At long last, it is time for the inaugural International Crown.
A total of 32 players from eight countries will square off in a unique match play battle over the course of four days at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., to determine world supremacy among the LPGA Tour’s top countries. An epically global Tour, the LPGA has long been a showcase for the best and brightest players from around the world, and that will be clearly represented this week.
The countries will match up in pool play Thursday through Saturday. The top two countries with the most points in each pool will automatically advance to Sunday’s singles matches. The country with the third most points in each pool will compete in a wildcard playoff on Saturday night to determine the fifth and final country to advance to Sunday. Each country will play one singles match against every other country on Sunday and the country with the most total points at the end of the final day will be crowned the champion.
The United States’ squad of world is the top seed, edging the Republic of Korea at the last minute in dramatic fashion. Japan is the No. 3 seed, while Thailand is fourth, Spain fifth and Sweden sixth. Australia and Chinese Taipei round out the competition.
Some of the world’s most talented players, including world No. 1 Stacy Lewis, former world No. 1s Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi, Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato, Yani Tseng and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, will tee it up this weekend in Maryland.
“Going into next week is exciting,” Lewis said last week in Ohio. “We’ve already been talking about it and figuring out pairings and things. It’s fun whenever you get those opportunities, especially when we are playing good golf. It’s a good golf course at Caves Valley.”
Throw in star players Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Beatriz Recari and So Yeon Ryu, and the event’s amount of star power is magnified. Each player will be playing with adrenaline, nerves and a deep sense of national pride.
“I’m so excited to play next week,” Thompson, who won the season’s first major, said last week. “Any time I can represent my country, wake up and put red, white, and blue on, it’s the highest honor I can have. I’m really looking forward to being part of a team event, and hopefully we can win and redeem ourselves.”
On Thursday, the U.S. will play Chinese Taipei, Thailand will take on Spain, Republic of Korea and Australia square off and Japan plays against Sweden. Each competition will consist of two four-ball matches, and the matchups shift on Friday and Saturday.
Pool A consists of the U.S., Thailand, Spain and Chinese Taipei, and Republic of Korea, Japan, Sweden and Australia make up Pool B. Caves Valley is a par-71, 6,628-yard track, and Golf Channel will broadcast the event all four days.
Perhaps one of the most compelling aspect of the International Crown is the fact that a team match play event of this type and format has never been contested in professional golf. The golf world will be watching eagerly to see how the drama unfolds.