Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico City, Mexico) competed in gymnastics until she was 11-years-old and always dreamed of being the next Nadia Comaneci and landing a perfect 10 in the Olympics one day. Instead of a perfect 10 score, Llaneza is hoping to qualify for the golf portion of the Olympics and is in good position along with fellow Volvik Race for the Card graduate Giulia Molinaro (Treviso, Italy).
“To now have the chance to realize that dream with golf is amazing,” said Llaneza, who finished seventh on the money list with a win at the 2015 Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic. “I would hear and watch Nadia Comaneci's perfect ten scores and be so motivated by her. I still love watching the Olympics and love watching gymnastics and ice skating. I love watching the best of the best controlling their mind and their body and watching the fluid motions.”
Without complicating this article, the top 60 in the final IGF (International Golf Federation) rankings will get to represent their countries. As of November 5, Llaneza ranks No. 52 while Molinaro is No. 53. So, if the Olympics started today, both 2015 Epson Tour graduates would be heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
"To play in the Olympics would be a dream come true, everyone watches the Olympics and every athlete dreams about participating in them,” said Molinaro, who finished 2nd on the money list. "It would be an honor to represent Italy and to be one of the few to have the opportunity of playing.”
Italy will likely get just two players into the Olympics. Molinaro is the second highest ranked player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings representing Italy. Giulia Sergas is the top ranked Italian at No. 270. Molinaro, ranked No. 340, has two players right behind her. Diana Luna ranks No. 350 and Margherita Rigon No. 388. Molinaro is well aware of those right behind her.
“I need to have a good start and play well in the beginning of the year (2016) as there are three Italians close in the rankings,” said Molinaro. “Italy has helped me immensely with golf, without them I wouldn't be where I am today. They have incredible coaches and in my junior career they allowed me to play all around Europe in international tournaments. I would love to represent my country.”
Meanwhile, Mexico will likely get one, maybe two players into the Olympics. Llaneza’s closest Mexican counterpart is Gabby Lopez (No. 481), who is in Final Stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament next month.
“It would mean everything,” said Llaneza, whose mentor is Lorena Ochoa, the greatest Mexican golfer of all-time and a Epson Tour graudate. “I always play for my country and I think that is the biggest stage in sports to do it, so it would be an amazing experience to compete with athletes from all over the world that gather once every four years to celebrate the passion that we feel for our sport. It would be a great honor and experience.”
Both Molinaro and Llaneza said that playing on the LPGA next year is the highest priority, but qualifying for the Olympics is a “bucket list” dream.
Come August 17, 2016, both hope to be teeing it up Barra da Tijuca proudly wearing their country colors.