Tough competition in women’s event

MINJEE Lee secured her maiden Major championship breakthrough last week in the Evian Championship in France.

This week she could add an Olympic gold medal to her trophy cabinet and there are not many who would bet against her doing so at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, Japan.

But despite coming into the Olympics with such good form, Lee could find it difficult to prevail when the women’s competition starts on Thursday.

Among those likely to prove her biggest threats are this season’s three other first-time Major winners – Nelly Korda, Yuka Saso and Patty Tavatanakit.

Then of course, there are also the winners from the Rio Games to be considered, In-Bee Park, Lydia Ko and Shanshan Feng, who won the gold, silver and bronze, respectively.

Also expected to be there or thereabouts when the medals are being handed out are Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim and Hyo-Joo Kim, who along with Park, make up the formidable South Korean quartet in Tokyo.

World number one Nelly Korda will be joined by her sister Jessica (No 15), Danielle Kang (5) and Lexi Thompson (12) in the United States line-up – the only other four-strong team in the women’s golf competition.

Tavatanakit, who won the Ana Inspiration in February, will have Ariya Jutanugarn keeping her company in Thai colours, while US Women’s Open champion Saso, will represent the Philippines with Bianca Pagdanganan.

Lee and Hannah Green, the 2019 Women’s PGA Championship winner, will carry the Australia flag in the women’s game.

Canadian Brooke Henderson is also likely to get good backing for a podium finish, while the the nation of Japan will be hoping Nasa Hataoka and Mone Inami come through for them.

Kelly Tan is Malaysia’s sole representative in the women’s tournament. Having featured in Rio, the LPGA player is expected to give a good account of herself and enjoy the experience while at it.

In the build-up to the Games, Tan said she was looking forward to it – a good sign for good things to happen.

But with the likes of Minjee Lee and Nelly Korda in attendance, it might prove difficult to leave Tokyo with a medal of any colour.