Who’s In? 2014 International Crown Officially Takes Shape

   
Eight Countries Clinch Spot in Next Year’s Inaugural Event

NAPLES, FLORIDA (November 21, 2013) – The field of eight qualifying countries has officially been determined for the International Crown – the first-of-its-kind global team match play competition set for July 24-27, 2014 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md.  Countries were determined based on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.  The top four ranked players from each country combined for a “country score” which sets the field of eight countries for the biennial event that joins the LPGA schedule for the first time in 2014.

The eight qualifying countries were announced on-site Thursday at the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Titleholders at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, So Yeon Ryu (Korea), Cristie Kerr (USA), Ai Miyazato (Japan), Azahara Munoz (Spain), Anna Nordqvist (Sweden) took part in the press conference which sets the table for next year’s exciting new competition.

The eight counties are listed here alphabetically:

  • Australia
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden                                                                                   
  • Thailand
  • United States        
                                   
1) South Korea 20 2) United States  38 3) Japan 113
Inbee Park  1 Stacy Lewis 3 Ai Miyazato 16
So Yeon Ryu 4 Paula Creamer 10 Mika Miyazato 21
Na Yeon Choi  6 Cristie Kerr 12  Miki Saiki 35
I.K. Kim 9 Lexi Thompson 13 Rikako Morita 41
Jiyai Shin 14 Angela Stanford 17 Rikako Morita 44
Amy Yang 15 Lizette Salas 20 Mamiko Higa 47
           
4) Spain 258 5) Sweden 308  6) Thailand 321
Beatriz Recari  18 Caroline Hedwall  23 Ariya Jutanugarn 30
Azahara Munoz 31 Anna Nordqvist 25 Pornanong Phatlum 57
Carlota Ciganda  40 Pernilla Lindberg 116 Moriya Jutanugarn 93
Belen Mozo 169 Mikaela Parmlid 144 Onnarin Sattayabanphot 141
Mireya Prats 277 Karin Sjodin 161 Nontaya Srisawang 178
Maria Hernandez 347 Linda Wessberg 210 Thidapa Suwannapura 194
           
7) Chinese Tapei  337 8) Australia 339    
Yani Tseng 29 Karrie Webb 8    
Teresa Lu 58 Katherine Hull-Kirk 100    
Candie Kung 86 Stacey Keating  109    
Hsuan-Yu Yao 164 Lindsey Wright 122    
Yun-Jye Wei 200 Rebecca Artis 157    
Amy Hung 387 Sarah Jane Smith 181    


Below are the current country positions and current player standings based on the Rolex Rankings released on Monday, November 18th. 

Over the course of the next four months, players who hail from the eight qualifying countries will continue to battle for positioning on their respective teams based on their position in the Rolex World Rankings.  Final country rosters from the pre-qualified countries – and their final team seeding for the event - will be announced on Monday, March 31st at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. 

The International Crown will feature three days of team four-ball matches and Sunday singles.  The eight countries will be divided into two pools and each country will play two four-ball matches versus each of the other three countries in their pool.  The top two point earning teams from each pool and one wild-card team will advance to Sunday singles play based on total earned points in pool play. Each match will be worth two points, with two points for a win and one for a draw. 

All points will be carried over to Sunday’s singles matches where each country will play one singles match versus each of the other four countries.  At the conclusion of play on Sunday, the country with the highest four-day combined point total will be “Crowned” the best golf nation in the world.

 

THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon.  Thank you so much for joining us here today.  It's an exciting week here at the season‑ending CME Group Titleholders, but back in January if you all remember we announced a very exciting new event that's going to take place for the first time in 2014, the International Crown.  It's a first of its kind, a global team match play event, and if you need kind of a little reminder of what this event will be like, we've got a video here, just watch the screens.

THE MODERATOR:  I don't know about everyone else, but watching that video always gets me really excited.  I always dreamed of playing in a team golf event and being able to wear my country's colors.  That certainly looks like a fun week and a fun event that's going to be coming up. 

Before we get started, I want to introduce, we have some very special guests today.  First of all, I guess I should announce, the reason that we're all here today is that the eight countries who are going to be taking part in this inaugural event have been determined.  At the end of this week the Rolex Rankings, this is when they determine which countries have officially qualified, so mathematically we looked at the numbers and there's really not a chance that they can change, so we would like to announce the eight countries that have qualified for the inaugural International Crown are Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States. 

Now, the rankings of this countries and exactly what positions they will be in for the seedings for the first International Crown will not be determined until the Kraft Nabisco of next year.  That is also when the players for each country will be determined.  But today we have players from the top five countries currently in the rankings, so I will bring them up one by one. 

First off, from South Korea, which currently ranks number one in the rankings, we have So Yeon Ryu. 

