• Shoots six-under 65 to claim one-shot lead after round one
• Korean duo Park and Kim currently share second place
OLYMPIC GOLF | ARIYA JUNTANUGARN
Olympic Women's Golf: Rnd 1
-6 Ariya Jutanugarn; -5 Inbee Park, Seiyoung Kim; -4 Nicole Broch Larsen, Candie Kung, Carlota Ciganda; -3 Azahara Munoz, Lexi Thompson, Aditi Ashok, Charley Hull Selected others: -2 Lydia Ko; -1 Stacy Lewis; Level Catriona Matthew, Suzann Pettersen
Just over a fortnight on from her maiden major victory at the RICOH Women’s British Open, Ariya Jutanugarn holds a one-shot lead after the opening round of the women’s Olympic golf tournament.
The Thai 20-year-old carded a superb six-under 65 in Rio de Janeiro for a slender advantage over South Korean duo Inbee Park and Seiyoung Kim.
Read more -> Rose claims gold medal for Team GB
Dane Nicole Broch Larsen, the 2015 Ladies European Tour Player of the Year, is a further shot adrift on four-under alongside Candie Kung of Taiwan and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda.
Team GB’s Charley Hull is three-under with compatriot Catriona Matthew, the 2009 RICOH Women’s British Open champion, on level-par. World No.1 Lydia Ko is two-under.
Read more -> Ariya Jutanugarn makes major history
Jutanugarn had an eventful front nine, carding birdies at the second and third holes to reach two-under. However, a double-bogey at four dropped her back to level-par before she claimed both shots back courtesy of an eagle at the par-5 fifth. She picked up further shots at the seventh and eighth to reach the turn in four-under.
A birdie at the tenth was coughed back up at 11 before further birdies at the par-3 14th and par-4 16th saw take the clubhouse lead.
"I feel pretty good with my game today," she said afterwards. "The only thing I want to do is make Thai people proud and be happy with me.
"Of course I want to go medal but, on top of it, I want to have fun. I really want to enjoy every round of golf, that's all I want this week."
Meanwhile, South Korean Park, above, was thrilled with her round of 66 – her first competitive round of golf in two months, following a spell on the sidelines with a thumb injury. Afterwards, she admitted she ‘wasn’t expecting much’ from herself coming into the event, so was pleasantly surprised to be amongst the early leaders.
“I’m very happy to see results like today,” she said. “It’s a good confidence boost.”
In a move that mirrored Adilson da Silva getting the men’s event underway last Thursday, Brazil’s Miriam Nagl, above, hit the first shot as women's golf returned to the Olympic fold for the first time since the 1900 Games in Paris. Unlike the men’s event, women’s golf didn’t feature in the 1904 Games in St Louis.
"It was very similar to a play-off situation where you just want to not hit an awful shot" - Miriam Nagl
The 35-year-old Nagl later described being given the opportunity to hit the opening tee shot as ‘nerve-wracking’.
“I was very nervous,” she said, “but what an honour that I could be hitting this shot. It means so much to me. It was very similar to a play-off situation where you just want to not hit an awful shot.”
Read more -> Top coach roasts Rio no-shows
Despite a good first drive, Nagl shot an eight-under 78, the same mark score carded by her compatriot Victoria Lovely.
Ariya Jutanugarn: Did you know...
First round leader Ariya Jutanugarn has has an older sister, Moriya, who is also a professional golfer, whilst her parents own a pro golf shop at the Rose Garden Golf Course near Bangkok.