So the men's Olympic Golf Tournament is done for another 4 years, after a titanic battle between major champions Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, it was Rose who emerged victorious after a spectacular birdie at the 72nd hole to become the first golfer to win an Olympic Gold Medal in 112 years.
Marcus Fraser fought hard to hang in there for 5th place, while Scott Hend never recovered from a quintuple 10 in his opening round and ended up finishing in a tie for 39th place. There is no doubt that after much previous debate and discussion the event was a huge success.
Now it is the women's chance to take centre stage, 60 players from 34 different nations will tee it up on Wednesday at The Barra da Tijuca course in Rio, which was built and designed just for these Olympic Games by the golf course architect, Gil Hanse –in collaboration with LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott.
The course was designed to enhance the native environment and interestingly, Hanse used Scottish links design and Kingston Heath GC on Melbourne's sand-belt for inspiration. (Yes, they share flat terrain, sand, salt and water!)
The 6,745 yard layout should provide a tough test for the women, with many bunkers and greens designed for challenging and strategic approaches. The longer hitters may be rewarded on certain holes but this is a course that gives every player an opportunity.
For a hole-by-hole description, see http://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/olympic-venue/hole-by-hole-course-guide/explanations. Just click on a hole and read the short description and you will be well prepared for the challenging competition you will see.
Australia will be represented this week by our 20-year-old "dynamic duo" in Western Australian Minjee Lee and Victorian Su Oh. The talented youngsters cannot wait to get started this week and it would be no surprise to see either Minjee or Su on the podium collecting a medal on Saturday evening. ALPG and LPGA star Rachel Hetherington has flown into Rio to act as assistant captain to Team Leader Ian Baker-Finch. Rachel's vast experience on the LPGA Tour and also as a former Women's World Cup winner alongside Karrie Webb will no doubt be of great help to the 2 youngsters playing on the biggest stage of their lives.
The tournament favourite once again this week will be world number 1 Lydia Ko, who has hardly been able to contain her excitement at the opportunity of representing her country at the Olympics here in Rio. Ko already has 4 titles to her credit so far in 2016 including a major championship, she sent her caddy Jason Hamilton to Rio early to learn as much about the course as possible which shows how much Ko craves that Olympic gold medal.
While Ko will be a hot favourite, the player to beat this week may well be recently crowned Ricoh Women's British Open champion Ariya Jutanagarn. The 20-year-old from Bangkok had long been touted a future superstar, and in 2016 she has shown what that hype was about breaking through for her first LPGA victory in early May before winning again the next 2 weeks. Jutanaragn has now moved up into 2nd place behind Ko on the Rolex Rankings and it would be no surprise to see her challenge the Kiwi for that position in the near future.
Korea is sending the strongest and largest team to the Olympics. Inbee Park, InGee Chun, Sei Young Kim, and Amy Yang are all in the top 10 of the Rolex Women's world rankings and are all highly motivated to capture Olympic Gold. Inbee Park has been troubled with a thumb injury in 2016 and has not played since the KPMG Wome's PGA Championship in early June. The former world number one was desperate to play in Rio, as was Amy Yang who missed the recent Ricoh Women's British Open so she would be at her best this week. Chun and Kim are both superstars in the making and either could walk away with a medal this week. The Korean women also have an ace up their sleeve this week, Korean legend Seri Pak is their team leader and is worshipped by her younger compatriots. Having her around can only help them.
Of the other main chances this week, Brooke Henderson and Lexi Thompson should play well, while the British pair of Catriona Matthew and Charley Hull could also contend.
The British pair will be bringing very different games to Rio – Hull’s rip it and grip it style is in sharp contrast to Matthew’s solid, consistent, smooth as silk approach to the game – but both are very comfortable on traditional links courses. While Matthew doesn’t have Hull’s length or power she possesses fantastic course management skills and a consistency which may be required this week.
Two other players to watch this week are the Spanish duo of Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz. They have both been pumped up for this week all year, they both love team competitions and have fantastic records when playing for their country including a victory at the 2014 International Crown.
On Saturday afternoon in Rio there will be three women who will experience the thrill of a lifetime in collecting an Olympic medal, there is no doubt though the other 57 players will also consider themselves very fortunate to have been a part of the biggest sporting show on earth.
Teams and Representatives;
Korea - Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Amy Yang, In Gee Chun
USA - Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller
Canada - Brooke M. Henderson, Alena Sharp
China - Shanshan Feng, Xiyu Lin
Australia - Minjee Lee, Su-Hyun Oh
Sweden - Anna Nordqvist, Pernilla Lindberg
Norway - Suzann Pettersen, Marianne Skarpnord
Taipei - Teresa Lu, Candie Kung
Japan - Harukyo Nomura, Shiho Oyamo
Great Britain - Charley Hull, Catriona Matthew -- (Note: Great Britain includes Northern Ireland,Wales and Scotland)
Thailand - Arlya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum
Rep S.Africa - Paula Reto, Ashleigh Simon
Spain - Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz
France - Karine Icher, Gladys Nocera
Germany - Sandra Gal, Caroline Masson
Denmark - Nicole Broch Larsen, Nanna Koerstz Madsen
Finland - Ursula Wickstrom, Noora Tamminen
Italy - Guila Molinaro, Giulia Sergas
Ireland - Leona Maquire, Stephanie Meadow
Mexico - Gaby Lopez, Avejandra Llaneza
Switzerland - Albane Valenzuela, Fabrienne In-Albon
Malaysia - Kelly Tan, Michelle Koh
Brazil – Miriam Nagi, Victoria Lovelady (Brazil, the home country of the Olympics, was guaranteed at least one place)
New Zealand, - Lydia Ko (ranked #1 in Rolex Rankings)
Colombia - Mariajo Uribe
Paraguay - Julieta Granada
Israel - Laetitia Beck
Czechoslovakia - Klara Spilkova
Russia - Maria Verchenova
Belgium - Chloe Leurquin
Austria - Christine Wolf
India – Aditi Asshok
Hong Kong - Tiffany Chan
Morocco - Maha Haddioui
The Women's Golf Tournament will be shown live on Channel 7 this week and on the Channel 7 Olympic App.