Choi fighting for South Korean Olympic berth

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DALY CITY, Calif. – Na Yeon Choi moved into position to make a run at her second LPGA victory this season.

With a 4-under 68 Friday, Choi climbed into second place at the Swinging Skirts Classic, two shots behind Brooke Henderson.

There’s more than a big paycheck and trophy at stake for Choi. There are valuable world-ranking points.

With golf returning to the Olympics in 2016, competition for spots to make the South Korean team is intense, with so many players bunched on the qualification cutoff for the games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Olympic golf competition will feature 60 players, drawn from the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. The top 15 players in the world rankings will secure spots. However, no country can have more than four players qualify. The South Koreans and Americans each have five players inside the top 15.

The competition among South Koreans is especially intense with 11 players among the top 25 in the world. The Americans have seven players among the top 25.

“That’s one of the biggest dreams there is for us, to play in the Olympics,” Choi said. “Everyone wants to make it, and there are only four spots, and we’re all competing with each other to make it. To be the first South Korean golfers to make the team, to be the first to win a gold medal, it would be huge. It would have a huge impact on our sport in our country.”

Choi is just outside the top 15. She’s No. 18 in the world, which makes her the seventh highest ranked South Korean. LPGA rookie Sei Young Kim, the only two-time LPGA winner this year, is No. 16 in the world. She said she came over to play the LPGA this year specifically to qualify for the Olympics because there are so many more world-ranking points available on the tour.