International Crown: Team Korea draws energy from partisan gallery

As the International Crown goes to the 2nd round, look for Thai and English challenges to the Korean juggernaut

The International Crown first round four-ball matches left no doubt about the power of Team Korea. Or did it? With eight teams competing, there are many variable’s in play at the LPGA‘s biennial match play extravaganza!

Playing in front of an energized, dancing, banner-waving partisan crowd, the Team Korea juggernaut won both their matches against 8th seed Chinese Taipei and goes into the second four-ball round at 4-0-0 on the top of the leaderboard.

I know a win is a win, but those battles between the top seed and the 8th were much closer that I would have expected, given the enormous distance between the two teams. Candie Kung and Phoebe Yao matched Team Korea’s Sung Hyun Park and In-Kung Kim with five birdies. And while Teresa Lu and Wei-Ling Hsu couldn’t quite keep pace with So Yeon Ryu and In Gee Chun, they still managed to take their match to the 18th as well. The competition is not as imbalanced at it initially seemed.

So, a win is a win and Team Korea takes the early lead in the International Crown, but Team Chinese Taipei has shown that the Koreans are going to have to fight for every point they put on the board.

Team Korea takes on Team Australia in the second round of four-ball matches while Team England will continue to hone their battle skills and prepare for a showdown against the Koreans on Saturday.

Keep an eye on Bronte Law and Jodi Ewart Shadoff as Team England goes into the second round. They scored a decisive victory over Australia’s Katherine Kirk and Su Oh – neither of whom are pushovers. Law and Ewart Shadoff are both playing superb golf and both are hungry for a spot on the European Gleneagles squad!

In first round play among the Pool B teams, Team Thailand put three points on the board with a win and a halve against Team Japan. That puts the Thais and the Englishwomen into an overall tie for second place.

I’m going to be watching Nordqvist and Hedwall very closely during the second round. They’re both playing with a hot hand and if Lindberg and Sagstrom can get their putters warmed up in their matches against Thailand we could see some fluidity on the leaderboard.

As we all hoped, Cristie Kerr pumped some life into Lexi Thompson.

And even though Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda lost their match against Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall, we can set aside that fretting about Wie’s game.  She covered Korda’s mistakes and put enough birdies on the board to convince me that she’s more than ready to play competitive golf.

So, going into the second round, Team Korea must now defend their lead while the Thai and English powerhouses threaten. It’s match lay, that most unpredictable of all golf formats, and the advantage will go to the teams who are best able to put individual ego aside and launch coordinated attacks.

Next: International Crown sleeper teams

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Remember, today is tomorrow when the Tour plays in Asia, so you can follow second round action on Golf Channel Thursday, October 4 at 9pm ET.