South Africa’s Ashleigh Simon and Paula Reto are among the world’s top women golfers set to take the Olympic stage on Wednesday.
A field of 60 competitors in the women’s golf competition awill be seeking to follow in the footsteps of American Margaret Abbott, who won the gold medal in Paris in 1900.
Like Adilson da Silva in the men’s competition, the host nation’s Miriam Nagl will hit the opening tee shot at 7.30am in the company of Irish amateur Leona Maguire and Kelly Tan of Malaysia. Nagl’s drive will mark the return of women’s golf as an Olympic sport after an absence of 116 years.
South Africa’s Paula Reto will hit South Africa’s first shot at 7.52am.
Reto is teeing off with Nicole Broch Larsen from Denmark – the Ladies European Tour Player of the Year in 2015 – and last year’s US Women’s Open Championship winner Chun In Gee from South Korea.
South Africa’s Simon goes off nearly two hours later at 9.47am.
Her company for the first two rounds include two-time LPGA Tour winner Haru Nomura from Japan and Pernille Lindberg from Sweden, who like Simon, also celebrated Espirito Santo Trophy victory in the World Amateur Team Championships before she turned pro in 2009.
World No1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand will start her campaign alongside Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Great Britain’s Charley Hull in the final group at 11:09am.
Ko comes into the event as the top ranked golfer in the current world rankings and the number one qualifier for the Olympics, however, number two Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand is very much the in-form golfer at the moment.
Fresh from her first Major championship victory at the RICOH Women’s British Open a fortnight ago, Jutanugarn will represent Thailand playing alongside American Stacy Lewis and Sei Young Kim from the Republic of Korea.
Canadian Brooke Henderson, the current world No3, has been paired with two-time Major champion Suzann Pettersen from Norway and fourth ranked Lexi Thompson of the United States.
Former world No1 Inbee Park from Korea has been side-lined since the beginning of June with a thumb injury, but she has worked hard toward the opportunity to represent her country in Rio and will tee it up with American Gerina Piller and Spain’s Azahara Munoz.