The women’s golf competition at the Tokyo Olympics will be held from August 4-7 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, the same venue as the men event the previous week. However, the ladies’ event has attracted a much stronger field than the male version.
Why? We may all ask. The answer may well be the balance of power in women’s golf.
All the top 10 in the world rankings are confirmed for the Olympics: two from the US, four from South Korea and one each from Canada, the Philippines, Japan and New Zealand.
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Of the top 36 players in the current rankings up to 2020 Olympian Melissa Reid of Team GB in 37th place, all but 13 players are from Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Four of the top five players in the rankings are from South Korea.
The talk in the locker rooms of the women’s game over the last few months was all about the Olympics in Japan. The Korean dominance of the game over the past decade and more is quite staggering. Take a look:
- 28 of the Top 100 players in the rankings are from South Korea.
- 33 of the next 100 are from South Korea.
- That is 61 out of 200 — well over a quarter.
- On the other side, there are three men from South Korea in the top 100. Hmmm.
The power in women’s golf these days is certainly in Asia and Australasia rather than the Americas and Europe.
All three of the 2016 podium finishers in the women’s competition are playing again in the Olympics next month: Inbee Park (South Korea), Lydia Ko (New Zealand) and Shanshan Feng (China), compared to zero in the men’s competition.
Hannah Green, representing Australia in Tokyo, said: “It’s interesting to see how the women, and some men, have changed their schedule for it.” Green, like Shanshan, missed the LPGA’s most recent major to gear up for Japan. “It’s a tournament that I am prioritising,’ Green added.
“I’ve achieved a lot in golf,” said Rio champ Inbee. “I have won a lot of majors, won a lot of tournaments, but winning the gold medal was something really different. I wish a lot of the players think the same and treat Olympics the same. I think it’s definitely something that you should experience.”
Shanshan, the 2016 bronze-medal winner in Rio, might even retire after the Games.
It seems obvious that players are always more comfortable on their home continent and in a country near their own. This has been the case, proven by statistics, for the women’s competition at the Olympics.
Good luck to all in both the men’s and women’s golf competitions, and the Ladies could and should serve up a more thrilling battle for the medals. We cannot wait.
One result of this research into the women’s game the sheer dominance of South Korea in golf. How one country can dominate a sport in such numbers? Is there any other sport in the world dominated so much by players from just one country? It is certainly worth a debate. But that in-depth plunge is for another day.
Enjoy the Games.