Golf is being played at the 2016 Summer Olympics for the first time since the 1904 Olympics, ending a 112-year absence of the sport. Women's golf was left out for 116 years, though, as it was not included in the 1904 Olympic games in St. Louis, Missouri. The last female gold medalist in golf was American Margaret Abbott in the 1900 Paris Olympics.
The 2016 Summer Olympics, being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will house golf at the new Olympic Golf Course designed by Gil Hanse. Sixty women will be competing in a 72-hole individual stroke-play tournament. If a tie occurs for any of the top three positions, a three-hole playoff will decide the medal winners.
Qualification for the golf competition in Rio went as follows: no more than four players per country from the world's top-15 player rankings could qualify, and after the top 15, a maximum of two players per country can qualify. The host country, Brazil, is also guaranteed one player spot.
Traveling to Rio for the Olympics in the first place seemed a bit of a risk, given the threat of the Zika virus and scheduling conflicts it may inflict upon a busy LPGA season. Though this caused the top-four ranked males to withdraw from the Olympics, the women welcomed the new tournament with open arms. The top-ranked player to withdraw was South African Lee-Anne Pace, 39th in the world. So, the cream of the crop will be on display for the women's golf tournament in Rio, with the best players all competing for a medal.
Lydia Ko, the No. 1 ranked favorite playing for New Zealand, will headline the class of female golfers in the Olympics. The 19-year-old is her country's sole representative. Korea is the only country with four participants, having Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Hee Young Yang and In Gee Chun. All ranked inside the top 10, these four players make Korea an early favorite to medal.
The United States will be represented by Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, the only other country with more than two players. Ariya Jutanugarn, 20 years old and coming off four LPGA wins this year, will be playing for her homeland of Thailand alongside Pornanong Phatlum.
18-year-old Brooke Henderson of Canada is the second ranked player, having won twice on the LPGA Tour this year. Alena Sharp will serve as her Canadian compatriot.
Others playing include Anna Nordqvist (SWE), Shanshan Feng (CHN), Minjee Lee (AUS) Suzann Peterson (NOR) and Charley Hull (GBR). Miriam Nagl and Victoria Lovelady will be representing Brazil.