From the United States, which is ranked second in the rankings, we have Cristie Kerr.

From Japan, which is ranked number three, we have Ai Miyazato.  

From Spain, which is ranked number four, we have Azahara Munoz. 

And from Sweden, which is currently ranked number five, we have Anna Nordqvist.  

In addition to these five amazing ladies that I have here next to me, I also want to introduce another special guest that we have here today.  While the 2014 event will be taking place at beautiful Caves Valley, in 2016 we will be going to wonderful Rich Harvest Farms, which many people are aware of thanks to the 2009 Solheim Cup, but we have Rich Harvest Farms owner Jerry Rich here today.  Jerry, thanks for joining us. 

All right, ladies, this is a pretty exciting event.  Countries are already qualified.  I know all of your spots still have to be secured by your play at the start of next year, but I just want you all to first off give me some initial thoughts. 

We'll start with So Yeon Ryu.  How excited are you for this event next July?

SO YEON RYU:  It always feels really great to represent our country, and normally we play a tournament for me and for us, but this tournament is for our country, so it's really exciting to going to play the tournament and I hope I can make the team. 

CRISTIE KERR:   it's definitely exciting to have different and new format events on the LPGA.  I think that keeps it fresh and the fans get a lot more invested in these kinds of events from time to time, so I think it's going to be great.  It's in the United States and my backyard, so I hope that I can make the team and be able to represent my country.

AI MIYAZATO:  It's all really excited for a new tournament, especially this type of tournament.  Since I turned pro, I never play for my country.  I mean, I usually play for myself, but I always watch Solheim Cup, you know, two years, once in two years, and it always feels makes me I want to play for my country.  So I'm really excited about this tournament and hopefully I can make it. 

AZAHARA MUNOZ:  I think it's going to be great.  I think all of us love representing our country and I guess Europeans and Americans, we're lucky enough that we have Solheim every two years, but Japan, Korea and all those countries don't, so I think it's going to be really cool for all of us to be able to represent our countries.  It's only eight countries and it's such a cool format, so it's going to be a lot of fun and I hope I can be there as well.

ANNA NORDQVIST:  I'm really excited because obviously I get the opportunity to play in Solheim Cups, but team events always seems to bring out a different atmosphere and you seem to get with your teammates, it's such a different atmosphere and I think it brings out the best in a lot of players, so I certainly look forward to the International Crown next year. 

THE MODERATOR:  Everyone was talking about the new format and it's always fun to have new events.  The format for this, it's a four‑day event and it's going to be country versus country.  It's one of those types of new formats where it's really exciting, but it might not be the easiest to understand when you read it on paper.  So I want to welcome Senior VP of Tour Operations, Heather Daly‑Donofrio. 

Heather, can you just kind of give us a nice simplified version of what this format will be like? 

HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  So the first step in the process obviously is today by identifying the eight countries that are going to represent themselves in the inaugural International Crown. 

The second step in the process will be identifying the rankings, the seeding of those countries as well as the four players who will represent their countries.  That will happen on the Monday of the Kraft Nabisco.  So once the eight teams have been seeded, they will be seeded into two pools based on their country's seed.  So for the first three days, each team will play two four‑ball matches against each country within its pool.  Points will accumulate over those three days and points will be awarded two points for a win, one for a half and obviously zero points for a loss.  So at the end of the three days, the two countries with the most points in each pool will advance to Sunday's singles. 

Additionally, there will be one wild card country identified.  How we're going to identify that fifth country, which is the wild card, we'll take the countries who are third in points in each pool, and even those countries tied for third in each pool, and they will have a sudden‑death playoff on Saturday evening to determine which country will be the fifth and final country for Sunday's singles.

The points will carry over to Sunday, and on Sunday each country will play one singles match against every other country on Sunday and points will be awarded the same, two points for a win, one point for a half and zero points for a loss.  So at the end of Sunday, the country with the most points will be crowned the best golf nation in the world. 

I will be here later for questions if that wasn't clear. 

THE MODERATOR:  That was a very nice, simplified version.  Thank you, Heather, appreciate it.  Well, now, ladies, I just wanted to ask you guys some questions just to kind of get things started. 

So Yeon, I know in Korea earlier, a couple months I guess it was ago, last month, they had a press conference to announce this event and you had all the four top players talking about this. 

What was the reaction like in Korea talking to the fans and to the media who are going to get to see Korea be represented on such a big stage? 

SO YEON RYU:  Well, you know, so many Korean players are in the Top 10 in the world and Top 20 in the world, so it's really hard to make the Korean team also.  All the Korean fans and media are really interested about who is going to make the team. 

