Australia’s Hannah Green – currently tied for third ahead – photo Stan Badz PGA Tour / IGF
Australia’s Hannah Green and New Zealander, Lydia Ko, find themselves in at least bronze medal contention through 54 holes of the Olympic Women’s event in Saitama north of Tokyo but their fate in securing a medal of any colour may well be determined by the potentially stormy weather due on Saturday.
American Nelly Korda leads by three shots over India’s Aditi Ashok, the current world number one adding a third round of 69 to have her four shot overnight lead reduced by one.
Ko was round in 66 today while Green produced a 4 under round of 67, the pair tied in 3rd position alongside Japan’s Mone Inami and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen, that group five shots from Korda.
If weather does cause the final round to be abandoned then the four players tied for 3rd will receive bronze medals.
Green recovered from an early bogey at the 4th to record four birdies before the turn and added another at the 15th to reach 10 under par for the tournament.
It may yet be however that it will be the 12 foot par saving putt at the last after finding the rough and coming up short with her approach that will play a crucial role in whether or not she becomes Australia’s first Olympic Games medal winner.
“I’m very happy to have finished with a par after not hitting a good tee shot,” said Green. “From what I have heard we might be able to have a 72 hole tournament so it was a big moment.” she added referring to the par saving putt.
Lydia Ko – can she equal or better her Rio silver medal? photo Stan Badz PGA Tour/ IGF
Ko produced a mistake free 5 under 66, the second-best round of the day after Daniela Darquea’s 65, and is well placed to equal if not improve on her silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
“To me like where I am today,” said Ko, “I’m just more having fingers toes and everything crossed to say that the weather gods will allow to us play tomorrow.
“I feel like the Olympics itself has gone through so much and Tokyo’s gone through so much to host us and have the Olympics on and I think for it to be cut short I think it would just, I feel like it will sum up the whole situation, but I hope like we get to play another golf round and I think it will be so exciting.”
“I would love to have one more chance to be hopefully on the podium. Because I’m not just playing for myself but I’m playing for my country and even though I do that on a daily basis I think it’s a very different feel. So I would love to play. Sometimes there are going to be days I’m like, man, I don’t want to play in this heat, but in this situation I would love to play.
“Rory Sabbatini shot 10-under on the last day last week to become the silver medalist. Sometimes I just don’t think you can count yourself out of it and if you feel like you’re playing good golf, you’re going to have opportunities and at points when you’re playing from behind that you know that really it’s only gold, silver and bronze, maybe I end up attacking pins that I normally wouldn’t in any other situation. So I think it changes the tactics, but for me I’m just praying to the weather gods that we get to play.”
While Korda is the clear favourite to take out the gold medal, it should be remembered, and as Ko suggested, that Rory Sabbatini began last Sunday’s final round seven shots behind Xander Schauffele and failed to catch him by just one.
Minjee Lee is the other Australasian in the event but perhaps surprisingly struggled to a round of 73 to be in a share of 34th place.
If play is abandoned tomorrow then Korda wins the gold medal but she is planning on playing 72 holes.
“My mindset is 72 holes so I’m sticking to that. I’m trying to give myself opportunities and make them, that’s all. I’m trying to stay as present as possible and see how it goes.”