This week’s Tipsport Golf Masters at Golf Park Pilsen in the Czech Republic marks an important week in the Road to Rio for the 14 players in the field who currently feature in the top 60 of the Women’s Olympic Ranking.
This is the final tournament on the Ladies European Tour before the qualification deadline of July 11 and with 50 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, the players are fine tuning their games for this week’s three-round event.
Leading the way is Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark, who faces a close battle this week with Emily Kristine Pedersen for the second Danish spot. Madsen said: “Emily and I are playing for the Olympic Games this week and it would be the biggest experience to go there. I haven’t thought about the Olympic Games yet because I’m thinking about how to get there. This week is of course very important to me.”
Gwladys Nocera of France, Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord, Ursula Wikstrom of Finland and home hope Klára Spilkova from the Czech Republic are all aiming to keep their places, along with Finn Noora Tamminen, who commented: “This is the last tournament that counts so it’s really important for everyone that’s in contention to go. I really want to play and I’ve been dreaming about the Olympic Games since I was like five years old.”
Russian Maria Verchenova is another Olympic hopeful in action in Pilsen and she said: “Some of the girls here are fighting for their position because there are only a few weeks left. In Russia, the Olympics are very big and I’m the only one that’s going to be playing, so it’s massive and I’ve already been doing a lot of media work.”
Austrian Christine Wolf is the next best positioned Olympic prospect in the field, followed by Anne Van Dam from the Netherlands and Fabienne In-Albon of Switzerland.
Belgium’s Chloe Leurquin, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, is also in the race and she said: “I think there’s been pressure for everyone over the last few tournaments and I felt a lot of pressure in Morocco and China. I did pretty well in Morocco, so I feel less pressured now but it’s the last chance and a lot of other girls will play in America so we need to be good.”
For 18-year-old rookie professional Aditi Ashok from India, who will be playing for the first time in the Czech Republic, Pilsen represents a great opportunity and she said: “This is one of the four events that I get to play this year before qualifying so I’m really looking forward to it and I want to focus on playing consistently. I really like this golf course and I’m sure if I plan it out well and play with a good strategy, I’ll do well this week. It’s only 50 more days, so I hope I can stay in the qualifying positions and make it because I’m really looking forward to it.”
Brazilian pair Miriam Nagl and Victoria Lovelady are also both competing to secure their positions of 59th and 60th respectively and Nagl said: “This is the last chance for the Ladies European Tour players to qualify for Rio and make a difference and stay in the race so it’s very important to us. My game seems to have become better every week so I feel quite confident and hopefully I can get a good start.”