Top-seeded Team USA teed off Thursday in Round One of the LPGA’s inaugural International Crown giddy with optimism. They ended the 1st day of the tourney in utter defeat, losing both first round matches to eighth-ranked Chinese Taipei. Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, and Lexi Thompson (alphabetically ordered for a team without a captain) had dinner Thursday night with their caddies and their team liaison. Even though they knew they faced a critical juncture in the tournament and needed to win their Friday matches against red-hot Team Spain in order to keep Team USA in the game they did not talk about golf. They saved that conversation for the driving range Friday morning.
Stacy Lewis made a short, sweet speech before they went to the first tee:
. . . no matter what we’re going to do, win or lose, we’re going to fight and we’re going to grind and we’re going to have fun and be positive . . .
It worked. Team USA won both their matches and with four points on the board they’re back in the game.
Kerr and Thompson faced Beatriz Recari and Belen Mozo, who had played Team Thailand’s sister act, Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, to an all-square tie on Friday. In the next to the last match of the day, Kerr and Thompson played like a well-oiled team and finished off the match at 3 up and 2 to go, giving Team USA its first 2 points.
In the final match of the day, Creamer and Lewis took on Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz, a formidable duo who put the first points on the board Thursday in their match against Team Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and Onnarin Sattayabanphot and were on the hunt for two more points today. The Spanish dynamos were disappointed. Creamer and Lewis finished off the match handily with 2 up and added two more points the the Team USA score.
Going Into Saturday
The scores are tight and I’m looking for some hard-fought battles in the third round of four-ball matches.
In Pool A, Thailand, with five points, will play Team USA, with four points; and Chinese Taipei, with four points, will meet Spain, with three points. With a maximum of four points available to each team, the ranking could be revised yet again by the end of the Saturday rounds.
The teams in Pool B face a similar situation. Japan, leading with six points, will play Republic of Korea, with four points. I’m expecting an especially hard fought battle between the Swedes and Australians, tied at three points each going into the final round of four-ball matches.
Saturday Schedule & Pairings
11:55 a.m. – Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall & Anna Nordqvist vs. Australia’s Karrie Webb & Minjee Lee. This one is too close to predict.
12:10 p.m. – Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg and Mikaela Parmlid vs. Australia’s Katherine Kirk & Lindsey Wright. I’m looking for Kirk and Wright to win.
12:25 p.m. – Spain’s Carlota Cigands & Azahara Munoz vs. Chinese Taipei’s Yani Tseng & Pheobe Yao. Ciganda and Munoz will take this one for Spain.
12:40 p.m. – Spain’s Belen Mozo & Beatriz Recari vs. Chinese Taipei’s Candie Kung & Teresa Lu. This one is too close to predict.
12:55 p.m. – South Korea’s Inbee Park & So Yeon Ryu vs. Japan’s Mamiko Higa and Mika Miyazato. Park and Ryu will probably win but it’s going to be a close match.
1:10 p.m. – South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi and I.K. Kim vs. Japan’s Ai Miyazato & Sakura Yokomine. I’m looking for a Republic of Korea win this match.
1:25 p.m. – USA’s Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson vs. Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn and Ariya Jutanugarn. Thailand’s sister act won’t be able to withstand Kerr and Thompson.
1:40 p.m. – USA’s Paula Creamer & Stacy Lewis vs. Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and Onnarin Sattayabanphot. I’m looking for Creamer and Lewis to put this match in the Team USA win column as well.
Golf Channel will begin coverage of the Saturday round in progress at 3pm ET, and my colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will provide tournament updates as well. Follow me on Twitter @bethbethel and I’ll notify you when I publish International Crown and other tournament updates.