Thailand Wins International Crown by Beating Australia, as U.S. Finishes Third

Thailand defeated the United States in the semifinals, 2-1, and routed Australia, 3-0, in the finals to capture the fourth Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

The Americans claimed third place by beating Sweden, 2 and 1, in the consolation match.

“I would say, when I was growing up, when I’m turning pro, I always want to inspire the kids back home, and right now I feel even better because of not only me right now,” said Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, who posted a 5-0 record alongside her sister, Moriya, on the four days of the event and was selected Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

In the finals, the Jutanugarn sisters trounced sixth-seeded Minjee Lee and Sarah Kemp of Australia, 4 up, in their foursomes match, while Patty Tavatanakit, who played at UCLA, downed Hannah Green, 4 and 3, and fifth-ranked Atthaya Thitikul beat Stephanie Kyriacou, also by 4 and 3.

Ariya Jutanugarn holed out a chip shot from the edge of the green on the 15th hole to clinch the victory as sixth-seeded Thailand finished the week by winning 11 of 12 matches.

“Us winning this event is huge for golf in Thailand,” the 20-year-old Thitikul said. “(Golf) is already growing, and I think this is going to inspire a lot of people, even more than what we feel inspired 10 years ago. I’m really excited to see the future of Thai golf.”

In the consolation match, Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden upset fourth-ranked Lila Vu of the U.S. with a 5-up trouncing, but Lexi Thompson beat Maja Stark, 3 up, and Nelly Korda teamed with Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks and UCLA to turn back Swedes Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall, 1 up, by holding the lead from the seventh hole to the end.

“Obviously, it’s a little disappointing not being in the final, but I think we played well,” the top-ranked Korda said. “We wish some more putts would have dropped, but overall I think our performance has been pretty good.”

Vu, from Fountain Valley and UCLA, gave the U.S. its only victory in the semifinals by edging Tavatanakit, 1 up, while Thitikul beat Thompson, 3 and 2, and the Jutanugarn sisters won the 17th hole with a birdie to slip past Korda and Kang in their doubles match, 1 up.

In the other semifinal, Sweden routed Australia, 3-0, as Nordqvist defeated Kyriacou, 4 up, Hedwall slipped past Green, 3 and 2, while Sagstrom and Stark overpowered Lee and Kemp, 5 and 3, in their doubles match.

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