In Saturday’s final round of the Olympic Women’s Golf Competition, Verchenova shot 62, advancing on the mark established by Marcus Fraser and Matt Kuchar in the men’s competition and equaled by Stacy Lewis on Friday. Making Verchenova’s magical round even more incredible is the fact that it included a hole-in-one on the Rio Olympic Course’s fourth hole.
Verchenova is a two-time Russian amateur champ and was the first Russian to become a full-time member of the Ladies European Tour. She is currently ranked No. 348 in the Rolex Ranking. The Ladies European Tour pro from Moscow was the lone Russian golfer to qualify for the Olympics, but her eligibility was put in doubt after the World Anti-Doping Agency recommended a blanket ban on all Russian athletes following the discovery of Russia’s state-sanctioned doping operation.
A least 119 Russian athletes were banned from the Rio Games, including the entire weightlifting team and all but a single member of the track and field team. According to IGF vice president Ty Votaw, “the IOC notified the IGF and Russian Olympic Committee that Ms. Maria Verchenova’s entry to the women’s individual golf event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was confirmed.”
Against all the challenges with the Russian athletes, Maria Verchenova made a life time impression on the world of sport, as she has now become the center of all conversation around women’s athleticism and their ability to excel under the most extreme circumstances. Gary Player said: “Women’s golf is like a Tsunami coming” did he mean like the story surrounding Maria Verchenova, who in one day turned the whole sporting world upside down. Women in sport in general are fast becoming a reality that cannot be given second attention, but priority.