United States, Thailand Surge On Day Two Of 2014 International Crown; Japan Maintains Lead In Pool B

Team USA (click to enlarge)

Whether they admit it or not, Friday’s fourball against Team Spain was critical for Team USA at the 2014 International Crown. After being shut out by Taiwan on day one, another poor showing would have made any dream of winning on Sunday distant at best. With a switch in partners, the United States squad took a huge step in the right direction, earning a maximum 4 points on the day by winning both of their matches. Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis won 2 Up over Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz while Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr never trailed in taking out Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari 3 & 2. There were smiles and hugs aplenty at the end. The thrill of victory? Yes. But I suspect a bit of relief as well.

Pornanong Phatlum, Ariya Jutanugarn and Onnarin Sattayabanphot (click to enlarge)

The USA team moved into a tie with Taiwan for 2nd place in Pool A with 4 points overall. Vaulting into the lead was Thailand. Taiwan was flying high after sweeping the Americans on day one. On day two Thailand turned the tables on Taiwan by sweeping both matches. Yani Tseng nailed a clutch putt on 18 on day one, but missed a long putt on 18 on day two. Onnarin Sattayabanphot sank her birdie as she and Pornanong Phatlum bested Tseng and Phoebe Yao 1 Up. This followed a win by the Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya and Moriya, over Teresa Lu and Candie Kung 3 & 2. The prevailing thought seems to be that Thailand will be taken down by Team USA on Saturday. That could happpen. But then again, anything could happen. I loved Moo’s (Onnarin) response to a question about whether Team USA will be difficult for Thailand. Her response was it will difficult for both teams and that you never know what could happen, just come and watch.

Sakura Yokomine (click to enlarge)

In Pool B, Japan maintained their lead with 6 points overall. But the story of the day for me was their incredible comeback in the Ai Miyazato/Sakura Yokomine vs Katherine Kirk/Lindsey Wright match. The Australian team of Kirk and Wright looked poised to cruise to victory. They led from the very beginning, winning the first hole. By the 7th hole they were 5 Up and had Japan on the ropes. As they walked off the 11th green, the Aussies led Japan 6 Up with 7 holes to play. It was all but over. But it wasn’t. Japan won 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 18 to miraculously salvage a draw and earn 1 point. The highlight was an incredible 40 foot putt from the fringe by Yokomine on 17 to keep the Japanese squad alive in the match. In the other contest, Mamiko Higa and Mika Miyazato upset Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and Minjee Lee 3 & 2.

So Yeon Ryu (click to enlarge)

Australia goes into Saturday still in striking distance of Japan points-wise, as are South Korea and Sweden. The Korean and Swedish teams split their matches on Friday with Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist edging Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu 1 Up while Na Yeon Choi and In Kyung Kim won versus Mikaela Parmlid and Pernilla Lindberg by the same margin. Both matches were razor thin affairs, with neither pairing up by more than 2 holes and the majority of the match durations separated by a lone hole. Coming in South Korea was seen as a threat to win the title, and they just might. They seem to be lurking a little below the surface at the moment as Japan has grabbed the early headlines. However, now we get one of the most anticipated matches for me, South Korea vs Japan. It’s going to be fun!

 

ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE

POOL A

1 THAILAND (5 points overall/4 points today) vs T2 TAIWAN (4 points overall/zero points today)

Onnarin Sattayabanphot and Pornanong Phatlum

Pornanong Phatlum and Onnarin Sattayabanphot

Pornanong Phatlum

Yani Tseng

Yani Tseng

 

T2 USA (4 points overall/4 points today) vs 4 SPAIN (3 points overall/zero points today)

Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis

Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis

Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis

Lexi Thompson

Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer

Lexi Thompson

Cristie Kerr

Lexi Thomson and Cristie Kerr

Paula Creamer

Paula Creamer

Azahara Munoz

Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda

Azahara Munoz

Beatriz Recari

Belen Mozo

 

POOL B

1 JAPAN (6 points overall/3 points today) vs T4 AUSTRALIA (3 points overall/1 point today)

Ai Miyazato

Ai Miyazato

Mamiko Higa

Mika Miyazato

Mika Miyazato

Mika Miyazato

Minjee Lee and Karrie Webb

Karrie Webb

Minjee Lee

 

2 SOUTH KOREA (4 points overall/2 points today) vs T4 SWEDEN (3 points overall/2 points today)

Inbee Park

Inbee Park

Na Yeon Choi

 

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