No. 4 Sweden vs. No. 8 People’s Republic of China
Madelene Sagstrom/Maja Stark (SWE) d. Ruoning Yin/Xiyu Lin (CHN), 2&1
As the temperatures dropped on day two at TPC Harding Park, it was Madelene Sagstrom and Maja Stark who continued their hot streak, defeating Xiyu Lin and Ruoning Yin 2 and 1 in Friday’s Four-Ball match to help Sweden clinch a spot in the Sunday semifinals. The teams tied the first four holes, each going par-par-birdie-par, but it was Sagstrom who made the first move, making birdie on the par-5 5th to put Sweden 1 up on the People’s Republic of China. A Stark birdie two holes later on No. 7 put the Swedes 2 up and another Sagstrom birdie on the 8th hole extended the lead to 3 up. Yin and Lin both made birdie on No. 12 to win the hole and get a shot back for the team, but they were unable to pull off a late comeback, tying the next five holes with Sweden to fall 2 and 1.
“I think I hit my irons pretty good today, so I told Maja – I hit some good shots out of the trees and stuff. I was like, don't worry, don't count me out, I'll be fine. Been putting really well for two days. I struggled a bit with my putting earlier this year and now I'm starting to find back to myself again,” said Sagstrom. “What's worked really well for us is we've been bouncing back and forth. She does a good hole, I do a good hole. It's been extremely comfortable having her by my side and so much belief in her and her game. It's just so much fun.”
Stark says that being able to rely on Sagstrom’s consistency has freed her up, helping her to contribute to the team with birdies of her own. “(Madelene has) been playing so well the past couple days,” said Stark. “I'm so confident in her abilities, so I feel like I can go for more pins, and yeah, have that confidence myself to actually try to get it close every time.”
Anna Nordqvist/Caroline Hedwall (SWE) d. Ruixin Liu/Yu Liu (CHN), 2&1
The seemingly unbeatable Swedish duo of Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall had their hands full with the Republic of China Team on Friday at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, but the pair managed to beat Ruixin Liu and Yu Liu 2 and 1 to earn their fourth point of the event. Sweden went 1 up early after a Nordqvist birdie on the par-5, 3rd hole and extended their lead to 2 up after Hedwall birdied No. 4. Both Swedes made birdies on the par-4 6th to move the team to 3 up, but China got a shot back on the 9th hole when Yu Liu grabbed her second birdie of the day, now 2 down with nine holes to play. The teams each made par on the first four holes of the back nine and a pair of birdies from the Republic of China Team on the par-5 14th hole got them back to just 1 down with four to go. But the valiant effort from Liu and Liu just wasn’t enough as Hedwall came up clutch on holes 15 and 16, making two birdies back-to-back to close out the match 2 and 1.
“Wanted to make that putt, to be honest, to put pressure,” said Hedwall of her birdie putt on 16. “But it was really nice to see it go in. We made two really good putts on 15, as well, so I felt like I had the momentum going, but obviously really nice to go 2 up with two to go.”
It’s the second consecutive day that Sweden has gone undefeated, a stellar performance that clinched the team a spot in the semifinals on Sunday. Nordqvist, the unofficial captain of the Sweden Team, was impressed with her team on Friday and is looking forward to a shot at winning Sweden’s first Hanwha International Crown with two days of play left at TPC Harding Park.
“I'm really proud of my team. I think we've all grown up with a lot of match play, a lot of playing for Sweden in the European team events and the World Amateur Championships. I think we're just very comfortable and very confident,” said Nordqvist. “There's just something special to it. We fight until the end. It's match play; you never know what's going to happen. It can go either way. I feel like we've had a lot of fun this week, and I feel like that's been working to our advantage.”
No. 3 Japan (JPN) vs. No. 7 Australia (AUS)
Minjee Lee/Stephanie Kyriacou (AUS) def. Nasa Hataoka/Ayaka Furue (JPN), 2 up
The Australian duo of Minjee Lee and Stephanie Kyriacou remain undefeated after their second matchup of the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, defeating Nasa Hataoka and Ayaka Furue 2 up on Friday. Hataoka and Furue, who didn’t play together on Thursday, were the first to take the lead on the par-4 7th, with Furue notching the only birdie of the four players. Japan remained 1 up until back-to-back birdies from the Australians on holes 10 and 11 gave them their first lead of the day, but another Furue birdie on 12 tied the match once again, with Japan taking a late 1 up lead to the 15th tee.
From No. 15 on, the Australians kicked it into high gear with birdies in three of their last four holes, as the match went all the way to 18. Following Kyriacou’s birdie on 15, both players stuffed it close on 17 and made birdies, then closed out the match with a pair of birdies on the par-5 18th to solidify their victory and earn a valuable point that helped them clinch a spot in the semifinals on Sunday.
“We just tried to do the same as yesterday, but I didn't hit the ball as good today,” said Lee. “Steph probably made a few more birdies and kind of got us over the line. Yeah, great partner.”
Hinako Shibuno/Yuka Saso (JPN) tied Hannah Green/Sarah Kemp (AUS)
Partners Hinako Shibuno and Yuka Saso earned the first points for the Japan Team in this year’s edition of the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown after tying their match against Australians Hannah Green and Sarah Kemp on Friday at TPC Harding Park. Battling through bitter winds, the Japanese Team went back and forth with the Aussies, with the match tied after the first nine holes. Green and Kyriacou both made birdies on No. 11 to take a short-lived 1-up lead before Saso once again tied the match with a birdie on 12. A Shibuno birdie on 14 gave Japan the lead for the first time on Friday, but bogeys from both players on the par-4 16th gave Australia the opportunity to tie things back up with two holes to play. It remained that way through the 18th hole, where both teams played steady golf to earn half a point for either side.
