Olympic Women’s Golf: 5 Things We Learned in Round 1

August 17, 2016

Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand set the pace with a six-under-par 65, and Hall of Famer Inbee Park and Sei Young Kim, both of South Korea, were just one back after the first day of the Women’s Golf in Rio on Wednesday.

Here are Five Things We Learned from Day 1:

1. It didn’t take long to see the difference between the women and the men golfers, and their regard for the Olympics. “Olympics is higher than any major,” American Lexi Thompson said after signing for a 68. “We have five majors a year, and we only have one Olympics every four years.” (Pretty sure none of the top men said that last week.) Fellow Americans Gerina Piller (69) and Stacy Lewis (70) were also under par.

2. Park’s great round came amid further speculation that she will soon retire. The Korean sensation is just 28, but like top players before her—most notably Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam, who was one of the TV commentators Wednesday—Park sounds like she’s ready to retire in her prime, perhaps to start a family.

3. Brazilian golfers keep distinguishing themselves as hosts. Last week we got to know Adilson da Silva, who struck the opening shot of the men’s tournament. Now we get the graciousness of Victoria Lovelady and Miriam Nagl, who shot matching 79s in the first round. Lovelady answered reporters’ questions, even about the top men who no-showed, before the tournament. Nagl, who hit Wednesday’s opening tee shot, spoke eloquently after her round.

4. The best story on the leaderboard is Aditi Ashok, the 18-year-old Indian whose father is caddying for her in Rio. She is 462nd in the latest Rolex Rankings, and India has yet to win a medal at the Rio Games, and yet there she is with a 68 in the first round.

5. There’s less accessorizing—hair ties, face paint—in the Rio Games than at the Solheim Cup. That said, Russia’s Maria Verchenova, the 348th ranked player in the world, who shot an opening-round 75, won “Best Hat” Wednesday. It wasn’t even close.