Team United States went 3-1-0 in singles play on Sunday at Merit Club to capture the 2016 UL International Crown with a total of 13 points. The Americans edged out runner-up and #1 overall seed Team Korea by a single point.
Stacy Lewis (3&2 over Japan’s Mika Miyazato), Gerina Piller (4&3 over Chinese Taipei’s Yani Tseng) and Cristie Kerr (3&2 over England’s Mel Reid) made up the six points Team USA earned in the final round. Lexi Thompson was the last of the Americans to finish and was defeated 2&1 by Team Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, but it was Kerr’s win that ultimately sealed the tournament.
Lewis said she and her teammates weren’t going to change their mindset after losing both of their opening round four-ball matches on Thursday.
“We stuck to our game plan,” said Lewis. “We knew not to change our pairings. We knew that we were playing good golf, and when those pairings came out this morning, I liked the way we were positioned, and Gerina and I went out there getting points early was huge, and we got Kerr through, so we got a crown.”
Team England, which led the competition going into the singles play, went 1-3-0 on Sunday and finished with 11 points in a tie for third alongside Team Chinese Taipei. Team Japan (2-2-0 in singles) placed fifth after winning the wild card playoff early Sunday morning against Thailand and China.
Lewis Captures First Singles Win
Stacy Lewis won three straight holes from 13-15 to go 3UP on Japan's Mika Miyazato and eventually closed out her singles match with a par on 16 for Team USA’s first two points of the day. The result was her first career singles victory in international competition (Lewis is 0-2-1 all-time at Solheim Cup).
“It's awesome,” Lewis said after the match. “I haven't done what I wanted in Solheims on Sundays, and this is not quite as much pressure, but my team pulled me out here for a reason, to go get a point, or two points, I guess, and I'm just happy we could get two points on the board."
The No. 8 player in the world compiled 5 total points and a 2-1-1 overall record in the tournament.
Kerr Leads the Way
It was only fitting that Cristie Kerr, the veteran of eight Solheim Cup Teams and the all-time U.S. points leader in those matches, capture the final points and locked up the UL International Crown for Team USA.
“I had a feeling last night if we all played really well and things fell into place that my match could be huge,” Kerr said. “But I just kind of got oblivious to all of that today because it's just so hard to figure out who's making points, who's winning, who's losing, and I just tried to take care of my match. I didn't know that it had come down to me winning that match that we had won until Stacy told me.”
Kerr, who bested Mel Reid 3&2 in the deciding match, went 3-1-0 and led all US players with six points.
2018 UL International Crown Heading To Korea
The LPGA announced on Wednesday that Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Songdo International Business District, Incheon, Korea - site of The Presidents Cup 2015 - has been selected as the host course for the 2018 UL International Crown, when the biennial team match-play competition will be played outside the United States for the first time.
“If you watched the Presidents Cup in 2015, you know this is a venue that can handle big,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said. “They already know how to handle big, so a lot of times when we talk about operational challenges it’s great to work with somebody who’s already been through it from a business perspective and for what it means for this event. Literally as Keith was talking about his business and how much it’s overseas and how many of his members are all over the world and what it means to take their brand, I literally felt like just saying ditto because that’s really the LPGA story, as well.”
“The UL International Crown has already made a big impact for us in a variety of ways in terms of people talking about it as employees, people talking about it as clients, fans getting excited about the event,” added CEO of UL Keith Williams. “The question was asked how big is this going to be in Korea. Well, I think it’s going to be huge, and as Mike said, because it’s right near Incheon Airport, it’s so easy for fans to fly in from Tokyo or Beijing or Shanghai or Taipei. You’re talking two- or three-hour flights into one of the best airports in the world and lots of hotel space, including some beautiful hotels right in Songdo City, which is five minutes from the hotel to the golf course. I think that’ll be huge.”
Team Korea, which has finished third and second in their two appearances at the UL International Crown, is already looking forward to the opportunity to be crowned the best golfing nation in the world in front of their home crowd.
"I was expecting we're going to win the tournament, and I just wanted to bring more excitement to 2018 UL International Crown in Korea, but we couldn't," said So Yeon Ryu, "but I think it's going to feel really awesome to represent my country in my motherland."
Sudden Death Wildcard Playoff Recap
Ayaka Watanabe drilled a 30-foot putt for eagle on the 16th green to earn Team Japan the final spot in singles play on the first hole of the sudden death wildcard playoff Sunday morning. Watanabe's score proved to be the difference over Team Thailand and Team China who were unable to match Japan and find the cup in three strokes.
Jing Yan and Shanshan Feng of China both missed going for the par-5 16th green in two and were staring down birdie putts before Watanabe's eagle eliminated them from contention. Thailand's hopes hung in the balance with a 15-foot eagle chance from Ariya Jutanugarn. The No. 6 player in the world put a good stroke on the ball but saw it lip-out around the hole, which sealed Team Japan's place as the fifth and final team in Sunday singles play.
"Sure, I thought it went in, but it's not," Jutanugarn said. "I do my best, and we try to do our best."
Team Japan (1-3-2 in four-ball play) had just four points through the first three days, but being tied for third place with Team Thailand in Pool B was enough to give them a chance to advance to Sunday singles.
"We were all disappointed yesterday, so being able to advance is like getting revenge for all that and getting it all cleared up to go into the singles," Watanabe said once the playoff ended.
Watanabe BUilds Off Playoff Win
Ayaka Watanbe won her match 1 UP over England’s Holly Clyburn but in her mind the match was over before it began.
“I didn’t think I was going to lose,” Watanabe said through an interpreter.
The reason for the confidence was her 30-foot eagle putt during the wildcard playoff earlier in the day which helped advance Japan to the singles competition.
“This is the first international experience, and so especially this big of a tournament, so it'll be a good experience for me and for the future a good experience for me.”