With two Brazilian women players who are fighting to qualify for the Olympic Games, the Rio 2016 golf test event will see the first action take place on the new Olympic Golf Course on Tuesday (8 March). The Aquece Rio Golf Challenge will feature nine Brazilian players, five men and four women, playing in the stroke play format (the player with the lowest total score wins) at the new venue which was unveiled in November.
Miriam Nagl and Victoria Lovelady will be paying special attention to the new course. Nagl is currently in the last of the 60 qualifying slots in the Olympic golf rankings while Lovelady is just outside. However, for Games organisers the focus will be on seeing how the course plays for the first time, and hearing the evaluations of the players.
“The course has been ready for some time, but no one has played on it yet. It will be important to get the athletes’ feedback”
Eduardo Vasconcellos, Rio 2016’s golf technical operations specialist
Cláudia Guedes, Rio 2016’s golf manager, said that the competition area and results system will be tested to the same level as will be expected during the Olympic Games. The event will be run by 55 Rio 2016 staff and 111 volunteers.
Along with Nagl and Lovelady will be fellow female players Candy Hannemann and Luciane Lee, and five men: former PGA Tour player Alexandre Rocha, plus Rafael Barcellos, Rafael Becker, Rodrigo Lee and Daniel Stapff.
Nagl, whose parents are German, has travelled over from her home in Berlin to check out the course created by American course designer Gil Hanse, and which has been tipped to bring the best out of the world’s top players in August.
“I believe it will be a good course that demands a lot, with lots of challenging features” Miriam Nagl
Nagle gave birth to her daughter Laura in January and has mounted a complex plan in order to continue scoring the ranking points she will need until the qualification period closes on 11 July. “It is very difficult and only works because my family help,” she said.
Lovelady, who was born in São Paulo but brought up in Rio, hails from a musical family and likes to perform bossa nova. “I had the chance to play while in China for a tour event. Who knows, maybe after my golf career, I can dedicate myself to music,” she said.
Lovelady, who earned her surname when she married an American, is the granddaughter of one of the founders of the Itanhangá Golf Club in Rio and took part in the inauguration of the Olympic Golf Course in November. “It would be priceless to play in the Olympics in my country, in my city,” she said.
“It’s a great course, I can’t wait to play on it. It demands a lot of strategy and as it’s close to the sea it will be quite windy”