Here's a look back at the first day of action from the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown with the first round of four-balls
It's still all to play for at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown where teams Sweden, Thailand and Australia took home maximum points on day 1 at TPC Harding Park.
Points after Thursday's four-balls:
|Pool A||Pool B|
|Seed 4 Sweden – 2 points||Seed 6 Thailand – 2 points|
|Seed 1 United States – 1 point||Seed 7 Australia - 2 points|
|Seed 8 China – 1 point||Seed 2 Korea – 0 points|
|Seed 5 England – 0 points||Seed 3 Japan – 0 points|
Japan (JPN) v Thailand (THA)
Patty Tavatanakit/Atthaya Thitikul (THA) d. Yuka Saso/Ayaka Furue (JPN), 1 up
Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya Thitikul staged an epic comeback in their match against Yuka Saso and Ayaka Furue on Thursday at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, earning the first point of the week for the Thailand team.
The teams were tied through the opening five holes, but Japan finally broke through with a birdie on the par-4, 6th to go 1 up over Thailand. Thitikul answered with a birdie of her own on eight, re-tying the match, and the teams matched pars to remain tied with eight holes left to play.
Furue and Saso both recorded birdies on the par-4, 11th to put Japan 1 up once more, but Tavatanakit evened the score with a birdie on the next to tie the match again. The teams tied the next five holes and came to 18 all square, needing to tie or win to earn any points for their respective team. Tavatanakit and Thitikul ultimately both ground out birdies to win the match and give their country one of the two points Thailand earned on Thursday.
“What's going on in my mind, make as many birdies as we can, and then the good thing is we know that we have each other, like she got my back, I got her back, which is good for us,” said Thitikul.
“I think we just kept on pedalling, tried to give ourselves the best chance as possible, so got it done on the last hole, so it was pretty good.”
Ariya Jutanugarn/Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) d. Nasa Hataoka /Hinako Shibuno (JPN), 2 up
Thai sisters Moriya Jutanugarn and Ariya Jutanugarn won their third career Four-Ball match in Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown history on Thursday, taking a 2-up victory over the Japanese duo of Nasa Hataoka and Hinako Shibuno.
The Jutanugarns held at least a 1-up lead for 14 of the match’s 18 holes, going 2 up when Ariya Jutanguarn made a birdie at the par-4 11th hole. Shibuno birdied 13 to cut into the deficit, but Moriya Jutanugarn cemented the 2-up victory with a conceded eagle at 18 after nailing a spectacular approach shot.
“It was two good shots on 18, which is something to carry on for me,” said Moriya Jutanugarn. “It's a good thing to carry on from this match. She had an amazing par save on 17, which saved us a lot. It's just like in match play, one good and another one not good, and then you just have to kind of try to help each other.”
Sweden (SWE) v England (ENG)
Anna Nordqvist/Caroline Hedwall (SWE) d. Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG), 4&3
Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown veterans Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall came out swinging on Thursday at TPC Harding Park, taking down England’s Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart Shadoff in resounding fashion with a 4-and-3 victory.
The Swedes got off to a hot start, winning the first three holes of the match to go 3 up, but England got a shot back with a birdie on the par-5, 5th hole to get back to 2 down. The teams traded punches on holes seven and eight with Hedwall making birdie on the par-4, 7th and Law answering with a birdie of her own on the par-4, 8th to move England back to 2 down. A Nordqvist birdie on nine got the Swedes back to 3 up with nine to play, but Ewart Shadoff’s par on the 10th hole erased the major champion’s effort.
Hedwall and Nordqvist each birdied holes 12 and 14 to put the Sweden team 4 up with four to play, and the match was ultimately decided with a pair of pars on the par-4 15th, giving Sweden a point and their first Four-Ball victory of the week.
“I really enjoyed it. We got off to a great start, birdied the first three to go 3-up,” said Nordqvist, who has partnered with Hedwall six other times in the International Crown.
“I think it was a little bit different playing Jodi and Bronte who's normally Solheim Cup teammates, but I felt like both of us, we complemented each other really well today and she had my back and I had hers. I felt like we hadn't missed a beat.”
Madelene Sagstrom/Maja Stark (SWE) d. Liz Young/Alice Hewson (ENG), 5&4
It was Madelene Sagstrom who took Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown rookie Maja Stark under her wing on day one at TPC Harding Park as the pair of Swedes defeated England’s Liz Young and Alice Hewson 5-and-4, the largest margin of victory on Thursday.
