Photograph courtesy of LPGA
The star-studded team from the Republic of Korea took home their first UL International Crown trophy this afternoon after a nail-biting finish in front of the huge partisan crowd at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course in Incheon, Seoul.
The number one seeds looked like they were a certainty to take the title after heading into the final round singles competition with a 2-point lead of the USA, a 3-point lead over England, a 4-point lead over Sweden and a 5-point lead over Thailand. However, with pressure coming from the USA and England the gallery who attended on the final day were kept fairly quiet for a large part of the afternoon, and when things got tight on the back nine you could have heard a pin drop at times.
World number 1 Sung Hyun Park had held the lead for most of the day against world number 2 Ariya Jutanagarn and could not match the Thai star over the final holes as she stormed home to win the match 2&1. Former US Women's Open Champion In Gee Chun had lead Swede Anna Nordqvist 4-up with just 8 holes to go only to see the match head down the 18th hole.
When Chun missed her birdie putt from 5 metres the feisty Swede had a putt to halve the match which would have really put the pressure on IK KIM and So Yeon Ryu playing in the 3rd to last and final match respectively.
Nordqvist missed her birdie putt to lose the match 1-up, and when IK Kim 2-putted from 12 metres on the 17th hole to ensure at least a half against England's Bronte Law the Crown was in Korean hands for the firts time. Ryu's match, in the end, had no bearing on the final result and she went on to halve her match against American star Lexi Thompson.
After the match the Korean players spoke of the pressure they had felt in the lead-up to the tournament with the enormous expectations on them and their relief at winning the UL International Crown for the first time.
Unofficial team leader Ryu said, "We never really get that nervous in majors but we have been worried about this for a few months as we knew the pressure that would be on us to win this week."
In Gee Chun thanked her team-mates for helping her handle the pressure, "I have been so nervous this week and they have all helped me so much"
More than 75,000 spectators attended the tournament this week and this figure no doubt would have been closer to 100,000 had yesterday not been washed out due to the back end of Typhoon Kong-Rey hitting the Southern Korean peninsula.
The Australian Team of Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk, Su Oh and Sarah Jane Smith were left to rue missed opportunities against the English team on day one as they were eliminated from the event in a sudden-death playoff after defeating the team from Chinese Taipei 4-0 in a match which had started on Friday afternoon.
Minjee Lee and Sarah Jane Smith defeated Candie Kung and Teresa Lu 2up, while Katherine Kirk and Su Oh produced their second consecutive win defeating Phoebe Yao and Hsu Weh Ling
Even though team Australia had finished in a tie for 2nd place with England in Pool A on 7 points, they were relegated to third place on account of their round one loss to England.
The format of the competition is that the leading 2 teams from each pool advance to the final, and the 3rd place teams from each pool and any team tied for third place must playoff for the 5th and final spot in the final singles session.
In Pool B USA and Sweden made it through with 8 and 6 points respectively, with Thailand and Japan tied on 5 points meaning that there would be a 3-way playoff to decide which team went through to the final.
The playoff was played on the short par 4 14th hole, and it was Lee and Oh who were nominated to compete in the playoff for Team Australia.
Both Australians hit 3-woods from the tee, Lee's ball finishing just left of the green and Oh's just short of the green, with both players left with fairly simple pitch shots left for their second shots.
The Thai team were represented by the Jutanagarn sisters, Ariya and Moriya, and Moriya hitting first hit a superb driver onto the putting surface while her more powerful sister hit her driving iron just off the left of the green in a similar position to where Lee's ball finished.
Both of the Japanese players found trouble off the tee and were effectively out of the playoff.
Australia looked in great shape when Lee played a superb pitch to within a metre of the hole, however it was Ariya who ruined the Australian party chipping in for an eagle 2. Su Oh had one last chance to keep her team alive in the tournament however her chip shot ran by the edge of the hole, and just like that in the blink of an eye Team Australia was out of the tournament.
The Australians were clearly devastated to be out of the competition after playing some brilliant golf against Korea and Chinese Taipei the past two rounds, and had to settle for 6th place even though at the point they were eliminated they were three points off the lead and just one point behind the second place team.
Republic of Korea - 15 Points
England - 11 Points
USA - 11 Points
Thailand - 10 Points
Sweden - 9 Points
Australia - 7 Points
Japan - 5 Points
Chinese Taipei - 0 Points
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