“We played good, we just couldn't really get it in the hole quick enough. Yesterday we had so many birdies and were really confident with the putter, but today they weren't seeming to go in,” said Green. “We both played well, and I think if we continue to do that tomorrow, then we'll be fine. But I think to come out with a half point was a really good result today.”
“I play good. She played good. Australia team played really well, as well,” said Saso. “They got the first point, first nine. Shibuno made some very nice birdie putts. We were trying to hang in there.”
No. 1 United States (USA) vs. No. 5 England
Lilia Vu/Nelly Korda (USA) d. Liz Young/Alice Hewson (ENG), 2&1
World No. 1 Nelly Korda and No. 4 Lilia Vu won their second match of the week on Friday at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, defeating England’s Liz Young and Alice Hewson 2 and 1. As the highest-ranked pairing in the field this week, the two were expected to dominate every day, but in match play, nothing ever turns out as expected. The pair struggled to find their rhythm early in the day on Friday and Saturday, but on a stretch of holes from No. 13 to No. 17, they really found their groove. According to Vu, “I think (on those holes) it's time to make a move and then we're just aggressive and it worked out that way.”
Hewson and Young set the pace right off the bat on Saturday, going 2 up after the first two holes. A birdie from Korda got the Americans back to 1 down, but Young and Newson held that 1-up lead for two more holes before conceding a birdie to Vu on No. 6, tying the match. The match remained tied until 12, where Korda made a birdie to give the U.S. a 1-up lead, and then made another on 13 alongside Vu to extend the lead to 2 up. Korda then made her third consecutive birdie on the par-4 14th, putting the United States Team 3 up with four to play. The Englishwomen earned one back with pars on 15 to Vu’s and Korda’s bogeys, but the match was decided when the teams tied the next two holes, concluding on No. 17, the same place that Vu and Korda finished yesterday.
“We were 2 down through 2, and honestly, we were just kind of attacking pins. It was kind of cold out there, and then we finally got it back to even,” Korda said. “On the back nine we kind of turned it up where we won three in a row, and then after then we lost one, but Lilia made a nice putt on 17 to secure or win. Overall, I think it was a lot of teamwork out there, and it wasn't easy because we were 2-down through 2.”
Danielle Kang/Lexi Thompson (USA) d. Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG), 3&2
Americans Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson redeemed themselves on Friday at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, taking down England’s Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart Shadoff in a resounding 3 and 2 victory to earn a critical point for the United States Team. The match was tied through four holes when Kang made a birdie on No. 5, putting the U.S. 1 up. They remained 1 up for the next six holes, but Thompson extended the lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, moving the Americans to 2 up over England. Law and Ewart Shadoff weren’t able to win any of the next three holes, and when Thompson stuffed her approach shot on the 16th hole and drained her birdie putt, it spelled the end for the Brits, who fell 3 and 2 to the United States Team.
“I had about, I guess, 10, 12 feet and it was breaking quite a bit, so I played it about two and a half cups out, a little bit uphill, so I knew I could be a little aggressive with it. But I was just trying to give myself a birdie opportunity going into that pin,” said Thompson of her strategy on 16. “I thought that (Nelly Korda and Lilia Vu had won in front of us, and I was just waiting when I was reading my putt. It was definitely a good feeling to have before putting. But I still just was focusing on my read. I knew (Danielle) had par in, so I could go for the birdie.”
Kang said her focus for the day was trying to make as many pars as possible so her teammate could go out and do her thing. “I know that just having a par in is freeing (Lexi) up just to be able to go attack pins and things like that will help her out,” said the California native. “I think my short game has gotten a lot of trust by her now, so like she doesn't even care if I miss greens, she just goes right at the pins. I've noticed that. It's been really good ham and egging today, and it's been a good day.”
No. 2 Republic of Korea vs. No. 6 Thailand
Patty Tavatanakit /Atthaya Thitikul (THA) d. Jin Young Ko/Hyo Joo Kim (KOR), 1 up
Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya Thitikul played their part in keeping Thailand undefeated through the first two days of four-ball at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, defeating Jin Young Ko and Hyo Joo Kim 3&2 at TPC Harding Park. Birdies from both Tavatanakit and Thitikul on No. 3 gave the duo their first lead of the day, but Ko’s birdie on the par-5 5th brought the match back to a tie. Once Tavanakit notched another birdie on No. 8, Thailand never took their foot off the gas, getting to 2 up at No. 14 with Thitikul sealing the deal with a statement birdie on No. 16 to assist in clinching a spot in the semifinals for Thailand.
“I love this course. I feel like it is a really tight course, but it doesn't seem tight for me just because I really love this course and I feel like I can really get it going with a lot of confidence,” said Tavatanakit. “That really helped with my flow, too. That's why I really hit it well.”
Ariya Jutanugarn/Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) d. Hye Jin Choi/In Gee Chun (KOR), 2&1
The sisters were at it again at TPC Harding Park. Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn added another win to their Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown record, putting on another dominating performance against the team of Hye Jin Choi and In Gee Chun of the Republic of Korea. Chun and Choi never took the lead on Friday, as Moriya and Ariya started the day with birdies on No. 1 to kick up the momentum. Though Chun birdied the next for Korea to tie it up, the Jutangarns took the lead on No. 5, with Moriya taking advantage of the par-5 opportunity at hand. Thailand held strong, leading 3 up heading to the 16th tee. Chun made a birdie to extend the match to the 17th, but pars all around for Korea and Thailand on the par-3 17th meant game over for the Chun and Choi, and the defending champion team, after day two
“Today I felt much better with my putting. Everything started to get better. But I missed a lot of tee shots, also, so my sister been helping me a lot,” said Ariya Jutanugarn.