No. 6 Thailand vs. No. 7 Australia (AUS)
Patty Tavatanakit /Atthaya Thitikul (THA) d. Minjee Lee/Stephanie Kyriacou (AUS), 1 UP
Though both of their respective teams had already earned a spot in the Sunday semifinals, Patty Tavatanakit, Atthaya Thitikul, Stephanie Kyriacou and Minjee Lee still fought to the finish on Saturday as the Thais continued their undefeated streak, beating the Aussies, 1 up. After tying the first two holes, the Australia Team threw the first punch, going 1 up after Kyriacou eagled the par-5 third hole, but Thailand quickly tied things back up with a Tavatanakit birdie on No. 5. The UCLA alum again made birdie on hole 7, putting the Thailand team 1 up, and the lead was extended when Tavatanakit made another birdie on No. 11.
Thitikul and Tavatanakit both grabbed birdies on the par-4 12th, moving Thailand to 3 up over Australia, but the Aussies won the next two holes to get back to 1 down with three to play. Ultimately, Kyriacou and Lee were unable to gain any ground on the final three holes, and it was an early-walk birdie putt from Tavatanakit on the par-5 18th that sealed Australia’s fate, handing them their second loss of Saturday.
“I think it woke me up a little bit when they started making putts. Steph was really clutch coming down the end. You've got to give that to her. But we did what we had to do, and we ended up finishing, winning,” said Tavatanakit. “We all know how to play golf. It's match play; at the end of the day anything can happen. We're just going to give it our best and hopefully we bring home the trophy.”
Moriya Jutanugarn/Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) d. Hannah Green/Sarah Kemp (AUS), 3&2
The Jutanugarn sisters continued their tear on Saturday at TPC Harding Park, defeating Australians Hannah Green and Sarah Kemp 3 and 2 and help the Thailand Team become the first team in the history of the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown to win all six of their Four-Ball matches. The Aussies took control early, making birdie on the par-3, 2nd hole to grab an early 1-up lead, holding on to it until the Jutanugarns made birdie on hole 6, tying the match. The Thailand team flipped the match with a birdie on the par-3, 9th hole to go 1 up and put things into cruise control as they made the turn, extending their lead to 3 up with three to play after winning holes 13 and 15 and closing out the match with a par on No. 16, handing Australia a 3 and 2 loss, their first of the week.
“I would say (Ariya) playing really solid, and she made a lot of putts,” the elder Jutanugarn said. “I was there when I have to be there pretty much. I was there at the right time.”
Ariya credited her short game as the reason why she’s played so well in challenging conditions this week. “I would say my putting getting much better late first round,” she said. “After that, I start to make some putts so make me have more confidence.”
No. 2 Republic of Korea vs. No. 3 Japan (JPN)
Hye Jin Choi/In Gee Chun (KOR) d. Nasa Hataoka/Ayaka Furue (JPN), 3&1
While their team was unable to advance to Sunday semifinal matches, Hye-Jin Choi and In Gee Chun dug deep and earned a point for the Republic of Korea Team, defeating Ayaka Furue and Nasa Hataoka, 3 and 1, on Saturday at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown. The team opened with a win, making birdie on No. 1 right out of the gate to go 1 up, but a Furue birdie on the second hole erased that lead. Chun birdied the par-5 third hole to put the Koreans 1 up once again, and they never relinquished the lead, tying the next 10 holes with Japan and grabbing a birdie on the 14th hole to move to 2 up. The Republic of Korea remained 2 up until the par-3 17th, when they made another birdie to close out the match, defeating Furue and Hataoka, 3 and 1.
“I know the group had a tough first and second day, so we really wanted to win today. I think we did more trust each other, and I'm so happy to win today,” said Chun, the only member of the winning 2018 Republic of Korea Team to play this week at TPC Harding Park. “It was great to see all the fans out there. I feel glad to make win in front of them. I want to just say thank you to the spectators who's come out and cheered support team Korea.”
Jin Young Ko/Hyo Joo Kim (KOR) d. Yuka Saso/Hinako Shibuno (JPN), 3&2
Even though the Republic of Korea Team was eliminated from the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown on Friday after earning no points in their first four four-ball matches, Jin Young Ko and Hyo Joo Kim were determined to get points on the board on Saturday, trouncing Japan’s Yuka Saso and Hinako Shibuno 3 and 2. The Koreans went 1 up early with a birdie on the second hole and after tying the next five holes with Japan, they extended their lead to 2 up with a Ko birdie on No. 8. The Koreans moved to 3 up with birdie on the par-3 ninth hole after Ko stuffed her tee shot, and Kim won the next, carding a birdie on the par-4 10th hole with a birdie to extend the lead to 4 up. Saso got a shot back for Japan with a birdie on No. 11, but the teams tied the next five holes, giving the match to Korea.
“I was really comfortable on the front nine and I shot maybe one or two feet some shots, and I made a lot of birdies on the front nine. On the back nine I wasn't feeling comfortable, but Hyo Joo (Kim) carried me on the back nine,” Ko said. “We wanted to finish fast. On No. 16 we had birdie chances, and if I make it, we were done, so I crushed it, and we were done. We were so happy. I know we charged late, but we really wanted to win this game because everybody knows we had a really important game. We really focused on our game, and we're really happy to finish (with a) win.”