While Stark found her footing early in the match, Sagstrom shot out of the gate, going birdie-eagle on holes 2 and 3 to put the Swedes 2 up through three holes. Hewson got a shot back with a birdie on the par-5, 5th, putting England 1 down. However, a pair of Sagstrom birdies on holes 6 and 8 put Sweden 3 up with 10 to play.
Hewson tried again to get the momentum going with a birdie on the par-3, 9th that got England back to 2 down, but Sagstrom and Stark weren’t having it. Sagstrom birdied hole 10 to go 3 up and Stark finally won her first hole with a birdie on No. 12 to put the Swedes 4 up. The pair both birdied the par-3, 13th, which was more than enough to nail the coffin shut for Team England, giving Sweden their second point of the Thursday Four-Ball matches.
“Maja made birdie on the first and then I played solid on the front nine. I kind of felt like I knew what I was doing today and it was more trying to get her in a good place. It was a really good matchup. We played really well together,” Sagstrom said.
“We've never played team events before because I'm a lot older than her, so it's cool. But I think at the same time my experience also kind of helps me being out there. I talked a little bit about how I felt in previous Solheims and stuff, so it was good. We played super solid all day, so it's really nice to get away with a big win.”
Korea (KOR) v Australia (AUS)
Minjee Lee/Stephanie Kyriacou (AUS) d. Hye Jin Choi/In Gee Chun (KOR), 2 up
It took all 18 holes of TPC Harding Park, but Australians Minjee Lee and Stephanie Kyriacou were victorious on day one of the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown, defeating the Republic of Korea’s In Gee Chun and Hye-Jin Choi 2 up.
International Crown rookie Kyriacou came out strong, making three birdies on the first three holes to put the Australia team 3 up early. Choi made a birdie on the par-4, 6th hole to get the Koreans back to 2 down, but Kyriacou grabbed another birdie on seven to once again go 3 up. Another birdie from Choi on nine was answered with a Lee birdie on the 10th and it looked like the Australia team was firmly in control. But the Republic of Korea team wasn’t about to back down. Finding some fire, they won holes 12, 13 and 14, going birdie-birdie-par to tie the match with four holes to play.
The momentum ended up being short-lived as Lee birdied the par-4, 15th to put the Aussies back 1 up. The teams both parred the next two holes, and after Kyriacou hit a 3-wood to approximately 6ft to set up a short eagle try and the Republic of Korea was unable to get up-and-down for birdie, the eagle was conceded and Australia earned their second point of the day.
“I think I was just kind of aggressive. I find I can play more aggressive like in match play when you have a teammate, so I kind of just rammed some of those putts at the start and they went in, which was good,” said Kyriacou.
“So, I kind of made the birdies the front nine and Minjee came in clutch on the back nine, which was very good.”
Hannah Green/Sarah Kemp (AUS) d. Hyo Joo Kim/Jin Young Ko (KOR), 2&1
Australians Sarah Kemp and Hannah Green are playing in their first Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown this week at TPC Harding Park, but the LPGA Tour veterans showed their match-play mettle on Thursday, beating Jin Young Ko and Hyo Joo Kim from Korea 2 and 1.
Green opened with a birdie to put Australia 1 up, a lead that was quickly erased with a Ko birdie on the par-3, 2nd. Kemp and Green went birdie-birdie on holes three and four respectively to go 2 up and Green grabbed another on seven, putting the Aussies 3 up over the Republic of Korea with 12 holes to play. Ko made the only birdie of the entire group on the 10th hole to get a shot back for the Korean team, and Kim won her first hole of the day on No. 12, putting the Republic of Korea team 1 down with six holes left. Kemp birdied the 14th hole to move the Australians back to 2 up and the teams ultimately tied the next three holes, giving Kemp and Green the 2-and-1 victory.
“I was just saying to Hannah before, I don't want to say – I'm not surprised that this happened,” said Kemp of Australia’s dominance on day one. “We had a great time last night. We've had a great week. We're just all having a good time and it doesn't surprise me that we did what we did today. For my first day of my first International Crown to start like this is pretty awesome.”