Also, you know, Europe and America have the Solheim Cup, which is really good to represent their own country, but we don't have any tournament like that.  Well, we used to playing like Korea against Japan tournament but it was like really big one, it not like global thing.  So Korea playing the International Crown, it's going to be a really big thing because is lot of Korean fans interested about the LPGA so they can be more interested in like global team and global country.

Also, you know, we're going to play Olympics in 2016, so it's going to be really great warm up before we play the Olympics and it's going to be really big festival for Korea and all of the world. 

THE MODERATOR:  Cristie, you've taken part in numerous Solheim Cups, but this format has no captains.  How is that going to make this really different than anything you've experienced before?

CRISTIE KERR:  I think it's going to be really cool because there's only four people on a team and so I guess amongst yourselves you have to decide who's going to be the leaders of the team.  I figure you're going to have to fire each other up to play well because obviously to win the International Crown everybody's going to have to play well.  It's going to be an interesting dynamic.  It's a smaller group, obviously you'll know the players you're playing with.  It's also pretty cool to think that we're going to Caves Valley and then we're going to Rich Harvest Farms, so this tournament has really fostered a lot of attention and some great venues already. 

THE MODERATOR:  Ai, you're very familiar with all the other players who would be qualifying for Japan.  What's it going to be like kind of having friends on the team, and how do you kind of look forward to I guess playing with all of them in this format, and how do you figure out when you're sitting in a team room who's going to play who?

AI MIYAZATO:  There's no drama for sure, I guess, because we're all good friends.  I know many players because I've been playing on the Tour almost for 10 years now and there's so many young players coming out on the Tour, seems like I'm the oldest.  It's going to be fun.  It's going to be definitely fun to have friends on a team for sure because it's a teamwork, you know?  Like I said, I've seen so many times watching the Solheim Cup, it's great to see the teamwork because everyone's seeing kind of the same direction.  And when I thinking about it, it just makes me goosebumps, so it's going to be definitely fun. 

Q.  Aza, you're familiar with Caves Valley, you competed there when you were at Arizona State and the National Championships.  What's that golf course like and how's it going to fit for this type of format? 

AZAHARA MUNOZ:  It's a really good golf course, obviously I have really good memories.  Maybe I'm a little biased, but I don't think so.  It's great.  To be honest, I don't quite remember hole by hole, but I mean it's just such a traditional golf course, the greens were really pure, long.  I don't know, I just had the best memories there and it's going to be good that it's going to be match play because you can make more birdies.  I remember it being pretty long so it was tough to make birdies and things like that.  Maybe it's not anymore, but who knows.  I think it's just going to be fun.  All the Spanish girls, we get along really well and I love playing in a team event.  We only have Solheim every two years, so this is going to be pretty up there with Solheim for all of us, so it's going to be really fun.

KELLY THESIER:  Anna, speaking of Solheim, you guys wear the European flag but not necessarily your country's flag except when you guys are celebrating and you're carrying them all around.  What's it going to be like when you're wearing ‑‑ really representing Sweden itself?  Is it going to be a different experience? 

ANNA NORDQVIST:  I'm sure.  I mean, some of the proudest moments I have as a golfer is being able to represent Europe in the Solheim Cup or every time you see your Swedish flag next to your name.  It definitely will be a different feeling feeling like you're playing for Sweden and you obviously want to do very well for them, but it's just such a big honor and I just can't wait.  Good teammates, we all know each other very well and it's going to be fun.

KELLY THESIER:  I would like to open it up to questions from the media.  Please raise your hand and we will pass a microphone to you. 

Q.  Actually a question for Heather.  Heather, how will those Sunday singles work when they're playing against each country?

HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  Well, there will be 10 singles matches total, so there will be one match played against each country.  So USA will play one match against ‑‑ if they're in the finals, one match against ‑‑ one singles match against the other four countries.  Or do you mean how they'll be seeded to play one another? 

Q.  You're not playing 18 holes against each country? 

HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  It's one singles match per country against each other, every other country.  CRISTIE
KERR: 
I don't really understand that.  HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  There are five countries, including ‑‑ so say every ‑‑ every country is represented.  You're team USA, you'll play So Yeon, so you'll play against South Korea.  Your other teammate will play against Japan, your third U.S. teammate will play Spain, and your fourth teammate will play Sweden.  CRISTIE KERR:  Drawn out of a hat?

Q.  How do you do the draw? 

HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  The seeding will be by total points.  So for each country they will be seeded by their total points over the first three days, and we have a predetermined formula which is more complicated than the format as far as if there are ties, so if you have two teams advancing to Sunday with the same number of points, there will be a tiebreaker to determine the seeds.  So the two teams who have the most points heading into Sunday, they will be the final singles match on the field, on the course.