No. 5 England vs. No. 8 People’s Republic of China
Ruoning Yin/Xiyu Lin (CHN) d. Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG), 2&1
Needing a late-week push to have a shot at making it to the semi-finals, the People’s Republic of China Team fell just short despite a 2-and-1 victory over Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Bronte Law from Xiyu Lin and Ruoning Yin. China came out swinging on day three of the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, making birdie on the first hole to take an early 1-up lead, but England quickly flipped the match, grabbing birdies on the next three holes to move to 1 up. Lin and Ewart Shadoff traded punches on holes 6, 7 and 8 with Lin making birdie to tie the match, Ewart Shadoff making a birdie to put England 1 up and then Lin notching another birdie to erase the lead. The Republic of China finally flipped the match on No. 11 and the teams tied the next three holes, leaving China with a 1 up lead and four holes to play. They managed to find a birdie on the par-5, 16th and fended off Law and Ewart Shadoff on No. 17 to win the match 2 and 1.
“Even though England haven't win the match like previous day, but I still see them as a very strong competitors. We played with Bronte and Jodi today, they're both Solheim player, they're very experienced so I definitely treated today's match very seriously,” Lin said. “I think what we done the best today is we kind of had a little review last night that we think we had a little weaker opening holes. We were not really making birdies on the par 5s. To us, that's the first little goal to achieve today, and we done it really, really well.”
Alice Hewson/Liz Young (ENG) d. Yu Liu/Ruixin Liu (CHN), 1 up
Until Saturday evening at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, the England Team hadn’t managed to earn a single point in any of their matches, but Alice Hewson and Liz Young refused to be blanked, taking the Republic of China’s Ruixin Liu and Yu Liu to the par-5 18th and winning, 1 up. China was in control early with Yu Liu making a birdie on the second hole to put the team 1 up. England and China tied the next three holes and Young leveled the match with a birdie on No. 6, grabbing another on No. 7 to give England a 1 up lead. That lead held through hole 11, with England extending it to 2 up, carding birdie on No. 12, but a late Yu Liu eagle on 15 and a Republic of China birdie on the par-3 17th tied the match, sending the teams to the 18th tee. Ultimately, it was Hewson who got up-and-down for birdie, hitting an incredible pitch shot from the right rough to approximately 3 feet, giving England their first and only point of the week.
“There was quite a lot going through the head on that one,” Hewson said of the final putt. “It hasn't been my best week out on the greens this week, unfortunately, but it just means so much to be able to get that point on the board for England, and happy the hole helped out and caught it.”
No. 1 United States vs. No. 4 Sweden
Anna Nordqvist/Caroline Hedwall (SWE) d. Lilia Vu/Nelly Korda (USA), 1 up
Sweden earned their fifth point of the 2023 Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown when Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall earned a hard-fought 1-up victory over the American duo of Lilia Vu and Nelly Korda. Hedwall and Nordqvist went 3-0-0 in four-ball competition at TPC Harding Park, and their seventh overall four-ball victory as a team, putting them in a tie with Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr for the most in International Crown history.
Hedwall and Nordqvist held a 1-up lead from holes 2 to 4, but Vu and Korda tied the match when Vu birdied No. 5. The United States then took a 1-up advantage when Vu holed out from the fairway for eagle on No. 6. They carried that lead through 13 holes, with Hedwall and Nordqvist tying the match with a birdie at No. 14. Hedwall drained a birdie on No. 17 to reclaim the 1-up lead, and Nordqvist put her approach at No. 18 to within 3 feet to ice the victory.
“You know it was going to have to be really strong play, and I think (we’re) just proud of ourselves,” said Nordqvist. “We finished really strong yesterday to gain some momentum, and we came out firing pretty strong this morning.”
Lexi Thompson/Danielle Kang (USA) tied Madelene Sagstrom/Maja Stark (SWE)
In the final four-ball match of the 2023 Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, Sweden’s Maja Stark, playing alongside Madelene Sagstrom, drained a birdie putt on No. 18 to tie their match with Americans Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang.
After the Americans and Swedes tied the first seven holes, Stark drew first blood, birdieing the par-3 8th hole to put her team 1 up. They carried that advantage to No. 12, with the victorious birdie coming this time from Sagstrom. Not to be dismissed, the Americans stormed back with victories at holes 14, 15 and 16, with Thompson birdieing 15 and 16 much to the delight of the predominantly American gallery. But Sweden, which won the highest percentage of holes and led after the highest percentage of holes in pool play, won the match with Stark’s clutch birdie putt at No. 18 to seal the half point and an undefeated charge through the first three rounds.
“I kind of liked it because it felt like they got mad, and that's kind of funny,” said Stark of her birdie putt on 18. “I just really wanted to make that putt. Just being able to perform under pressure like that is not something that I've really felt before because it's usually been, everything has just been about myself, but now I do it for my team and for Sweden. It's really nice to be able to come in clutch like that at the end.”
“I watched Lexi hit some unbelievable shots coming in. I was fan-girling coming in. I go, oh, my God,” said Kang of their winning streak. “She just kept side-eyeing me because she knows it's like the sexiest shot ever. It was good. My job was just to make a par and go, be free, Lexi, 6 feet.”