After more than a century of absence women’s golf is ready to make it’s return to the Olympics Games. The 31st edition of the Summer Olympics will mark golf’s reappearance to the Games and will have Rio de Janeiro as its picturesque host. The competition will tee off August 11th for the men and August 17th for the women.
The women’s last appearance at an Olympic stage goes back to 1900 at the Paris Games. This was the only time ladies golf was ever featured at the Olympics. The women’s field was composed of ten competitors, five American players and five French players. The competition was played over the course of nine holes, where the American Margaret Abbott won the gold medal with a score of 47. Her countrywomen Pauline Whittier and Daria Pratt took the silver and bronze.
It was during the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri, where golf had its last Olympic appearance, having the men’s team from the United States and Canada as the only competitors. George Lyon of Canada took the gold medal in the individual competition, while Chandler Egan and Burt McKinnie from the United States took silver and bronze.
Golf is back for the 2016 Games and the 2020 Olympics but it continuance after the Tokyo edition will be revise by Olympic Committee in 2017.
The competition format for the event will be a 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women, having as a winner the player with the lowest aggregated score. In case of a tie for either first, second or third place a play-off or multiple play-offs would take place to the medal winners. Both fields are made up of 60 players.
Women are all in for the challenge
Despite the social problems, as well as health and economic concerns that Brazil is going through, the women’s field is committed for the Olympic competition. The fear of getting infected with the Zika virus has been the main reason cited by the golfers when withdrawing from the Games, especially on the men’s side. Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are just some of the players that withdrew from Rio 2016. The South African player, Lee-Anne Pace, was the first female golfer to make herself unavailable due to this same reason.
The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito genus, the same that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. The outbreak began in early 2015 in Brazil and then spread to other parts of South and North America. This virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and has been found in the blood, urine, amniotic fluid, saliva and semen. Those could be further affected are men, as experts admitted they did not know how long the virus can remain in the semen, while pregnant women can transmit the virus to her fetus Zika. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as microcephaly.
Other than the uncertainties regarding the virus some female players have expressed their worries about the city’s safety but trust that Olympic Committee will work to the best of their abilities to guarantee the athletes safety. Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson from United States have been some of the players who have expressed their desire to travel and compete in Rio regardless of crisis that the Brazilian government is going through. These players have even mentioned that winning an Olympic medal could have a bigger weight in their careers than a major championship.
The players across the two largest ladies professional tours (LPGA and LET) know that the impact and exposure that women’s golf is going to have during the Olympics will be unique. The biggest names in ladies golf will be in Rio and they will be seeking to bring new fans to the game. The Olympics is the biggest sporting stage and the players are conscious that this will be a extraordinary opportunity to show the world what women’s golf has to offer. More coverage means having a better chance with future fans prospects. Women’s golf will take advantage of more than 40,000 hours of television footage and 60,000 hours of digital content that will be produced and distribute by the Olympic Broadcasting Services.