2014 has been a year of United States resurgence on the LPGA Tour with 11 of 18 tournaments so far won by Americans, including all 3 Majors to date. Meanwhile, former world #1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan is still struggling to recapture her past mastery. Well, you wouldn’t have known those two things were the case on day one of the inaugural International Crown as underdog Taiwan shocked the heavily favored Americans by winning both fourball matches, including the most lopsided win of the day as Candie Kung and Teresa Lu dominated two former US Women’s Open champions, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr 4 & 3. The exclamation point was a clutch putt on 18 by Yani to shut the door on Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson at 1 Up. It’s only the first day, so there is time for the United States to bounce back. However, the ghosts of the 2013 Solheim Cup loss to Europe were awakened by their opening round showing.
While Taiwan was the only team to collect 4 points (2 points for each win), right behind them in Pool A is Spain at 3 points. Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda bested Pornanong Phatlum and Onnarin Sattayabanphot of Thailand 3 & 2 while Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo finished All Square with the Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya and Moriya. For that split, Thailand also gets on the board with 1 point. However, sisters May and Mo know they will need more points on day two.
Pool B is also led by a team not eligible for Solheim Cup as Japan grabbed 3 points to lead their group of four. Ai Miyazato and (my favorite JLPGAer) Sakura Yokomine won 2 up versus Pernilla Lindberg and Mikaela Parmlid of Sweden. Mamiko Higa and Mika Miyazato were able to wrest a split from Solheim standouts Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall. It would be somewhat fitting if a team not eligible for Solheim Cup were to win the inaugural International Crown. There’s still a long way to go, though.
Tied for 2nd in Pool B are South Korea and Australia. Like the American team of Creamer and Kerr, South Korea fielded an all-US Women’s Open winner pairing of Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu. Unlike the Americans, Inbee and So Yeon won their match over Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright 3 & 2. The Aussie struck back with Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and “amateur” Minjee Lee winning 2 Up over Na Yeon Choi and In Kyung Kim. When critics talked about those not able to play Solheim Cup, a frequent theme was the exclusion of so many great South Korean players. They are a strong team. But also remember that the Aussies can’t play Solheim Cup, either. I, for one, am so happy to see this event!
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TAIWAN (4 points) vs USA (zero points)
SPAIN (3 points) vs THAILAND (1 point)
JAPAN (3 points) vs SWEDEN (1 point)
SOUTH KOREA (2 points) vs AUSTRALIA (2 points)