Women's Golf at The Olympics Preview
SOUTH KOREA’S Inbee Park claimed the first gold medal in women's golf since 1900 when she won the Olympic Games title in Rio five years ago, and she will be back in Tokyo as defending champion this week.
Park carded a closing 66 at Reserva de Marapendi to finish 16 under par, five shots clear of world No 1 Lydia Ko, who birdied the last to claim silver ahead of China's Shanshan Feng. Great Britain's Charley Hull came up short in her bid for a medal.
"This is definitely one of the special moments in my golfing career and in my whole life," Park said. "It feels great. Obviously representing your country, winning the gold, it's so special. It's just really all I've wanted. I'm just happy.”
Japan's Harukyo Nomura, American Stacy Lewis and South Korea's Hee Young Yang shared fourth place on nine under, with Hull tied for seventh another shot back alongside Canada's Brooke Henderson and Australia's Minjee Lee.
Park took a two-shot lead into the final round and was six clear after a hat-trick of birdies from the third and another on the eighth, before Feng closed the gap with a birdie on the 10th.
When Park bogeyed the 10th after pulling her tee shot into the water as Feng birdied the 11th in the group ahead, the gap was down to just three shots heading into the toughest part of the course.
However, Park quickly regained her composure and birdies on the 13th, 15th and 17th sealed victory and saw the focus switch to the tense battle for silver and bronze.
Feng set the target on 10 under after a closing 69, but was left to regret three-putting the 18th for par from just short of the green, leaving the door open for Ko in the group behind.
After driving the green on the short 16th to set up a two-putt birdie, the then 19-year-old New Zealander pitched to seven feet on the 18th and saw her birdie putt catch the left edge of the hole and drop into the cup.
Hull was within a shot of the bronze medal position after a birdie on the 11th, but three-putted the 13th and was unable to pick up any shots until a two-putt birdie on the 18th. "I was quite happy with the way I finished," Hull said after a final-round of 68. "I hit a great shot into the last and could have raced that [eagle] putt a little bit more, but I left it a little bit short.
"But I'm happy. Especially on the back nine I gave myself plenty of opportunities, I just didn't hole them. I missed one short putt which is a bit silly but apart from that I feel like my game is in good shape. My first Olympics was a fantastic experience and I got a good buzz off it."
Hull's team-mate Catriona Matthew carded a closing 70 to finish 29th, with Ireland's Leona Maguire tied for 21st after a 69 and team-mate Stephanie Meadow 31st following a 72.
Tokyo Olympics Preview
Hull had the opportunity to represent Britain again in Tokyo but she and Georgia Hall opted to give it a miss, meaning Team GB will be represented by Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
South Koreans Park, Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim and Hyo-Joo Kim are most likely to be fighting it out for the medals with Americans Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda, who will be hoping to emulate men's gold medalist Xander Schauffele. Home hopes lie in the hands of Nasa Hataoka and Mone Inami.
Women’s Olympic Games Golf Field:
Argentina: Magdalena Simmermacher
Austria: Christine Wolf
Australia: Minjee Lee, Hannah Green
Belgium: Manon De Roey
Canada: Brooke Henderson, Alena Sharp
China: Shanshan Feng, Xiyu Lin
Chinese Taipei: Wei-Ling Hsu, Min Lee
Colombia: Mariajo Uribe
Czech Republic: Klara Spilkova
Denmark: Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Emily Kristine Pedersen
Ecuador: Daniela Darquea
Finland: Matilda Castren, Sanna Nuutinen
France: Celine Boutier, Perrine Delacour
Germany: Sophia Popov, Caroline Masson
Great Britain: Melissa Reid, Jodi Ewart Shadoff
Hong Kong: Tiffany Chan
India: Aditi Ashok
Ireland: Leona Maguire, Stephanie Meadow
Italy: Giulia Molinaro, Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso
Japan: Nasa Hataoka, Mone Inami
Malaysia: Kelly Tan
Mexico: Gaby Lopez, Maria Fassi
Morocco: Maha Haddioui
Netherlands: Anne van Dam
New Zealand: Lydia Ko
Norway: Marianne Skarpnord, Tonje Daffinrud
Philippines: Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan
Puerto Rico: Maria Fernanda Torres
Slovenia: Pia Babnik
South Africa: Ashleigh Buhai
South Korea: Jin Young Ko, Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Hyo-Joo Kim
Spain: Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz
Sweden: Anna Nordqvist, Madelene Sagstrom
Switzerland: Albane Valenzuela, Morgane Metraux
Thailand: Patty Tavatanakit, Ariya Jutanugarn
United States: Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda
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