Players and caddies struggled with the conditions at Kasumigaseki Country Club amid the scorching temperatures
Soaring Heat Proves Unbearable During Women’s Olympic First-Round
Wednesday’s opening round of the Women’s Olympic golf at Kasumigaseki Country Club saw players and caddies having to contend with an intense climate, as temperatures reached as high as 41C/105.8F.
Kasumigaseki’s index was placed at level four on the heat stress index, which is the highest level and considered dangerous.
While Madelene Sagstrom seemingly thrived in the sweltering heat as she hit a five-under 66 to lead the Women’s Olympic golf after the first-round, the same cannot be said for some caddies and players.
US Women’s Open winner Yuka Saso had a replacement caddie the entirety of round one, after her regular caddie suffered heat stroke the day before.
Lexi Thompson’s caddie suffered too, though this time the incident occurred on the course while they were walking to her second shot on the 15th.
Her caddie, Jack Fulghum, had to sit in the shade for fear of passing out with heat stroke, with Team USA team leader Donna Wilkins replacing him on the bag for the final holes.
Thompson recounted the event: “He just asked me, he’s like, ‘Do I look white to you’?
“And I’m like, I didn’t really notice, but he just didn’t look good, I just want him to be healthy, that’s all.
“I’m from Florida and I’m still not used to that bad of heat.
“I just hope that he’s okay and he gets the hydration he needs, the nutrients tonight to go into the next few days – if not, I’ll figure something else out.”
Nelly Korda, who is currently T2 just one shot behind leader Sagstrom, is also from Florida, though that didn’t stop the heat from affecting her.
“I think the mental aspect of it is probably the hardest just because you have to keep yourself hydrated and you kind of lose it a little out there,” Korda admitted.
“But I kept myself in it, made sure I drank a lot of electrolytes, too.”
Olympic silver medallist from Rio 2016 Lydia Ko also struggled with the temperature, suggesting that her concentration waned when she should’ve been focussing on her shots.
“I’m trying to not think about how hot it is and just focus on my shots,” Ko said.
“We’re out there for five hours so being focused is so important and I think when you keep thinking to yourself, Oh my God, it’s so hot.
“I think it disburses where you should be focusing.”
While large misting fans were placed throughout the course, the IGF Competitions Committee have stated that they will implement more heat mitigation measures for players, including providing umbrellas to players and caddies, cooling towels, and roving carts filled with ice.
The intense temperatures are expected to last high through Thursday and Friday, before an approaching storm is set to bring rain and more moderate temperatures for the final round.
However, this storm has forced Olympic officials to consider cutting the event to 54 holes, should the rain leave the course unplayable.
“Due to a poor weather forecast beginning on Saturday through Sunday, the Women’s Olympic Golf Competition may be reduced to a 54-hole competition,” the IGF Competitions Committee told players.