Q.  Just to clarify one thing, let's start with Korea, if you've got four players from Korea, how do you determine which player ‑‑ 

HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  The team will decide that.  The team will decide who goes off where.  So there's going to be a lot of discussion between the players on their team, on the respective country team as to who's playing who in each match all week.  So the players without the captains will have to decide ‑‑ Cristie, you'll have to decide whether you're playing ‑‑ you and Paula are playing So Yeon and IK Kim, for example, each day.  So those will be decisions that will be made by the respective countries who will be paired together and who will play which country.

Q.  They'll have to decide amongst themselves even who's a team? 

HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  Yes.  

CRISTIE KERR:  Oh, boy.  It's going to be interesting. 

HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO:  The other interesting thing that they'll have to decide is for the wild card, those teams that are in the wild card will have to decide which two of their players will represent them in a playoff because it will be four‑ball sudden death playoff with the second ball being the tiebreaker. 

CRISTIE KERR:  I hope you're around the rest of the week and just tell us where to go. 

Q.  Caves Valley.  

CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, I got that. 

Q.  This is for Cristie.  I think you said at Solheim that you feel like golf fans kind of have a hunger for different types of events, it's interesting to them.  Do you think it will take a little while for people to really grasp what this is, because it's really cool but it might be a little bit different for them to sort of figure it out?  

CRISTIE KERR:  No, I don't think so.  As long as, not only for the writers and the players but for the fans, the format and how matches are determined with the teams picking who they're going to play with against who they're going to play against, as long as that's pretty clear and everybody can understand it in a very simple way, I think, you know, it's got to be laid down on paper and presented to everybody in a manner in which we can understand it clearly.  I think if that's presented that way, then everybody will get into it right away because there's nothing worse than not being able to understand what's going on when you have a major competition like this.  So the LPGA is working on that and they'll get that information to everybody.  As long as we can understand it with all the different twists and turns that can happen, I think everybody will get really into it.  You may even see like fantasy golf just for that week, you know, different pools and different things come up, so I think it's going to be really engaging for the fans. 

AZAHARA MUNOZ:  I think once the numbers are matched with names, it will be so much easier because right now when you see on paper country number 1A playing ‑‑ that gets confusing, but once you have the four names, it's going to be really simple I think.  It doesn't matter what sport, you play for your country, everybody gets super engaged.  I think that's why we're all super excited.  Even people at home might not know right now, but as soon as they know Spain is playing, they're going to support you no matter what. 

Q.  Cristie, do you like the idea of there not being a captain, that you all are making these decisions yourselves, and how do you think the Americans will go about doing that because you're all competitive and want to play. 

CRISTIE KERR:  Sure, it is good in that respect that it's only four players because you can have like a little pow wow and figure things out.  I think every team's going to be different.  There are going to be clear leaders who say okay, this is how I think this should work. 

And, for instance, on the American team, we might all get together and decide what's best for our team.  I think that's another interesting, you know, thing to be able to watch unfold and to be able to write about because it's kind of like the decision of who's going to be flipping a coin basically.  There's going to be a lot of different storylines to write about and things for us to figure out and I think it's pretty unique. 

Q.  Assuming you tell us what really goes on when you make your decision. 

CRISTIE KERR:  I think you can get the truth from me, yeah. 

Q.  So Yeon, a South Korean is No. 1 in the world.  For the first time ever a South Korean just wrapped up Rolex Player of the Year.  A South Korean has won three majors this year.  South Korea has really been a dominant force for a while.  How important will it be to show your country that you are the world's best in this event?

SO YEON RYU:  A lot of people think about like Korean women's golf is really strong.  Also the really hard part is Koreans pretty sure about we're going to win this tournament.  I think that makes us really hard because even I was discussed about this issue with Na Yeon and Inbee when we did a press conference in Korea.  But important thing is anyway we playing this tournament for our country so we don't have to think about like other people's expectation level or something, then we just decided to ‑‑ we just chill out and hang out at the tournament. 

KELLY THESIER:  So Yeon, just to kind of follow up, there's been so much success for South Korea.  The players right now, all the four players to qualify are ranked in the Top 10 in the world.  How hard is it to (inaudible)

SO YEON RYU:  I don't know.  Even for me now I'm world ranking 4th, I believe, but so many Korean players is really close to Top 10.  If I make the team, feels really good to represent the country.  I don't know.  It's really hard because this is my second year on the LPGA, but before I came here already a lot of Korean players played so well so I couldn't expect I'm going to play the International Crown, but seems like I'm pretty close, so for me it's really honor to play International Crown. 

Q.  To any of the ladies, if you were allowed to bet on this event and you can't bet on your own country, who would you bet on? 

CRISTIE KERR:  United States. 

Q.  That's your team. 

CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, but why would you bet on somebody else?

AZAHARA MUNOZ:  You cannot bet on yourself.

CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, I know, but I'm saying that's ‑‑ (inaudible). 

Topics: International Crown

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