The LPGA Tour is back in San Francisco.
The United States, led by top-ranked Nelly Korda (pictured), is favored in the fourth Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown this week at legendary TPC Harding Park along picturesque Lake Merced, as the tournament finally gets back on the schedule.
Spain won this biennial event when it was first played in 2014 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., with the U.S. prevailing in 2016 at Merit Club in Libertyville, Ill., and South Korea finishing first in 2018 at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, South Korea.
However, the scheduled event in 2020 at Centurion Club in Hemet Hempstead, England, was canceled because of Covid-19 restrictions and the LPGA Tour finally will play the event again.
“At the LPGA, we celebrate great players from all over the world on a weekly basis, but this is the first time we’ll pit country versus country for global bragging rights,” then-LPGA Tour Commissioner said when announcing the creation of the event in 2013. “The International Crown will take women’s golf to the next level and allow fans to rally behind their homelands. In sports, there is simply nothing greater than wearing your nation’s flag, fans singing your national anthem, and bringing ‘the crown’ home.”
In addition to Korda, representing the United States team this week are fourth-ranked Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley and UCLA, seventh-ranked Lexi Thompson and 14th-ranked Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks and Pepperdine.
You never know because match play can be so unpredictable, but South Korea obviously appears to the biggest challenge for the U.S., with third-ranked Jin Young Ko and ninth-ranked Hoo-Joo Kim on the roster.
Team England has been weakened by the withdrawals of 10-ranked Georgia Hall and No. 17 Charley Hull, who pulled out last weekend, which didn’t set well with abandoned teammate Bronte Law.
“So quite late,” said Law, who played at UCLA. “ … We didn’t get any sort of message from the two that decided to not play. I was disappointed about that. But it’s beside the point now.”
The No. 1-seeded Americans are in Group A along with No. 4 Sweden, No. 5 England and No. 8 China in the eight-team event. The U.S. takes on China in its first match on Thursday.
“I’m super excited for the return of the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown,” said Korda, who won the Women’s Golf Gold Medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. “Hopefully, I can represent Team USA well.
“It’s a such a cool and unique event. It’s a big honor to represent your country alongside the other girls who have made it.”
In Group B are No. 2-seeded South Korea along with No. 3 Japan, No. 6 Thailand and No. 7. Australia.
Other first-round matches include Sweden vs. England in Group A, and South Korea vs. Australia and Japan vs. Thailand in Group B.
Each team will play the other three within their group over three days of fourball, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinals on Sunday morning.
In the semifinals, the top team in Group A will play the No. 2 team from Group B, and the top team in Group B will face the No. 2 team in Group A, with each meeting consisting of two singles matches and one foursomes (alternate shot) match.
The two winners in the morning will play for the title in the afternoon under the same format in the Finals, with the two losers playing in a Consolation Match.
The eight teams and 32 players qualified based on aggregate Rolex World Golf Ranking points earned through April 3.
For complete pairings and later the results, visit: https://www.lpga.com/tournaments/international-crown/leaderboard