Koreans oust top-seeded Americans from LPGA Crown
Park In-Bee and Ryu So-Yeon each birdied a sudden-death playoff hole to lift South Korea over the United States at the LPGA International Crown, eliminating the top-seeded Americans from the match-play event.
Spain and Sweden swept Saturday's final four-ball matches 4-0 to advance into Sunday's singles matches, eliminating Taiwan and Australia, while Japan split with South Korea and Thailand split with the US women 2-2 to book berths in the decisive session.
That left the second-seeded Koreans and the hosts to fight for one last spot with Park and Ryu playing Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson on the par-5 16th with the second player's score used as a tie-breaker.
Park dropped her third shot seven feet from the cup, Thompson left herself 12 feet for birdie, Kerr rolled a putt to four feet and Ryu chipped two feet from the hole.
Thompson missed her birdie putt and par was conceded, but Park curled in her birdie putt. Kerr matched her birdie but Ryu tapped in for the win.
"It was the most nervous moment I've ever hard in my life," both Park and Ryu said, Park adding, "I haven't putted well this year. I think this putt is really going to help me."
The Americans lamented two first-day losses to Taiwan, the Asian side's only wins of the week.
"The first day kind of took us out of this," American Paula Creamer said. "We can't say that one shot was it. We win or lose together."
Japan leads with eight points overall while Thailand, Sweden and Spain on seven and the Koreans on six in the $1.6 million showdown at Caves Valley.
"It's going to be a big day tomorrow," Japan's Ai Miyazato said. "It wasn't expected we could take eight points. We are having a super great experience."
The Americans could not afford a loss in the last four-ball matches if they were to avoid the playoff and Kerr and Thompson never trailed in beating Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn 3 and 2.
But Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum and Onnarin Sattayabanphot never trailed in beating Paula Creamer and top-ranked Stacy Lewis 1-up.
"A big win," Sattayabanphot said. "We have a good chance. We don't do a lot of trash talking but we'd like to take the crown home."
- Yokomine stars for Japan -
Japan lost for the first time but kept the overall lead thanks to a late rally in their other match.
Park sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the eighth and Ryu birdied to win the ninth and 11th for a 4-up lead on the way to beating Mika Miyazato and Mamiko Higa 4 and 3, but Ai Miyazato and Sakura Yokomine fought back to down Choi Na-Yeon and I.K. Kim 3 and 2.
Yokomine eagled from the fairway at the par-4 10th to square the match, birdied 11 to lead for the first time, then rolled in a 50-foot eagle chip at the par-5 12th for a 2-up edge. Miyazato chipped in for birdie to win 14 and two pars sealed victory.
"It was a huge two points," Ai Miyazato said. "Sakura made so many great shots."
Spain eliminated Taiwan as Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz won 6 and 5 over Tseng Yani and Phoebe Yao.
Belen Mozo chipped in for eagle at the par-5 16th and sank the winning 15-foot birdie putt at 18 to give her and Beatriz Recari a 1-up victory over Candie Kung and Teresa Lu.
Sweden routed the Aussies. Pernilla Lindberg and Mikaela Parmlid won the first three holes and last three holes in beating Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright 7 and 5 while Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist downed Karrie Webb and Minjee Lee 4 and 3.
"It has been a long time since I enjoyed myself this much on a golf course," Nordqvist said.