Rio 2016: Women's golf prepares for a return to the Olympics

60 medal hopefuls will be preparing for the start of the first women's Olympic golf competition since 1900 on Wednesday.

Rio 2016: Women's golf prepares for a return to the Olympics
Some of the hopefuls for an historic medal in Rio (photo : LPGA)

After a successful return for the men's event in Rio, the top women golfers in the world are preparing to grace the par 71 course after an even longer absence of 116 years.

History in the making whilst all the big names are present

The competition will create even further history when the victor will be awarded the first Olympic gold medal as they did not exist when American Margaret Abbott won the sole tournament. 

Questions had been raised over how seriously the men's side of the game were taking the return of the sport to the Games, but there have been no such issues on the women's side. Whilst the men lost six, only one of the female top ten will not be present in Rio and that is because world number ten Ha Na Jang is only ranked fifth out of the South Korean women. The medal winners will also earn more ranking points than the men did for their competition.

Ko leads the excitement for the women's game (photo : Getty Images)
Lydia Ko leads the excitement for the women's game (photo : Getty Images)

Kiwi Ko begins as favourite for gold

Despite South Korea sending such a strong contingent, the quartet are expected to be outsiders for medals, particularly as their top player Inbee Park is nursing a sore thumb. The favourite was actually born in South Korea, though Lydia Ko moved to New Zealand when she was young and gained citizenship when she was 12. Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn is expected to challenge as second favourite after her first major Championship success a fortnight ago, whilst the trio of Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson and Stacey Lewis should all feature around the medal positions.

Team GB's interest will be invested in young Charley Hull who will tee off in a mouth watering group including Ko and Anna Nordqvist at 11:09. Just before them another exciting trio involves both Jutanugarn and Lewis, whilst Brazilian Miriam Nagl will begin proceedings at 7:30 local time.