Maria Verchenova made her mark on the women’s Olympic golf competition in more ways than one with an ace and a course record in the final round on Saturday.
Russia’s sole representative made a fast start with birdies on the first and third holes, followed by a hole-in-one at the fourth using a 6-iron. She also birdied the sixth, but bogeyed the seventh, before picking up another shot on the ninth for an outward nine of 30 strokes. Her back nine was almost as spectacular with five birdies on the 10th, 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th against a bogey on the 11th for an inward nine of 32 (-4) and a total of 62 (-9).
Verchenova felt good all week and while many of the players took time out to enjoy other sports, she focused purely on the task in hand and said: “It was just one of those days when everything came together.”
She hopes that her performance will help to raise the profile of golf as a high performance sport in Russia. “I think the whole thing is just me being here and playing here, it means a lot, because that’s going to push Russian golf forward, and that’s what we need, because Russian golf is kind of steady now it needs to be pushed forward. Maybe the kids see me on TV, and maybe they say, ‘oh, I want to play golf, as well.’”
Although her coach, Kevin Kirk, encourages her to ‘stay present’ on the golf course, which she reminds herself of by inking the words her yardage book, away from the course, she is already aiming for the next Olympic golf competition at Tokyo 2020.