5 burning questions ahead of the Women’s Olympic Golf Competition
Week two of Tokyo 2020 is here, and with it comes the Women’s Olympic Golf Competition. This will be just the second time since 1900 that the women have competed on the links at the Olympics, and the competition is sure to be fierce.
Here are five questions we have ahead of play.
1. Will Nelly Korda remain dominant?
No player on the planet — male or female — has been as dominant in 2021 as Nelly Korda. She has three wins already this season, including a dominant run at the KPMG Women’s PGA, and has missed just one cut in 13 starts. Her scoring average sits at a healthy 68.89, easily tops on the LPGA Tour.
Now she heads to her first Olympic Games, where she’s joined by her sister Jessica, also competing in her first Games. Jessica hasn’t been quite as successful as her younger sister this season, but she does have a win to her credit.
“It’s honestly surreal,” Nelly Korda said. “It’s so much fun. I don’t know what I would do without Jess.”
The Korda duo is sure to be a focal point in the leadup to the competition, but world No. 1 Nelly Korda will have the higher expectations of the two. She’s currently the betting favorite to bring home a gold medal, and doing so would add another chapter to her storybook 2021.
She’ll be joined in competition by Americans Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson, each looking to become the first American woman to medal in golf since 1900. Will she be up to the task?
2. Is this it for Shanshan Feng?
Shanshan Feng has aided in a golf boom in her home country of China and won a bronze medal to her home country in 2016. However, if her comments from earlier this summer are any indication, the Tokyo Games may be her swan song.
According to Golf Channel’s Amy Rogers, Feng said after the KPMG Women’s PGA that she is considering hanging it up after Olympic competition.
“It’s enough of golf, right?” Feng told Golf Channel. “If you take last year out, this is already my 13th year. It’s a long time.”
Feng has always been one to do things her own way, so an early retirement would not be out of character.
“I am here for the Olympics,” she said. “My plan is up to the Olympics. I don’t know what I’m going to do after it. I might come back, I might not.”
If Feng does opt for retirement, she’ll go out with an impressive resume to her credit. She became the first Chinese woman to earn an LPGA Tour card in 2008 and has accumulated 10 wins — including a major — in the time since. In 2017, she became the No. 1 golfer in the world, a spot she remained for 23 weeks.
Enjoy watching Feng while it lasts, golf fans. It might soon be coming to an end.
3. How will the returning medal-winners fare?
Unlike in the men’s competition, all three medal-winners from 2016 are returning to compete in Tokyo. And their games are in fine form.
Gold-medal winner Inbee Park is ranked No. 3 in the world and won earlier this season at the Kia Classic. Silver medalist Lydia Ko seems to have broken her long slump in 2021 and heads to Kasumigaseki Country Club with seven top 10s and a win already this season, while Shanshan Feng has two top 5s in majors.
“I’m very excited to be here and obviously representing the country twice in a row is the biggest honor for me,” Park said. “Here in Tokyo in five years after Rio, it is truly a dream come true for me.”
A female golfer has never earned more than one Olympic medal; will history be made in Tokyo?
4. Can Gaby Lopez take the next step?
Gaby Lopez has enjoyed a successful start to her professional golf career, earning two wins in five seasons on the LPGA Tour. Now, she returns to the Olympic Games to represent Mexico for the second time. And in Tokyo, she got the special honor of serving as Mexico’s flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony.
“It’s the biggest honor every single time you get to represent your country, to play for the sport you love and play for the people, something way bigger than yourself,” Lopez said. “But being actually carrying the flag for the Olympics at the opening ceremony was just a dream come true.”
Lopez has been spotted hanging around Kasumigaseki Country Club all week in preparation for competition, and she’ll look to become Mexico’s first medal winner in golf. With wins on the LPGA Tour already, the next logical progression would be to win (or medal) in a major competition such as this.
Keep an eye on the 27-year-old from Mexico. It could be a special week in the making.
5. How will Kasumigaseki Country Club hold up?
Kasumigaseki Country Club received rave reviews for the men’s competition, and now it preps to host the women’s event. But while it is the same golf course, with different setups and pin positions, the course is sure to play different.
Jessica Korda shared her thoughts in her pre-tournament presser on what fans can expect to be different for the women.
“They obviously hit it a lot farther than we do and put more spin on the ball. So, I think coming out of the rough they might be able to stop some things faster than us. And they’re coming in with probably shorter clubs than we are. I think it will in that sense as of right now we have only played nine holes and seen that, but for me it was really fun to just see how aggressive of players they are. Drivers were hit where not necessarily we would be hitting drivers. But again, for them they were saying that it was just so soft that they could be super aggressive … They made it really exciting.”
The course might look similar to what fans saw on TV last week, but fear not, this week it should play entirely different.