S. Korea wins both matches on opening day of International Crow

October 4, 2018

INCHEON, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) — Host South Korea captured both of its matches to open an LPGA international team competition on Thursday.

South Korea earned four points from two four-ball matches on Day 1 of the UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. This is the third edition of the International Crown, and the first to be held outside the United States.

On a warm afternoon with an occasional breeze at the par-72, 6,508-yard layout, Park Sung-hyun and Kim In-kyung beat Candie Kung and Phoebe Yao of Chinese Taipei 1-up.

Moments later, Ryu So-yeon and Chun In-gee followed up with a 2-up win over Teresa Lu and Hsu Wei-Ling of Chinese Taipei.

In the four-ball match, players each hit their own ball, and the better score of the two becomes that team’s score on the given hole.

Each match victory is worth two points, and a halve (a tie) is good for one point.

South Korea leads Pool A with four points, ahead of England (three points), Australia (one) and Chinese Taipei (zero).

South Korea will face Australia on Friday. It was scheduled to play England on Saturday, but LPGA moved up Friday’s tee times by a little over two hours to prepare for a possible weather delay caused by approaching Typhoon Kong-rey. The South Korea-England match will begin Friday afternoon as soon as the countries’ second-round matches are complete.

Park Sung-hyun (L) and Kim In-kyung of South Korea bump fists after Park's eagle at the 14th hole during the UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Park Sung-hyun (L) and Kim In-kyung of South Korea bump fists after Park’s eagle at the 14th hole during the UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Top-seeded South Korea is trying to win its first International Crown, after finishing third in 2014 and second in 2016.

Park and Kim took a 1-up lead over Kung-Yao with Kim’s birdie at the second hole, but Kung picked up a birdie at No. 4 to even the match. Another birdie by Kung at the par-four sixth put Chinese Taipei ahead 1-up.

But Kim responded with two straight birdies at the seventh and the eighth and restored a 1-up lead for South Korea.

Kung and Yao both birdied the ninth hole and the match was all square once again at the turn.

After Kim carried the load for South Korea on the back nine, Park came through with a birdie at the 10th, as South Korea reclaimed its one-hole lead.

Park then drained an eagle putt at the 263-yard, par-four 14th, after reaching the green off the tee.

Kung also drove the green but missed her eagle attempt, as South Korea built a 2-up lead.

Kung made a birdie to win the 15th hole for Chinese Taipei and cut the deficit to 1-up. But Park and Kim were able to hang on over the final three holes, and Kim closed out the match by sinking a birdie putt to match Kung’s birdie at the par-five 18th.

Chun-Ryu and Lu-Hsu remained all square after a quiet opening nine, with the teams picking up just one birdie each.

Chun broke the deadlock with a long birdie at the 11th, but Hsu’s birdie at the 14th squared the match.

Chun birdied the 15th put South Korea up by one hole again with three to play, and the Koreans won the finishing hole for a 2-up victory.

Chun In-gee of South Korea watches her tee shot at the 10th hole during the UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Chun In-gee of South Korea watches her tee shot at the 10th hole during the UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This was the first day of the four-day competition.

Eight teams have been divided into two groups. South Korea is in Pool A with England, Australia and Chinese Taipei. The Pool B countries are the U.S., Japan, Thailand and Sweden.

In Thursday’s other matches, the defending champion United States split its two matches with Sweden in Pool B.

Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson defeated Pernilla Lindberg and Madelene Sagstrom 2-up. But Sweden got its two points when Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall edged out Jessica Korda and Michelle Wie 2-up.

Also in Pool B, Thailand picked up three points against Japan. Ariya Jutanugarn and Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong beat Misuzu Narita and Mamiko Higa 2 &1.

Then Ariya’s older sister, Moriya, teamed up with Pornanong Phatlum for a tie against Nasa Hataoka and Ayako Uehara.

In Pool A, England took three points against Australia.

Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart Shadoff defeated Katherine Kirk and Su Oh 4 & 3.

Then Charley Hull and Georgia Hall for England halved the match with Minjee Lee and Sarah Jane Smith of Australia.

Over the first three days, each country will play two four-ball matches against each of the other three countries in the same group.

The top two teams from each group and one wild card winner will qualify for the singles match on Sunday. Each nation will play one singles match against every other country. The team with the highest point total after four days of competition will be crowned the champion.

The four players on the winning team will each receive US$100,000.

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