Inbee Park leads Stacy Lewis by a stroke at 10-under-par midway through the women’s Olympic Golf competition at Rio 2016.

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The South Korean continued her impressive recovery from a thumb injury by matching her opening 66 for a 36-hole total of 132. The seven-time major winner admitted that she arrived in Rio more in hope than expectation after a lengthy lay-off, however, the world number five has plotted a steady course for two days and said: “I was able to convert the birdies today. I missed a couple of tee shots, so I was in the sand area, but I was able to convert them into birdies. That’s really the key for today’s round.”

The leaderboard reflects the global nature of the competition, with a league of nations contending inside the top ten. Hard on the heels of Park and Lewis are Canadian Brooke Henderson and Charley Hull (below), bidding to follow the gold medal performance of her fellow Briton, Justin Rose, last Sunday. Henderson also went low wth a 64 while Hull tagged a 66 onto her initial 68 for an eight-under-par total of 134.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - 18/08/2016: Charley Hull of Great Britain during the second round at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course, Barra Da Tijuca, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Tristan Jones/IGF)

Right behind the leaders are three players on seven under par, Marianne Skarpnord of Norway (below), Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen and Candie Kung of Chinese Taipei while the youngest player in the field, 18-year-old Aditi Ashok carries the hopes of India at six under par.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18: Marianne Skarpnord of Norway celebrates with her birdie putt on the 16th hole during the second round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Golf Course on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR/IGF)

Stacy Lewis, remarkably grounded for someone who was only married less than two weeks ago, fired a scorching women’s course record of 63 during today’s second round and stands on the brink of collecting the first Olympic gold medal in women’s golf in 116 years.

The much-decorated American takes everything in her stride, even admitting that the prospect of a visit to the Olympic diving later in the day was more exciting than the eight under par round which propelled her into the medal positions on 133, nine under par.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - 18/08/2016: Nicole Broch Larsen of Denmark during the second round at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course, Barra Da Tijuca, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Tristan Jones/IGF)

However, watching the talented divers may act as a springboard to success on Saturday afternoon, when Lewis attempts to follow in the footsteps of her compatriot, Margaret Abbot, who won for the United States in Paris way back in 1900.

Married life seems to be agreeing with Lewis, otherwise known as Mrs Chadwell, who said: “I guess I have a course record here, and it’s great to put my name on that, and being near the top of the leaderboard at the Olympics. It’s something that, I think, every kid is going to dream of doing.”

She added: “It’s been such a cool week so far, and the highlight for me was just getting to see the guys up there on the podium on 18 on Sunday getting their medals and just thinking about how cool that would be to be in their shoes and be doing that on Saturday. It’s definitely a motivating factor but I’ve had a great week and we’re enjoying it so far.”

 

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - 18/08/2016: Aditi Ashok of India during the second round at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Reserva de Marapendi Golf Course, Barra Da Tijuca, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Tristan Jones/IGF)

Quotes of the Day – Round 2

Inbee Park 132 (66, 66): “I think first coming here, I didn’t really know whether I was going to play this week or not due to the injury.  Obviously didn’t expect much of a result.  It was more of, you know, whether I can play or not.  So I mean, a good result is a great gift.”

Stacy Lewis 133 (70, 63): “I was excited from the get‑go with the announcement of the Olympics.  There are probably a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t have come and shouldn’t have done this, whether it was Zika or other issues. I just did my homework and nobody gave me a good reason why I shouldn’t come.  You’d have to ‑‑ I mean, there’d have to be something seriously wrong with me to not come play in the Olympics.  This has been so cool.  Just a different feel about it.”

Brooke Henderson (134) 70, 64:  I feel Britt (sister and caddie) and I came up with a really good strategy for this course over the last week or so, along with Team Canada.  I think so far, it’s been pretty good.  But like I say, there’s still lots of golf left and hopefully I’ll just continue to play smart but take advantage when I can.

Charley Hull 134 (68, 66): “I don’t really look at what I do.  I just kind of get off the golf course and go to the gym.  I don’t really analyse where I am.  I just kind of think, oh, yeah, I played decent, another round tomorrow.”

Marianne Skarpnord, 135 (69, 66): “When I first came there (Team Norway house), I was thinking, God, this is like going to camp or something, border school or whatever.  The food isn’t great.  The beds aren’t great.  The apartment isn’t great.  But the atmosphere and the experience is better and a lot more than I would ever think that it would be.  I’m loving it.  I think it’s really cool.”

Nicole Broch Larsen 135 (67, 68): “It’s cool (Athletes’ Village).  It’s nice to be surrounded by athletes.  I think we have a good atmosphere in the Danish, yeah, all the Danish people together.  Everybody is cheering for each other.  It’s really cool getting back there yesterday and a lot of people is like, good luck, and well played.  It’s just nice to get their support, as well.”

Aditi Ashok 136 (68, 68): “I think golf every day is different.  You never hit the same shot twice.  So every day is a new experience, and you can’t really come with any expectations.  The game is bigger than all of us, so that’s what I like about it.  Every day, you have a new experience.”

Gerina Piller 136 (69, 67): “Yeah, that would be pretty cool to have a (USA) podium sweep.  It’s definitely been talked about amongst us.  But again, there’s a lot of golf to be played and you can’t put the cart before the horse.  For me, I just want to focus on playing consistent golf and hitting good shots and making putts.”

Minjee Lee 136 (69, 67): “I think when you’re on the golf course, you don’t really think about it.  But when you’re obviously not on the golf course, you’re like, oh, you just sort of realize how big of an event it is and not just for yourself, because you’re representing your country and for women’s golf and all that.  So I think it’s pretty cool just to be here.  I think it’s amazing.  More amazing as it goes.”

Lydia Ko 139 (69, 70): “I think she (Charley Hull) realises how big of a deal it is, and especially with Justin Rose winning the Gold Medal, I know she would love to putt a contribution to GB. I think it’s just her personality that she’s just cool, outgoing, trying to play some great golf, and no matter what tournament that you’re playing, I think that’s a confidence factor; that either you’re in perfect positions or not, you’re still going out there focusing on that shot in front of me and not worrying about everything that’s gone around you.”

Full interview transcripts are available here