Women’s golf at the Tokyo Olympics faces two big questions: Who will win a medal? And will the tournament last four rounds?
Perhaps more than any other sport, the men’s and women’s golf tournaments at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have struggled through unpredictable — and extreme — weather. The men’s second round was split in two due to rain delays; the women’s third round implemented split tees to avoid blistering conditions. What’s more, organizers face a tough decision regarding the fourth and final round as forecasts predict heavy storms this weekend.
Fortunately, it looks like the rain won’t hit the Kasumigaseki Country Club too hard until Sunday. On Friday, competition continued (mostly) as normal. World No. 1 Nelly Korda of Bradenton, Florida kicked off the third round with a four-shot lead over the rest of the field, having scored a nine-under-par 62 in round two. That 62 tied the Olympic golf record for lowest round, which Russia’s Maria Verchenova set in the final round at the 2016 Rio Games. (On the men’s side, Rory Sabbatini scored a jaw-dropping 61 in the Tokyo men’s tournament.)
Korda, 23, is a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour and won her first major at the Women’s PGA Championship in June. She maintained her lead in the Olympic third round by scoring two-under par, with a 15-under total for 194 strokes — still on top, but her first-place position more vulnerable.
“It’s still a good day,” Korda said in a post-match interview. “I’m gonna give it my all, and see where it goes … I’m still really far away, 18 holes. I’m trying to be as present as possible.”
There were some change-ups behind the leader. India’s Aditi Ashok scored an under-3 par for second place, with an under-12 total of 201 strokes. There’s a four-way tie for bronze: Though she spent the majority of the round in second, Japan’s Mone Inami fell to third in the last hole, with a -10 total of 203 strokes. Her score is matched by New Zealand’s Lydia Ko — who won silver in Rio — as well as Australia’s Hannah Green and Denmark’s Emily Pedersen.
If Korda were to win, the United States would claim gold in both the men’s and women’s tournaments at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The fourth round is set to continue Saturday at 7:30 AM (Friday at 6:30 ET) in an attempt to dodge the predicted downpour. However, organizers released a statement to the players should weather conditions worsen: “If we do not complete 72 holes on Saturday, we do have the option to finish 72 holes if weather permits on Sunday. If we are unable to start or complete 72 holes, the Women’s Olympic Golf Competition will revert to a 54-hole event.”