South Korea's Inbee Park won the women's golf gold medal ©Rio 2016

South Korea's Inbee Park was crowned the first Olympic women's golf champion for 116 years as she produced a superb fourth round performance to finish five shots clear of New Zealand's Lydia Ko in Rio de Janeiro. 

The seven-time major winner ended the Rio 2016 tournament at the Olympic Golf Course on an impressive 16-under-par by carding a 66.

World number one Ko was forced to settle for the silver medal on 11-under.

The bronze medal went to China's Shanshan Feng, who threatened to challenge early on before faltering on her way to finishing on 10-under-par.

Japan's Harukyo Nomura, American Stacy Lewis and South Korea's Hee Young Yang were all a stroke further adrift, meaning they agonisingly missed a place on the Olympic podium.

"I feel extremely honoured and proud that I get to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games," Park said.

"It feels truly unreal."

The debate over golf's inclusion at the Games dominated the build-up to Rio 2016 following the withdrawal of all of the top four men's golfers, though only South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace pulled out of the women's competition, citing concerns over the Zika virus.

Park is the first woman to be crowned as the women's Olympic golf champion since America's Margaret Abbott won at Paris in 1900. 

She never received a gold medal because she was given a bowl. 

Abbott never knew that they were competing in the Olympics, she thought it was a normal golf tournament and died not knowing. 

Her children had no idea that their mother was the first ever American female gold medalist until they were contacted by University of Florida professor Paula Welch, who had spent 10 years trying to trace the family. 

Inbee Park shot a five-under 66 on her way to the top of the podium ©Getty Images
Inbee Park shot a five-under 66 on her way to the top of the podium ©Getty Images

Park is confident the sport will grow as a result of its Olympic appearance, insisting many who might be unfamiliar with the game would have tuned in over the past four days.

"I think golf is going to get more popular after a lot of people watched golf today," she added. 

"Even people who don't like golf have watched golf this week."

Park came into the fourth and final day with a two-shot cushion but quickly extended her lead thanks to four birdies on the front nine.

Her display laid down the gauntlet for the rest of the field and the gap was briefly reduced when Park bogeyed the 10th and Feng birdied the next hole.

Feng and the rest of the field were not able to keep pace with the South Korean, who wrapped up victory with birdies on the 13th, 15th and 17th as she earned her third five-under-par round of 66 of the competition.

Her triumph may have come as a surprise to many as she has only played once competitively since June due to an ongoing thumb problem.

"I am just so happy to be standing on the highest spot on the podium," Park said.

"I have won many tournaments but I have never felt this before."

All six medallists across the men's and women's events at Rio 2016 came from different countries as Britain's Justin Rose, Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar of the United States claimed a place on the men's podium.