INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — South Korea held off challenges from the United States and England to win the eight-nation UL International Crown for the first time, lifting the trophy in front of a delighted home crowd at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club on Sunday.
The top-seeded host nation started the final round two points clear of the chasing pack and won two of the four singles match-ups to finish with 15 points, four ahead of defending champion the United States and England.
Thailand finished fourth with ten points while Sweden collected nine. Australia, Taiwan and Japan were all eliminated at the end of the third round.
In the final round, only world no.1 Sung Hyun Park lost of the South Korean quartet, finishing 2 and 1 down against Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand.
I.K. Kim defeated England's Bronte Law 2 up, In Gee Chun overcame Anna Nordqvist of Sweden 1 up and So Yeon Ryu shared the points with Lexi Thompson of the United States.
Only Jessica Korda recorded a victory for Team US in the final round, winning 4 and 3 against Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom. Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr both lost, to Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand and Georgia Hall of England respectively.
The tournament was affected by typhoon Kong-rey which wiped out all of Saturday's play.
Singles Match Recaps
Caroline Hedwall (SWE) halved with Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (THA)
Playing in her first UL International Crown, Thailand’s Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong birdied the par-4 first hole, immediately getting a step ahead of Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall. The rest of the match was a see-saw affair, with Santiwiwatthanaphong never able to pull clear by more than two holes. Hedwall, a long-time stalwart of the European Solheim Cup Team, also never able to pull all square until the moment when it truly counted. Hedwall’s birdie at the par-5 18th sealed the comeback halve to open the singles competition.
“I was down the whole match basically, so it's really important to just get one point out of this,” said Hedwall. “I've been fighting on, and it's just nice when it paid off at the end.”
Charley Hull (ENG) def. Pornanong Phatlum (THA), 1 up
Both Charley Hull and Pornanong Phatlum held the lead during their singles match. Hull won the first two holes with pars to quickly go 2 up, but Phatlum took the fourth hole at par to pull within one. Birdies from Phatlum at Nos. 7 and 9 swung the lead in the Thai’s advantage, and she carried a 1-up lead to the 14th hole. From there, Hull again flipped the match, carding birdie-3s at holes 14 and 16 en route to the 1-up win.
Pernilla Lindberg (SWE) def. Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG), 1 up
A closing flurry of birdies capped a hard-fought comeback for 2018 ANA Inspiration champion Pernilla Lindberg. The Swede carded birdies on four of the final five holes, rallying from 2 down at the turn and capturing a 1-up win over Jodi Ewart Shadoff. The defining moment came at No. 18, when Ewart Shadoff failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker and giving Lindberg two putts to win the match. Lindberg only needed one of those putts, nailing the birdie try and punctuating the comeback with an emphatic fist pump.
“I was just never giving up,” said Lindberg. “I haven't brought my ‘A’ game this week. I haven't been playing that well. But I just dug deep and managed to find something the last few holes.”
Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) def. Michelle Wie (USA), 2 and 1
In a quiet match that saw only four holes won, Moriya Jutanugarn knocked in a 15-foot birdie at No. 17 to take a 2-and-1 win over Michelle Wie. The petite Thai, who stands nearly a foot shorter than her American opponent, first took the lead on the par-5 third hole with a birdie and added to her lead with another birdie at No. 10. Wie birdied the par-4 12th to pull within one but was never truly able to gather any momentum.
“I’ve been playing good,” said Jutanugarn, who is now 4-4-3 all-tine in UL International Crown competition. “I hit it solid and hit a lot of good shots, gave myself a lot of good chances.”
Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) def. Sung Hyun Park (KOR), 2 and 1
In a match-up that defined firepower and starpower, Rolex Rankings No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn earned a 2-and-1 win over Rolex Rankings No. 1 and fan darling Sung Hyun Park. The duo, well matched with prodigious length off the tee, stayed all square until No. 8, when Park’s birdie pulled her clear by one. Jutanugarn squared the match with a birdie of her own at No. 13 and pulled 1 up with another birdie at No. 15.
Jessica Korda (USA) def. Madelene Sagstrom (SWE), 4 and 3
UL International Crown rookie Jessica Korda made a triumphant debut in the Sunday singles, with patience as her watchword, as she came from 1 down after four holes with three birdies over the next 10 on the way to a 4 and 3 victory over Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom.
"I just stayed patient," said Korda, after sealing the win on the 15th green. "I gave myself a lot of opportunities and played smart, especially coming down the stretch. I didn't want to give up too many shots ... in match play you try to play as aggressive as possible, but I actually was taking it back and laying it up instead of going for it, so I really was trying to protect something."
In Gee Chun (KOR) def. Anna Nordqvist (SWE), 1 upKorea’s first singles match win came from In Gee Chun, who defeated Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, 1 up. Sweden’s top player trailed from start to finish and was never able to erase Chun’s lead, which was built to 4 up through 10 holes.
“I think this week is really good experience for me,” said Chun, playing in her second UL International Crown. “My golf game was not really well but I can say I can get a lot of confidence from this week.”
Georgia Hall (ENG) def. Cristie Kerr (USA), 2 and 1
2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open champion Georgia Hall handed 20-time LPGA winner Cristie Kerr just her third overall loss at the UL International Crown in three appearances and her first singles loss in the tournament by a score of 2 and 1. Hall controlled the match from the get-go and held a lead for 17 of 18 holes, yet Kerr never allowed her to push the lead more than 2 up at any point.
Hall’s win ultimately sealed England’s tie for second place alongside the United States.
In-Kyung Kim (KOR) def. Bronte Law (ENG), 2 up
The deciding points for Team Korea at the UL International Crown came when In-Kyung Kim defeated Bronte Law in the ninth singles match, 2 up. Kim was down as many as two holes and never led until a string of three consecutive birdies spurred wins on holes 12-14 and swung the match in her favor.
Kim finished the week 3-1-0 in her second appearance at the ULIC.
So Yeon Ryu halved with Lexi Thompson (USA)
A back-and-forth match between two of the top five players in the world ended in a stalemate as Rolex Rankings No. 3 So Yeon Ryu and Rolex Rankings No. 5 Lexi Thompson halved the final singles match. Ryu led for just three holes following an opening birdie, but Thompson pushed back taking three of the next nine holes for a 2-up lead. Ryu would respond by winning two of the final five holes for an ultimate tie and one point for each team.
The valiant effort by Thompson secured a tie for second for the defending champions Team USA with England.
15 PTS - Republic of Korea (In Gee Chun, In-Kyung Kim, Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu)
11 PTS - United States (Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie)
11 PTS - England (Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, Bronte Law, Jodi Ewart Shadoff)
10 PTS - Thailand (Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong)
9 PTS - Sweden (Caroline Hedwall, Pernilla Lindberg, Anna Nordqvist, Madelene Sagstrom)
7 PTS - Australia (Katherine Kirk, Minjee Lee, Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith)
5 PTS - Japan (Nasa Hataoka, Mamiko Higa, Misuzu Narita, Ayako Uehara)
0 PTS - Chinese Taepei (We-Ling Hsu, Candie Kung, Teresa Lu, Phoebe Yao)