Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller have been named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Golf Team and will participate in women’s golf's return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 116 years.
The only time women golfed at the Olympic Games was in 1900 in Paris, where the United States swept the podium. Margaret Abbott claimed the gold medal, while Pauline Whittier took the silver and Daria Pratt won the bronze.
With two players ranked in the top nine of both the world and Olympic rankings, the United States will challenge a deep South Korean contingent that will send four top-10 players onto the tee at the Reserva de Marapendi in Rio’s Barra da Tijuca zone.
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Thompson, 21, demonstrated her skill at an early age and, in 2007, became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open, a mark that stood until 2014. That same year she became the second-youngest winner in the American Junior Golf Association, and her victory at the Westfield Junior PGA Championship made her the youngest winner in Junior PGA Championship history. She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open again in 2008 and 2009, making the cut in the latter at the age of 14. She was a key player on the U.S. team for the 2010 Curtis Cup, winning four matches and tying a fifth, which inspired her to turn professional. She since has won seven times on the LPGA Tour, including her first major win at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, where she became the second-youngest to win a women’s major. Currently No. 4 in the world, her most recent win was Feb. 28 at the Honda LPGA Thailand. She has made two appearances at the Solheim Cup.
Lewis established herself as a four-time All-American at the University of Arkansas despite taking a redshirt her freshman year to recover from spinal fusion surgery to address scoliosis. A two-time Southeastern Conference tournament champion, she won the 2007 NCAA title and was named Golf Digest’s Amateur of the Year. In 2008, she became the first player to go 5-0 in a single Curtis Cup, propelling the United States to a 13-7 win in her final amateur competition. Since turning professional in 2008, Lewis, 31, has amassed 11 LPGA Tour wins, including two majors: the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2013 Women’s British Open. Currently ranked eighth in the world and ninth in the Olympic rankings, she has recorded 15 top-10 finishes in 36 majors. Lewis is a veteran of three Solheim Cup teams.
Piller, a New Mexico native, won the state golf championship for The University of Texas at El Paso, where she played all four years. She won four tournaments as a senior, including the 2007 Conference USA championship, and was named the UTEP Female Athlete of the Year. She turned professional in September of that year and has recorded three top-10 finishes in a women’s major, including sixth-place finishes at the 2012 Women’s PGA Championship and the 2016 ANA Inspiration, formerly known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She has made the cut in 17 of the 23 women’s majors she has played. In 2015, she posted a 3-0-1 record and sank a key putt to help the U.S. rally for a come-from behind victory over Europe at the Solheim Cup. The 31-year-old is the No. 15 player in the world and No. 13 at the Olympics.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes four men’s golfers, all of whom are ranked in the top eight in the Olympic rankings: Bubba Watson (No. 6 - world, No. 1 - Olympic), Rickie Fowler (No. 7 - world, No. 3 - Olympic), Patrick Reed (No. 14 - world, No. 7 - Olympic) and Matt Kuchar (No. 17 - world, No. 8 - Olympic).