Ariya Jutanugarn buried a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to give Thailand control of the last match on the course at the Hanwha Lifeplus International Crown. It proved a dagger to Team USA.
Sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn took down World No. 1 Nelly Korda and Danielle Kang, 1 up, thanks to birdies over the last two holes. It was the second point Thailand needed to advance to Sunday afternoon’s final match against Australia at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Neither of the finalists have ever won the Crown, now in its fourth edition.
The U.S. will take on Sweden in the consolation match Sunday.
Ariya Jutanugarn gives a Thailand a 1UP lead heading to the 18th tee
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Former No. 1 Atthaya Thitikul defeated Lexi Thompson, 3 and 2, in singles play. Lilia Vu posted the only point for Team USA, defeating fellow UCLA Bruin and Chevron champion Patty Tavatanakit, 1 up. It marked the only match Thailand has lost the entire week.
The format for the semifinals and finals consists of two singles matches and one foursomes match. With no team captains, the players determine the lineups.
Anna Nordqvist, a three-time major champion and Solheim Cup stalwart, played impeccable golf at the Crown on Saturday but then fell to Stephanie Kyriacou, No. 118 in the world, in semifinal singles, 4 and 3. Match play never fails to deliver a few shockers.
“I think I play my best when I’m aggressive,” said Kyriacou, “and in match play you only need to beat one person so there’s not as much pressure. But yeah, I played pretty aggressive all day. All week actually.”
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Veteran Sarah Kemp wasn’t at all surprised to see her Aussie team sweep Sweden.
“Not in a cocky way,” said Kemp, “just because of the way we are around each other and the team that we’ve built from the beginning. We’ve had lunch together, we’ve had breakfast together every day, we’ve had dinner together, we do everything together, and we’ve just come together really well, and it’s paying off as you can see on the course.”
Hannah Green, who won on the LPGA exactly one week ago, defeated Caroline Hedwall, 3 and 2, in singles play. Kemp and Minjee Lee took down Madelene Sagstrom and Maja Stark in foursomes play.
“I think we should be proud of ourselves,” said Nordqvist. “We still have a match for third. Obviously, it was a little bit of a rougher morning than we hoped for, but Australia played great, and there’s not much you can do then.”
Sagstrom, looking ahead to this year’s Solheim Cup in Spain, felt it was a meaningful week for young Stark.
“We all knew her game was good,” said Sagstrom. “This is kind of her first entree to professional team events, so it was nice to have her under my wing and try to help out with whatever experience that I have. She played awesome.”