Team Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg thinks fifth seeded Spain is going to be the team to watch at the LPGA International Crown. Why? “Those Spanish girls . . . they know just as well as us what these team events are like and they’re all about the same age and they’ve played a lot together growing up,” Lindberg explained.
Let’s meet these Spanish girls who while a bit short on experience in individual competition have been playing team events together for years and virtually crackle with competitive energy in individual competition.
Beatriz Recari, 37th in the world rankings, is playing her fourth year on the LPGA Tour. She’s entered 14 events this year and missed seven cuts, and she’s not recorded a top-10 finish. Recari simply hasn’t been playing to the standard she set in 2013, when she recorded nine top-ten finishes that included victories at the Kia Classic and the Marathon Classic as well as a stunning 3-1-0 performance at the Solheim Cup that Golf Week graded as an A. She’s going to need to reach deep into her bag and find that game this week.
Like Beztriz Recari, Azahara Munoz, who’s only recently been reunited with her clubs, which got lost in the international air cargo system between the RICOH Women’s British Open and the Marathon Classic, is playing her fourth year on the Tour, and she’s been having a spectacular season. World ranked 20th, Munoz has finished inside the top-10 in six of the 17 events she’s entered and two of those finishes — the HSBC Women’s Champions and the JTBC Founders Cup — were runners-up. She plays with a fiery abandon and she plays for the top of the board. Perhaps Munoz will inspire Recari if they’re paired in the 4-ball matches against Thailand on Thursday.
Carlota Ciganda is playing her third year on the Tour. World ranked 60th, like Recari Ciganda has no wins or top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour this year. She’s entered 16 events, missed 4 cuts, and her best LPGA Tour finish to date has been a T15th at the Airbus LPGA Classic although her best overall finish for the season (3rd) came last week at the LET Ladies German Open. Judging by her performance at the 2013 Solheim Cup (3-0-0), Ciganda shines in team events, exactly as Pernilla Lindberg has predicted. Golf Week gave that performance an A and I’m looking for Ciganda to play a strong team game at Caves Valley.
Belen Mozo, like Carlota Ciganda, is playing her third year on the Tour. The lowest-ranked member of Team Spain — Mozo’s world ranked 112th — she’s having her strongest year yet. She’s missed six cuts out of 15 starts and her best finish (T4th) came at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Mozo will draw on her amateur and collegiate experience to fill out Team Spain.
Play begins Thursday morning, July 24, at the International Crown and Golf Channel will provide daily coverage: Thursday, July 24 and Friday, July 25, 11:30am-3:30pm; Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27, 3-7pm, all times ET.
My colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will also provide ongoing updates and commentary. If you follow me on Twitter @bethbethel I’ll notify you when new posts are published.