07/27 17:26 CDT Spain sweeps to victory in International Crown
Spain sweeps to victory in International Crown
AP Sports Writer
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) --- Their bond goes far beyond their designation as
teammates, and as a whole they are far more than merely a quartet of players
thrown together to represent Spain.
The foursome that won the inaugural International Crown on Sunday have been
friends on and off the golf course for years, which goes a long way toward
explaining why Spain played so well as the fifth seed against many of the
finest women golfers in the world.
Carlota Ciganda breezed to an early victory to set the tone, and Spain won all
four of its singles matches in the final round to win the coveted trophy.
"Even though we were maybe the underdogs because of the seedings, I knew deep
inside that what you need in a team championship is what we have," said Belen
Mozo, who clinched the title with a 3-and-2 win over Moriya Jutanugarn of
Thailand. "We have always played together, we have always won together. Coming
in, we knew we had that advantage over the other teams."
Sweden finished second in the tournament that began Thursday with 32 players
from eight countries. The top-seeded United States was among three teams
eliminated Saturday, leaving five countries and 20 players to compete for the
Spain began the final round tied for second behind Japan, but Ciganda
immediately gave the Spaniards a boost by beating Na Yeon Choi of South Korea 8
and 6. Beatriz Recari followed with a 3-and-2 victory over Mikaela Parmlid of
Sweden, and Mozo's clinching victory set off an impromptu celebration on the
16th hole that began with a jubilant Recari jumping into Mozo's arms.
Azahara Munoz completed the sweep by beating Ai Miyazato of Japan 2 and 1.
Munoz and Ciganda played at this same Caves Valley course in helping Arizona
State win the 2009 NCAA women's championship. Munoz, Ciganda and Recari
participated on the last two Solheim Cup champions for Europe.
"We're so good as a team because we're used to, since we were younger, playing
together," Munoz said. "I always played with Belen and Carlota. They were
always my foursome partners. It just is so special to be on a team with them."
Points accumulated through Saturday were added to those amassed Sunday. Using
the scoring system of two points for a win and one for a tie, the final order
was: Spain (15 points), Sweden (11), South Korea (10), Japan (10), Thailand
(9), United States (6), Taiwan (4) and Australia (3).
"We are all superstars, we all did our roles and we are all No. 1," Mozo
Japan entered the final round with a one-point lead but lost three of four
matches, its lone win coming when Mika Miyazato beat Onnarin Sattayabanphot of
Thailand 3 and 1.
"We all like to play under pressure and we know we can do it. It just didn't
happen," Ai Miyazato said. "It wasn't our week, but it was an amazing
Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg topped Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand 6 and 5, taking
the lead for good at No. 1 and winning at 10, 11 and 12 to pull away. But the
Swedes' bid to win the tournament fizzled when Caroline Hedwall lost to South
Korea's Inbee Park, 4 and 2.
Although Sweden didn't come home with the trophy, at least one team member left
with a fond memory.
"I've gotten to show myself on the biggest stage that I've been on so far and
it feels like I've really take advantage of that," said Lindberg, 28, who was
playing in her first match-play event. "It's been so much fun, just over
expectations for everyone."
Park, meanwhile, rode the momentum generated by Saturday's wild-card playoff
win over the U.S. to breeze past Hedwall. That left South Korea with at least
an outside shot of capturing the event.
"It was important to win the first match. It kind of gives everyone hope and
some energy to play well," Park said.
That's how it worked for Spain. Alas, South Korea could not sustain the
Not long after Park won, Choi walked off the course after 12 holes in her
mismatch against Ciganda, and South Korea's chances grew even dimmer when I.K.
Kim lost to Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand 1 up.
So Yeon Ryu's 1-up win over Sakura Yokomine of Japan left South Korea at 2-2
for the afternoon.