After an exciting men’s tournament won by Justin Rose, the women’s Olympic golf competition gets underway tomorrow in Rio. Charley Hull and Catriona Matthew will represent Team GB.
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull of England will be hoping to follow the example set by Justin Rose in the men’s Olympic golf competition and bring home a gold medal from the first Olympic games to feature golf since 1904.
Matthew, who watched Rose triumph is keen to follow in the Englishman’s footsteps in the women’s Olympic golf competition. “Hopefully we can do the same as him,” she said. “He played well all week and to have such a close finish with Henrik was just great for golf.”
The Field in Rio
60 women will tee it up and, unlike in the men’s game, there have been few high profile withdrawals with the top players keen to showcase their sport.
World Number 1 Lydia Ko has described the Olympics as the focus of her year and, of this year’s Major champions, only U.S. Women’s Open winner Brittany Lang will be absent. Here’s a look at the top-four ranked players this week:
Lydia Ko – Still only 19, the World Number 1 has been a revelation in women’s golf over the last few years. The New Zealander has already won 14 LPGA Tour events including two Majors. Prior to a slightly disappointing tied 40th finish in this year’s British Open, her five previous Major results had been – T3, 1, 1, 2, T3.
Ariya Jutanugarn – The Thai golfer is just 20 but has made a name for herself on the 2016 LPGA Tour. Now ranked second in the world, she has won four times, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn.
Brooke Henderson – It’s a young woman’s game right now – the recent women’s PGA champion Henderson is only 18! The Canadian enjoyed a fine amateur career and has enjoyed success since turning professional in 2014. She’s currently ranked third in the world.
Lexi Thompson – Seven times a winner on the LPGA Tour, Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco in 2014. She first played a Major back in 2007 when she competed in the U.S. Women’s Open as a 12-year-old. Since her Major victory in 2014, the American has been a consistent performer in the big events with seven top-10 finishes to her name.
Golf Monthly Olympic preview podcast:
Brazil’s Miriam Nagl will hit the first shot tomorrow morning and she is excited at the prospect of competing in an Olympic Games in her home country.
“You know, standing on one of the tees, I saw Rickie Fowler teeing off and I saw the Olympic rings next to his foot and I thought, how incredible it is that we get to tee off in the Olympic Games,” she said. “It’s fantastic for the game of golf. I think they (the Brazilian public) are getting the point that it’s beautiful to be outside on a beautiful piece of land, with the sun shining and hopefully they will support the sport and just have a good day when they come out.”
After Nagl hits the first ball at 7.30am, groups to watch include:
9.03 Gerina Piller (USA), Azahara Munoz (Esp), Inbee Park (Kor)
9.14 Brooke Henderson (Can), Suzann Pettersen (Nor), Lexi Thompson (USA)
10.58 Stacy Lewis (USA), Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha), Seiyoung Kim (Kor)
11.09 Lydia Ko (NZ), Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Charley Hull (GB)
A Gil Hanse design, the course at Rio should present a different proposition to that the players face week in and week out on the main world Tours. Hanse says he used his creation at Castle Stuart on the Moray Firth as an inspiration as well as the Australian sandbelt courses.
This layout features no trees and no rough. Balls that fail to find the fairways will either end in sandy waste areas dotted with native long grasses or in one of the testing bunkers that Hanse has described as the “most dramatic feature on the course.” There are 79 bunkers for the players to avoid.
The course has been constructed on an old sand quarry and this is what has led to the comparisons between the Olympic course and links/sandbelt tracks. Expect to see some run on the fairways and around the greens.
Justin Rose described the course as having a rugged, Openish look to it and, like at The Open, the wind could play a decisive role. If the breeze gets up, the layout will prove testing. But, if it stays calm, expect to see plenty of birdies.
It looks like the wind might not be too much of a factor. It should be hot tomorrow, cooling towards the weekend but then hot and humid with a chance of rain on Saturday.