one of competition began amid brutally hot conditions at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on August 4. All three medalists from the Rio 2016 Games competed against 57 other golfers from 30 countries.
Through 18 holes, Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom shot a five-under par 66 to take a one-stroke lead. Just behind her, India's Aditi Ashok and Team USA's World No. 1 Nelly Korda tied for second with a four-under par 67.
Round two saw the 23-year-old Korda dominate, scoring a nine-under par 62.
Blasting to first with four strokes between her and the trio of Ashok and Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristin Pedersen in second, the American tied the Olympic golf record for lowest round, set by Russia’s Maria Verchenova at the 2016 Rio Games. Perhaps Korda's biggest highlight was an eagle on the sixth.
Temperatures exceeding 100 degrees prompted officials to provide carts with ice and cold towels, though an impending tropical storm stirred discussions about whether competition would even last four rounds.
To avoid blistering conditions, the third round implemented split tees.
Korda maintained her lead by scoring two-under par to give her total of 15-under on 194 strokes. Her first-place position was a bit more vulnerable as Ashok scored three-under par for second place, with an 12-under total.
The round ended with a four-way tie for third: Japan's Mone Inami became a serious contender, her score matched by New Zealand's Lydia Ko -- who won silver in Rio -- as well as Australia's Hannah Green and Denmark's Pedersen.
A nervous Korda didn't have much breathing room in round four, and she initially struggled to stay on top. At least a dozen golfers were well within striking distance of gold, spurring those other leaders to take some chances in the hopes of surging into first. The World No. 1 took the opposite approach: She hesitated often and opted for a more conservative strategy.
This proved disastrous during the seventh hole, in which the American double-bogeyed and erased her two-under lead completely. In doing so, she briefly tied Ko and Ashok for first.
But Korda bounced back immediately, with birdies on the eighth, ninth, and tenth holes to hold tight to first place.
The horn blew just as golfers completed their 17th hole, as a predicted thunderstorm appeared. Thick rain splattered the camera and athletes exited the course for a 30-minute delay.
When they returned to play, Inami and Ko applied heavy pressure. They threatened to take the top spot all the way through the 18th hole, but Korda caught a huge break when Inami drove a ball into a sandpit. Immediately afterwards, the American clinched gold.
The bronze-silver playoff was nowhere near as epic as the men's seven-way tie for third, but still provided plenty of drama. Inami managed par for an under-16 tournament total, while Ko bogied to win bronze -- adding to the silver she won at Rio 2016.
Asked what she proved today in a post-competition interview, Korda said quite simply: "[I have] a lot of fight."
By clinching gold, Korda became the first American woman to win an Olympic golf medal since Margaret Abbott in 1900.
Gold: Nelly Korda
Silver: Mone Inami
Bronze: Lydia Ko