Green, who came to San Francisco fresh off a victory at the JM Eagle LA Championship presented by Plastpro, agreed. “It was super fun. Holed a putt on the first hole, and we had so many birdies out there. Obviously, Korea played really well, too, so they made a comeback on the back nine. But Kempy and I both played really solid when we needed to and helped each other out on the holes, so it was a really fun day today.”
United States (USA) v China (CHN)
Lilia Vu/Nelly Korda (USA) d. Ruoning Yin/Xiyu Lin (CHN), 2&1
Americans Lilia Vu and Nelly Korda, both making their Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown debuts, defeated the Republic of China’s Ruoning Yin and Xiyu Lin in their first-day matchup at TPC Harding Park. The United States Team started strong, taking advantage of the par-5, 5th hole as both players notched birdies to take a 1-up lead early. But Yin and Lin responded quickly with birdies on the next hole to square the match once again. At nine, Yin’s birdie put China on top for the first time on Thursday, until the 13th, where a birdie by Vu after “stuffing it” on the par 3 swung the momentum back in the USA’s favour. From there, Vu and Korda went 2 up on 15 and never looked back, earning the U.S. Team’s only point of the day with the victory.
“I think when Lils just stuffed it on that par-3 and made that putt, that was kind of the turning point of the match, and I feel like we were pretty even throughout the entire match,” said Korda. “It was pretty much a grind, but then we kind of ran away with it toward the end.”
Ruixin Liu/Yu Liu (CHN) d. Danielle Kang/Lexi Thompson (USA), 1 up
In ultimately the biggest upset of this year’s Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown so far, the eighth-ranked Republic of China took down the top-seed United States Team as Ruixin Liu and Yu Liu defeated Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson 1 up.
On a day where the U.S. never took the lead, China went 1 up early thanks to a birdie by Yu on three, but the U.S.’s birdie on four tied it back up quickly. The duo of Liu and Liu refused to falter, responding with birdies on holes five and six to get to 2 up. Kang and Thompson fought valiantly, squaring the match by the 11th hole, but it was Yu’s birdie on 12 that helped China get back to 1 up and stay there.
In an attempt to halve the match, Thompson used her length to her advantage on the par-5, 18th, going for the green in two to try to set up an eagle chance, but her second shot landed just short in the right greenside bunker with Thompson splashing it out to just inside a foot.
This was the first time since the 2016 International Crown where partners from the first seed went down to players from the eighth seed, when Simin Feng and Jing Yan defeated So Yeon Ryu and Sei Young Kim from the Republic of Korea on the first day of Four-Ball matches.
“It was very unexpected. I feel like the mindset really helped us because we were the last seeded player on the last seeded team, so honestly just not really having anything to lose,” said Yu Liu. “I think just playing really relaxed and having Rachel, she's such a good driver of the ball, that I always make her hit first and put it on the fairway so I can hit with more ease.”
Watch highlights from Day 1 of the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown
Pool A – Sweden v China
11:35 a.m. – Madelene Sagstrom/Maja Stark (SWE) vs. Ruoning Yin/Xiyu Lin (CHN)
11:50 p.m. – Anna Nordqvist/Caroline Hedwall (SWE) vs. Yu Liu/Ruixin Liu (CHN)
Pool B – Japan v Australia
12:05 a.m. – Nasa Hataoka/Ayaka Furue (JPN) vs. Minjee Lee/Stephanie Kyriacou (AUS)
12:20 p.m. – Hinako Shibuno/Yuka Saso (JPN) vs. Hannah Green/Sarah Kemp (AUS)
Pool A – United States v England
12:35 p.m. – Lilia Vu/Nelly Korda (USA) vs. Liz Young/Alice Hewson (ENG)
12:50 p.m. – Danielle Kang/Lexi Thompson (USA) vs. Bronte Law/Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG)
Pool B – Korea v Thailand
1:05 p.m. – Jin Young Ko/Hyo Joo Kim (KOR) vs. Patty Tavatanakit /Atthaya Thitikul (THA)
1:20 p.m. – Hye Jin Choi/In Gee Chun (KOR) vs. Ariya Jutanugarn/Moriya Jutanugarn (THA)
Japan is the only team that are switching partners for the Friday four-balls, after losing both their matches.
To find out more about the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown - please visit the LPGA website here.