USA claim last spot in International Crown semifinals | golf

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lexi Thompson made two consecutive birdies on the back nine on Saturday and the United States secured last place in the semifinals of the LPGA’s International Crown Team Matchplay event.

USA secured their semi-final spot late in the round as China lost their second game to England, but still clinched a half point as Thompson and Danielle Kang rallied to tie Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom and Maja Stark.

Sweden won Pool A when Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall defeated Nelly Korda and Lilia Vu 1 and will face Pool B runners-up Australia in Sunday’s semifinals.

In the other semi-final, the USA meets Thailand. Thailand was the only country to win all six four-ball games in pool play.

“Another day to represent our country,” Korda said. “That’s all we could hope for and hopefully we can get a W and make it to the afternoon round for the championship.”

The International Crown is a match-play tournament involving teams of four players from eight countries. Teams will be split into two pools from four countries, with the top two finishers in each group advancing to the semi-finals after three days of round-robin play of four-ball competition. Teams receive one point for each win and half a point for a tied game.

The final day of pool play was little dramatic as Australia and Thailand in Pool B already advanced to the knockout rounds and Sweden won both games in Pool A to progress.

The US team needed just half a point or China were denied by England to secure fourth place in the semifinals, and got it when Alice Hewson with a birdie on 18 won her match with Liz Young 1 against Yu Liu and Ruixin Liu .

The Americans had a rough time with Sweden, although Vu delivered the shot of the day when she potted for Eagle on the sixth hole from the fairway, resulting in a high-five with her caddy.

“It was only 170 and we settled on 6-iron and I just wanted to hit it and then drain-O,” Vu said.

The USA led most of that game before Nordqvist birdied on the 15th and 17th holes to give Sweden the win.

“Obviously a great finish because I felt like it was pretty tight all day,” said Nordqvist. “They knew it had to be a really strong game and I think we’re just proud of ourselves. We finished really strong yesterday to get some momentum and we came out pretty strong this morning. I think we are all very excited to try tomorrow.”

Thompson and Kang rallied back from two shots and took the lead by winning three holes in a row starting at No. 14. Thompson made birdie putts on 15 and 16, but Sweden earned the half point when Stark on the last hole made a birdie.

“I saw Lexi throw some incredible punches,” Kang said. “I was fan-girling when I came in. I said, ‘Oh my God.’ She just kept glancing at me sideways because she knows it’s the sexiest shot ever. It was good.”

Thailand and Australia competed to determine who would win Pool B. Thailand had earned four points in the first two days and Australia got 3 1/2.

Thailand won both games, with sisters Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn beating Hannah Green and Sarah Kemp by 3 and 2, and Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya Thitikul beating Stephanie Kyriacou and Minjee Lee by 1.

Defending champions South Korea lost all four of their games in the first two days before saving the weekend with two wins against Japan.

The semi-finals and finals will both be played on Sunday, with each game featuring two singles competitions and an alternate shot matchup.

This is the fourth time this tournament has been held after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain won the inaugural tournament in 2014, followed by the United States in 2016 and South Korea in 2018.

This is the first professional women’s event to be hosted at TPC Harding Park, which has hosted several major men’s events including the 2009 Presidents Cup and the 2020 PGA Championship.

AP Golf: and

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