United States wins UL International
This week’s event on the LPGA Tour had more of a Solheim Cup feel at the UL International. The match play event featured eight teams (United States, Korea, England, Chinese Taipei, Japan, China, Thailand and Australia) of four. There teams were divided into two pools, participating in three sessions of fourball and one session of singles.
Chinese Taipei got off to fast start, with Yani Tseng and Teresa Lu defeating Karrie Webb and Su Oh of Australia, 3 and 2. The team of Candie Kung and Ssu-Chia Cheng defeated Minjee Lee and Rebecca Artis, 2-up to give Chinese Taipei the lead in Pool A after the first session Korea and China finished with a win and a loss, while Australia was four points back at 0-and-2.
The surprise in Pool B was the play of England, sweeping the United States. Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson fell to Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Holly Clyburn, 2-and-1, while Gerina Piller and Stacy Lewis fell by the same score to Charley Hull and Melissa Reid.
Chinese Taipei continued to lead in Pool A after the second session, as Kung and Chang defeated Amy Yang and In Gee Chun of Korea, 2 and 1. Tsang and Lu fell to So Yeon Ryu and Sei Young Kim, who won the Meijer Classic last month. Chinese Taipei still held a two-point lead over Korea heading into the third session.
In Pool B, the United States got back into the mix with a win from Thomspon/Kerr and tie from Lewis/Piller. Japan helped all teams in the pool by sweeping matches from England. Following session two, England remained on top with five points, followed by Thailand and Japan with four and United States with three.
Korea vaulted into the lead following the third session, as Yang/Chung defeated Lee/Oh and Ryu/Kim overtook Webb/Artis, eliminating Australia from singles in session four. England maintained the lead in Pool B with a huge 7-and-5 from Shadoff/Clyburn over Pornanong Phatlum and Porani Chutichai of Thailand. The United States moved into solid position with two wins. China and Thailand were eliminated in a playoff with Japan, who advanced to session four.
Needing to win big and needing loss or from from Korea and England, the United States team of Piller, Thompson, Kerr and Lewis went to work in the singles matches. Thompson got off to an early lead with a birdie on the first against Ryu of Korea. Ryu birdied five of the next nine holes to take a 3-up lead. Thompson made a run with birdies on 14 and 15 to cute the lead to 1-up, but faltered at the end, losing 2-up. The good news for the United States was that Korea lost two of their other three matches, while England dropped three of four, including Reid’s 4-and-3 loss to Kerr.
Winning the UL International would come down to the matches between Lewis and Mika Miyazato and Piller and Tseng. Wins in both matches would secure the championship. Lewis parred the first to go 1-up and following pars by both players for the next six holes, Miyazato evened the match with a birdie on the eighth. The scored remained 1-up through 12 when Lewis took the three to go 3-up and never looked back, winning 3-up. Piller and Tseng battled through the first 11 holes, with Piller holding a slim 1-up lead. Like Lewis, Piller turned it up a notch, winning holes 12 through 14 to go 4-up. Following a halve at hole 15, Piller defeated Tseng. The United States finished with 13 points and a one point victory over Korea and two points over England.
The event was a good tune-up for next week’s Women’s British Open at Milton Keynes, England. Inbee Park is the defending champion.