Olympic Women's Golf 2016: Wednesday Leaderboard Score, Highlights and Reaction

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17:  Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand plays her shot from the third tee during the First Round of Women's Golf on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Olympic Golf Course on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand leads the first women's golf tournament at the Olympics since 1900 after posting a six-under 65 in the first round.  

The South Korean tandem of Inbee Park and Seiyoung Kim are tied for second place, just one stroke off the pace. They are followed by a large contingent of players at either four-under or three-under with 54 holes to play in the stroke-play event.

Let's check out the top 10 after Round 1 at the Olympic Golf Course in Rio. To view a complete list of scores from all 60 competitors, visit the Olympics' official site.

2016 Summer Olympics: Women's Golf Leaders After Round 1
1Ariya JutanugarnTHA-6
T-2Inbee ParkKOR-5
T-2Seiyoung KimKOR-5
T-4Nicole Broch LarsenDEN-4
T-4Candie KungTPE-4
T-4Carlota CigandaESP-4
T-7Azahara MunozESP-3
T-7Lexi ThompsonUSA-3
T-7Aditi AshokIND-3
T-7Charley HullGBR-3

While the buzz around the men's tournament was negatively impacted by the number of high-profile golfers who pulled out, there's no such issue on the women's side. All of the top-ranked players are in Rio attempting to chase down the unique title.

New Zealand's Lydia Ko, the No. 1 player in world, sits in 11th place after an up-and-down first day. She stated coming into the event that it's the one she proverbially circled on her calendar when the 2016 season got underway, per Bob Harig of ESPN:

I think every tournament is very special. But the Olympics was probably the biggest goal of mine this year.

Firstly, to represent New Zealand and obviously to compete in it. If I end up holding a gold medal at the end of Saturday, and standing on the podium, I think it will be extra special. I don't know if I would ever take that medal off.

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Park is another example of the Olympics' importance. She missed several tournaments, including a pair of majors, in order to make sure a thumb injury was fully healed. The initial returns are promising as she came out firing on all cylinders and set the early pace with a bogey-free round.

Randall Mell of Golf Channel passed along comments from the 28-year-old South Korean after putting herself firmly in the mix right away:

Randall Mell @RandallMellGC

More @InbeePark (66): "I knew I could compete out here, but a lot of people were doubting." https://t.co/Cj6ddUsOx5

Jutanugarn came into the tournament riding a wave of momentum after winning the British Open and finishing second in the Marathon Classic. She kept those positive vibes rolling by immediately pushing to the top of the leaderboard.

She also has an opportunity to make history thing week, as Golf Channel's Justin Ray noted:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

With a win this week, 20-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn would become the youngest Olympic gold medalist ever from Thailand #THA #Rio2016

Meanwhile, Lexi Thompson is the top American after the first round at three-under par. While it's a rock-solid start, it could have been even better before a couple mistakes on the par-five 18th caused her to drop a shot to finish the day.

The 21-year-old Florida native still received some praise from an unlikely source afterward, though:

Niall Horan @NiallOfficial

Young ladies taking up golf should be following the likes of Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko , incredible role models .

All told, Jutanugarn should be viewed as the favorite after the first day of action based on her recent play, but the tournament is still wide open. There are 36 players within six shots of the lead, including many of the most notable names on the LPGA Tour.

One storyline to watch moving forward is how the course holds up. Since the women are using the same course as the men, it will be interesting to see how it looks heading into Saturday's final round after hosting seven rounds of competitive golf over the previous nine days.



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