The First Look: Olympic Games women's golf competition
July 31, 2021
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Kasumigaseki Country Club (East Course)
The top female golfers on the planet take over at Kasumigaseki Country Club this week to compete for Olympic medals.
There was both a men’s and women’s golf competition in the 1900 and 1904 Olympic games, and it made its return for 2016. After being postponed due the COVID-19 pandemic, the women’s golf competition returns this week after the men’s event wraps up.
FIELD NOTES: Both the United States and South Korea are sending four golfers to compete in the 60-woman Olympic field… The South Korean contingent includes Jin Young Ko, Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, and Hyo-Joo Kim while the American squad is made up of sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda (Nelly Korda is the No.1-ranked golfer in the world), Danielle Kang, and two-time Olympian Lexi Thompson… Recent Amundi Evian Championship winner Minjee Lee is competing for the first time since her maiden major triumph, representing Australia alongside fellow major winner Hannah Green… The three medalists from 2016 are all returning for 2021. Inbee Park (South Korea) won gold, while Lydia Ko (New Zealand) won silver, and Shanshan Feng (China) won bronze… Mexico’s Gaby Lopez has already spent a long time in the Olympic Village – she skipped The Evian Championship so she could be her country’s flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremonies… Like Hideki Matsuyama on the men’s side, multi-time LPGA Tour winner Nasa Hatakoa will have lots of home-country pressure. She and Mone Inami will represent Japan.
RACE TO CME GLOBE: N/A
COURSE: Kasumigaseki Country Club (East Course), par 71, 6,648 yards. The same course used in the men’s Olympic golf competition, Kasumigaseki will play about 800 yards shorter for the women but given its length it’ll be a stern test. Founded in the 1920s, this private golf course about an hour from Tokyo’s downtown area first hosted the Canada Cup (now the World Cup of Golf) in 1957. Most recently it hosted the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2010, and the East Course was re-designed by Tom and Logan Fazio in 2016 to ready itself for the Olympics.
STORYLINES: While the American squad was kept off the podium in 2016, this time around Team USA boasts the No. 1 golfer in the world in Nelly Korda… Nearly all of the top female golfers decided to participate in the Olympics, including all four of the major winners so far in 2021 (the LPGA has five majors on its schedule): Patty Tavatanakit (Thailand, ANA Inspiration), Yuka Saso (Philippines, U.S. Women’s Open), Nelly Korda (U.S.A., KPMG Women’s PGA Championship), and Minjee Lee (Australia, Evian Championship)… Watch out for Matilda Castren. An LPGA Tour rookie from last season, she won her first LPGA title at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship (she’s from Finland and is the only European to win on the LPGA Tour this season) and then won on the Ladies European Tour in mid-July… Both the female winner (Inbee Park) and the male winner (Justin Rose) shot matching 16-under 268 scores in 2016 to win gold… The women’s competition begins at 6:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday August 3 and runs for the next four days, concluding on Saturday August 7 at 3:30 a.m. EST. It is a 72-hole stroke play event with no cut, and the top-three finishers on the leaderboard will win medals. If golfers end up tied for any medal, there will be a playoff to determine a winner.
72-HOLE RECORD: 268, Inbee Park (South Korea, 2016)
18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Maria Verchenova (Russia, Fourth Round, 2016)
LAST TIME: Inbee Park shot 16-under (which included three rounds of 66) to dominate the women’s Olympic golf competition, winning gold by five shots over Lydia Ko. Ko won silver after finishing at 11-under for the week. Park was one shot back of Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn after an opening-round 65 but Jutanugarn was forced to withdraw in the third round with a knee injury. Park led by one through 36 holes and two shots through 54 holes, but she the chasers applied no pressure to her in the final round and she cruised to victory. There was a close race for the bronze medal, which was eventually won by Shanshan Feng at 10-under. Stacy Lewis (U.S.A.), Haru Nomura (Japan), and Amy Yang (South Korea) shot rounds of 66, 65, and 67, respectively, in the final round but ended up one-shot short of Feng’s medal-winning total.
HOW TO FOLLOW (All times ET)
Television: Tuesday-Friday, 6:30 p.m.-3 a.m. ET (Golf Channel). There is an extra 30 minutes of broadcast time in the final round for the medal ceremony.