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Azahara Muñoz in action. SUR
Costa del Sol golfer Azahara Muñoz edges closer to her third Olympic Games
Golf

Costa del Sol golfer Azahara Muñoz edges closer to her third Olympic Games

The Marbella player seems to be a certainty to head to Paris, and Malaga's Ana Peláez still has an outside chance

Marina Rivas

Malaga

Monday, 1 April 2024, 16:47

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With more than five months remaining before the golf tees off at the 2024 Olympic Games, and just over a month less until the qualification period closes (24 June), it seems highly likely that Spain's two best female golfers of all time, Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Muñoz, will secure their spots for the Paris event.

The pair made their Olympic debut at Rio 2016, when golf made its return to the programme, and they were both at Tokyo 2021, too. Heading into Paris, they once again emerge as Spain's clear contenders for the prestigious international sporting event, each marking their third appearance.

Muñoz, who is from Marbella, is the best-placed Malaga athlete to be the next to join swimmer María de Valdés at the Games. The 36-year-old (87th globally and 33rd in the Olympics), plus Ciganda (30th globally and 24th in the Olympics), are well ahead of all other Spanish golfers in the ranking.

Muñoz's current ranking reflects a remarkable achievement, especially considering she took a year-long break two years ago to fulfill her dream of becoming a mother. Although her performance has been somewhat inconsistent in the early stages of this season, she's still earning enough points to maintain her status and secure her Olympic berth.

An outside chance

That said, there's still an outside chance for Malaga's second-best golfer, Ana Peláez, to make it to Paris.

Peláez's evolution in recent years has been remarkable. She currently ranks as Spain's third-best female golfer in the world ranking. In 2021, she turned professional after completing her education in the United States, began securing podiums in European competitions in 2022, and had an outstanding 2023, even briefly leading the Race to Costa del Sol ranking on the Ladies European Tour. Moreover, she secured a LPGA Tour card, becoming only the third Spanish player to access the premier global tour.

Although Peláez, 26, holds a notable ninth position in the LET, she still needs to climb several positions in the world ranking, where she currently stands at 119th,

However, according to the International Golf Federation, Peláez would be Spain's first reserve to fill those two Olympic slots if Ciganda or Muñoz were to withdraw in the coming months.

How the ranking works

Only the top 60 golfers worldwide (in each gender) will compete in Paris, the same number as in Tokyo 2021. France, as the host nation, has one guaranteed slot per gender, while the remaining 59 are determined based on the Olympic Golf Ranking (OGR).

This ranking compiles players' performances over the last two years, using a scoring system approved by the International Federation, reflecting their positions in international tournaments (with higher-ranked tournaments yielding more points).

As mentioned, Spain will have two slots per gender. Only South Korea (with three) and the United States (with four) have more spots, reflecting their dominance in the sport.

Direct qualification goes to players within the top 15 at the end of the qualification period, with a maximum of four slots per country. After that, players from 16th place onwards in the OGR are selected based on the quotas of their respective nations until the quota of 60 is filled.

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