RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand became the first player to top a women's Olympic golf leaderboard in 116 years as the event made a historic Games return on Wednesday.
She shot a six-under 65 in showing flashes of the form that won her last month's British Open as nearly half the field of 60 seized on fine conditions in Rio de Janeiro to shoot under par.
World No. 5 Park In Bee and South Korean team-mate Kim Sei Young were a shot back with a pair of 66s, underscoring high gold-medal hopes for their country's dominant golfers. T
he tournament got under way three days after Britain's Justin Rose won the first men's gold medal in 112 years in a down-to-the-wire battle with Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
A shadow was cast over the men's event after more than 20 top male stars, including the world's four highest-ranked players, opted out.
But the women's competition features a star-studded field.
Park shook off a left thumb injury that had threatened her participation in the Games to shoot a bogey-free round. She leads four South Koreans in the field - more than any other country - all of whom are ranked among the world's top 10.
While it took men's golf 112 years to return, there has not been a women's event since American Margaret Abbott won a nine-hole Olympic competition at the Paris Games in 1900.