When the International Crown was announced, most people in the golf world tabbed Team Korea as the team to beat in the inaugural event.
That still may be true even though the United States wrestled the No. 1 seed away from the Koreans down the stretch, especially considering the quartet of talented players who make up Republic of Korea’s squad. Former world No. 1 Inbee Park and her 11 career LPGA wins leads the way for the second-seeded Koreans, and she has quite the trio of teammates that help her make Team Korea a favorite to win it all July 24-27.
I.K. Kim, So Yeon Ryu and Na Yeon Choi have combined to win 12 tournaments, including two majors, and they have the firepower to make an impact in Owings Mills, Md. Kim, the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open champion, has more than $6 million in career LPGA earnings and is nearing 60 career top-10s.
None of those have come this season, but she did win the LET’s ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters in England last week, so there’s a good chance she’ll be back in elite-player form at Caves Valley Golf Club. Choi won the LPGA money title in 2010, has seven career victories, is nearing $9 million in career earnings and nearly 70 career top-10s.
Choi has two top-10s in 2014, but has seen her world ranking slip a bit this season. That should not keep the 2010 Vare Trophy winner from being a major factor in the four-day event.
Ryu has earned more than $3 million in her career, with a good chunk of that coming from her victory at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open. Eight of her 35 career top-10s have come in 2014, and she has risen into the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s Golf World Rankings as a result.
Team Korea is the only team besides the United States that features four players who have won LPGA events, with the most recent tournament victory being Park’s win at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in early June.
Republic Korea opens play on Thursday against No. 7 Chinese Taipei and follows that with a match against sixth-seeded Sweden on Friday. The Koreans face a tough test on Saturday versus No. 3 Japan, but most expect them to advance to the four-team semifinals.
This is the seventh of eight looks at the teams set to compete in the inaugural International Crown, July 24-27, at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. LPGA.com will continue to roll out these features every Friday leading up to the four-day event, so stay tuned for more in-depth descriptions of each four-member team.
Topics: International Crown