Sagstrom Takes Olympic First-Round Lead In Intense Heat

Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom is leading the women's Olympic golf, after managing to score five-under at Kasuimgaseki Country Club despite the intense heat

Madelene Sagstrom Olympics golf
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom is leading the women's Olympic golf, after managing to score five-under at Kasuimgaseki Country Club despite the intense heat

Sagstrom Takes Olympic First-Round Lead In Intense Heat

Madelene Sagstrom managed to deal with the intense heat the best of the women's Olympic field at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Wednesday, as she comes away from the first round leading the tournament.

Temperatures rose to 41C/106F afternoon heat index in Japan during the opening round of the tournament, which did little to deter Swede Sagstrom as she scored a bogey-free five-under 66, including six birdies for good measure.

“I would say mostly my short game was kind of my savior,” Sagstrom said.

“I was striking the ball all right but not great, so having a strong short game and just giving myself the chances, like solid par chances was kind of the key of my round today.”

“This course is beautiful, the condition of it has been perfect from the start.

"I like long golf courses in general and it fits my game really well, so very excited with the layout, it suits my eye and the greens are rolling phenomenal which works with my putting too.”

2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist Inbee Park is currently sitting two-under in T7, but it is World No.1 Nelly Korda and Aditi Ashok that are in T2, just one shot behind leader Sagstrom.

Korda though is expecting more of herself, even after feeling light-headed during the round.

“I kind of sprayed some shots out to the right on my last two holes with my irons," Korda said, "but you're going to have that, you're going to lose a little bit of concentration, but I'm going to go to the range after, after I cool off inside for a bit and then try and work on it.

“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."

What is clear from the opening round is that the heat has proved the toughest test ever since Japan's Mone Inami teed off the opening ball of the Women's Olympic golf tournament, with players and caddies alike struggling in the conditions.

Despite having competed in worse conditions in Thailand and Singapore, Sagstrom commented on how tough playing in the heat is.

“I'm not going to lie, it's very hot,” Sagstrom said, "but it's manageable.

"I know I mean most of us have been in Asia, played a lot of golf over here so we know kind of what to do, you drink a lot of water you have cooling towels, umbrellas, kind of just maintaining the energy and not go crazy.

"I think at this point it's harder for the caddies than it is for the players, so it's more about making sure they're staying upright.”

Sagstrom's comments are apt considering that Yuka Saso had a replacement caddie the entirety of round one, after her regular caddie suffered heat stroke the day before.

Meanwhile, as Lexi Thompson walked 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.

Team USA team leader Donna Wilkins replaced Fulghum on the bag for the final holes, though this didn't have an adverse effect as Thompson birdied the 16th and 17th, before finishing the first round with a bogey.

Kasumigaseki Country Club's index was placed at level four on the heat stress index, which is the highest level and considered dangerous.

Large misting fans were placed throughout the course, and 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.

However, they also informed players that the tournament could be reduced to 54-holes as the heat is expected to stay for the entire weekend.

Ryan has worked as a junior staff writer for Golf Monthly since 2021.