GOLF: Minjee Lee and Su Oh have narrowly missed out on Australia’s first Olympic medal in golf with Korea’s Inbee Park deservedly claiming the gold.
Lee fired a 67 that included six birdies in the final 14 holes, however the 20-year-old will rue two missed birdie putts on 16 and 17 that effectively ruled her out of medal contention. A tough 30 foot eagle putt on the par five 18th was missed which made it mathematically impossible to catch the golfers in third spot, though Lee did make the birdie to finish a highly creditable eight under par overall.
Lee was proud of her efforts over the four days but was left to reflect on missed opportunities late on in the fourth and final round.
“I think I could have made the putts on 16 and 17 – but you know that’s golf and you can’t win them all. But I do feel I have made Australia proud and I feel pretty good. I hit the ball good, I putted well. So I’m pretty confident going into the next couple of weeks.”
Lee added: “On the back nine I just told myself I had to play well and give myself a lot of chances. I probably couldn’t have done much better than what I did today.
“I’m better when I’m under the pump but I gave it my all. And even though I came up a little short, I’m happy.”
Lee’s compatriot Oh started her final round strongly, moving to within two shots of the bronze medal position following back-to-back birdies on the tricky 10th and 11th holes but a double bogey on 13 which saw her twice in the bunker at different ends of the green saw any momentum accrued evaporate. Oh eventually carded a one under par 70, leaving her five under overall and tied in 13th position.
“I only really hit that one bad shot today which was really difficult to recover from,” Oh said. “It could have happened at any time but it probably hurt a lot more because of when it did happen. It was quite emotional as I knew it was going to be too tough to get that medal spots but I just kept working and giving it my all.
“The experience was really special. We have something like 36 events on the LPGA so if you have one bad week you pick yourself up and move onto the next one but this one only comes around every four years.”
And what would Oh do differently if selected on the team for Tokyo in 2020?
“I’d definitely like to do the Opening Ceremony. I was kind of bummed I missed it!
“I can’t believe I get to call myself an Olympian now. I’m already looking forward to the next one so hopefully I can keep playing well in the lead up to selection.”
While Inbee Park ran away with the tournament five shots clear of her nearest challenger, the fight for silver and bronze was far more compelling. With a play-off looking likely, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko birdied the 18th to take silver with Shanshan Feng of China only managing a par leaving her with bronze.
Lee was thankful for the support from the locals for the event and believes the tournament will be even bigger at the next Olympic Games.
“Brazil isn’t a huge golfing nation but it was pleasing to see a lot more people come out for the last two days. In four years’ time it will be played in Japan which is a good golfing nation so we’ll look forward to playing there in front of some really strong crowds.”
GOLF FINAL SCOREBOARD: 1 I Park (KOR) -16 2 L Ko (NZL) -11 3 S Feng (CHN) -10 3 players T4 on -9 T8 M Lee (AUS) -8 T13 S Oh (AUS) -5