It’s match play and just about anything can happen, and Yani Tseng proved it. On Day One at the International Crown Tseng led underdog Team Chinese Taipei to an unexpected shut out of top-seeded Team USA and ended the first round at the Crown as the only team in the eight-way contest to have scored the maximum four points for the day. There were other surprises as well. Aussies Karrie Webb and Minjee Lee put two points on the board for Team Australia when they won their match against 2nd-seeded Team Korea’s Na Yeon Choi and IK Kim two up; Teams Spain and Japan both won one match and tied the other and ended the day with three points each; and the Jutanugarn sisters saved the day for Team Thailand by playing Spains’s Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari to a tie and putting one point on the board.
Chinese Taipei & Yani Tseng
Chinese Taipei, the eighth-ranked team heading into the competition, shocked the field when at the end of the day it was the only team to win both matches and lead the field going into the second day of the International Crown.
Candie Kung and Teresa Lu had the biggest victory of the day when they trumped Solheim Cup veterans Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer 4&3. Teammates Yani Tseng and Phoebe Yao needed all 18 holes to earn their 1-up victory over Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson. Tseng sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the final hole and said the thrill of victory was a feeling she’s been craving for a long time.
A player who’s ranked No. 36 on the LPGA money list hardly need a career resurrection, but Tseng’s just looking for the old her to come back. She’s not exactly the typical top-40 player. She’s a five-time major champion who won all before she was even 23 and had one of the greatest years in women’s golf history in 2011 with seven wins, including two majors. She won three times in 2012, but we haven’t really seen that Yani since.
Flashes of the Yani of old popped up from the opening hole Thursday when she hit her
approach to three-feet and again on the fourth and sixth hole when she poured in a birdie.
I felt like the old Yani is back . . . Today, this feeling, I haven’t had this feeling for a long time.
Friday: Chinese Taipei vs Thailand
Taipei meets Thailand on Friday, and both teams will replay their first round line-ups: Tseng and Yao will take on Pornanong Phatlum and Onnarin Sattayabanphot, who lost their match against Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz today and Candie Kung and Teresa Lu will meet Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari, who played the Jutanugarn sisters to a tie today.
Can Tseng and Yao deliver a second clutch performance on Friday? They’ll certainly have the mental advantage. Phatlum and Sattayabanphot are coming into Friday carrying the baggage of a 3 & 2 loss to Ciganda and Munoz.
Friday: USA vs Spain
And what about Team USA? They’re the only team among the eight countries to have changed their line-up for their Friday matches against Spain.
Lewis will team up with Paula Creamer to take on Ciganda and Munoz while Lexi Thompson will share the battle again Mozo and Recari with Cristie Kerr.
The Americans are now facing an uphill battle. Spain’s coming in hot.
Ciganda and Munoz, former Arizona State teammates, picked up right where they left off in the 2013 Solheim Cup, putting the first ever points on the board in the International Crown with a dominant 4 & 2 victory over Phatlum and Sattayabanphot. No duo in the event has better vibes at Caves Valley than Ciganda and Munoz. This is where Arizona State team won the 2009 NCAA Championships.
And in their match against the Jutanugarn sisters, Recari and Mozo fought effectively as a team, coming from behind on the 17th hole to take their match to an all-square finish.
Round 2 at the International Crown begins Friday morning, July 25, at 9am local time and Golf Channel will provide begin coverage at 11:30am 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.