Lydia Ko's Rio Olympics Preview



Golf at the Olympics huh? All the build up to golf's debut at the Olympics in Rio has zoned in on the negative vibes, flowing through the men's event with the world's best male golfers blatantly not giving two-hoots about Olympic golf. And to be honest, why should they? They've got PGA tournaments to win and what not, plus it allows for the battlers of world golf to have their moment in the spotlight.

Personally, I don't care about men's golf though. Following professional golf for me is all about Lydia Ko and that leads me to take a greater general interest in how the rest of the LPGA is performing. Whatever Rory McIllroy, Adam Scott or Jordan Spieth want to do and how they are playing, does absolutely nothing for me because I'm concerned with how a 19-year-old phenom from my country is going.

Hence, the excitement is brewing within my loins about golf's debut at the Olympics because it's coincided with Ko establishing herself as the best female golfer on the planet and the most dominant golfer on the planet. Maybe the sporting gods were smiling down on us by gifting us Ko and Olympic golf at the same time? This isn't just about Ko's ability with the clubs and that she's a fair chance to earn Aotearoa an Olympic medal, those who follow Ko will know what a lovely young lady she is and she's the perfect headline act for golf at the Olympics which obviously makes her one great advertisement for Aotearoa.

Ko is already widely loved on the LPGA Tour by fans, officials and her peers. Following the LPGA Tour though is an activity reserved for hardened golf fans and not the casual sports fan which, so for Ko to be stepping into the Olympic realm where she'll do her thing as an athlete and all round lovely human being, puts her in front of so many more sports-loving public. 

There's a reason why Ko doesn't win every tournament on Tour as there are so many variables at play and while Ko is the No.1 in the world, there's no certainties that she'll win a gold or even a medal. Ko is joined by a field of the best female golfers on the planet, ladies who have battled with Ko on Tour, who will make life extremely difficult for Ko her competitors are led by fellow teenager Brooke Henderson from Canada. Throw in a strong Korean contingent including Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim, Amy Yang and In Gee Chun, Amerca's Lexi Thompson, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn and the veteran Anna Nordqvist from Sweeden ... I can't stress how strong this field is and we need to rid ourselves of our expectations that Ko will definitely win a medal.

Hopefully Ko dominates and wins gold, sure but it's highly likely that anyone of that Olympic Top-10 catches fire, leaving Ko without a medal or a bronze for example. This is why you need to mark down August 17 in your calendar because that's when the women's golf event gets underway and for four days, I will be tied to my screen watching Ko compete against a group of golfers hunting Olympic glory. 

First and foremost, I'll be watching Ko. She's a kiwi athlete, or should I say that she's a kiwi athlete of the highest calibre and there's nothing better than watching a kiwi athlete compete on such a stage, at such a level. As the No.1 women's player in the world, who holds the lowest scoring average (69.102) and averages the lowest number of putts on Tour (28.49), Ko enters the Olympics as a firm favourite.

But then I'm also intrigued by the bigger picture as women's golf is currently the strongest it's ever been, led by Ko and a gang of women's golfers who take turns at knocking each other of their perch. If you've been sleeping on women's golf, now is the time to wake up as we will probably be treated to a highly competitive tournament in which golf nerds will be able to enjoy an excessively high level of golf and casual sports fans will have women's golf put front and centre in their lounge.

Maybe you care about men's golf, I don't (I still love you Danny Lee). I'm riding the Lydia Ko wave and that wave involves the rise of the LPGA Tour, as well as golf's debut at the Olympics. As kiwis we have a unique perspective here as the leader of the rise of women's golf is one of us, she's a humble, down to Earth kiwi girl who represents me - as a young kiwi - exactly how I want to be represented on the world stage. Shout out to the sporting gods crossing the paths of Lydia Ko and Olympic golf as well as they have done.