The biennial UL International Crown Championship has moved 6,503 miles from Gurnee, IL to the Songdo International Business District, Incheon, Korea, home of the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, where 32 of the world’s finest female golfers will compete on 8 teams for their country’s pride and the winning team’s share ($100,000 per player) of the $1,600,000 purse.
With an announcement made at UL Corporate Headquarters on July 2 in Northbrook, IL, UL CEO Keith Williams and LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan both emphasized the uniqueness of this tournament’s format. “There are no coaches and no captains on the teams that qualify for the UL International Crown,” Michael Whan stated; he went on to add “furthermore, there are no captain’s picks, the only way to get on the team is to play your way up the Rolex rankings. If you think about it, these teams are as hard to make as the Olympics.”
UL president and CEO Keith Williams commented “Playing the UL International in Korea is going to be one of the most exciting competitions in the world of golf this year…congratulations to all the players; we know it will be a fantastic competition.”
Representing the #1 seed, Team South Korea, are So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park, Sung Hyun Park, and In-Kyung Kim. Team USA features Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, and Michelle Wie. From Team Japan the members are Nasa Hataoka, Ai Suzuki, Misuzu Narita, and, Mamiko Higa. (NOTE: Ai Suzuki has withdrawn from the UL International Crown due to injury. She will be replaced on Team Japan by Ayako Uehara.)
The #4 seed is Team England with members Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and Bronte Law. Team Australia features Katherine Kirk, Minjee Lee, Sarah Jane Smith, and Su Oh.
Members of Team Thailand are Moriya Jutanugarn, Ariya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, and Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong. The 2018 foursome representing Team Sweden are Pernilla Lindberg, Anna Nordqvist, Madelene Sagstrom, and Caroline Hedwall. Rounding out the field of eight teams are the members of Team Chinese Taipei: Candie Kung, Teresa Lu, Wei-Ling Hsu, and Hsuan-Yu Yao.
Home field appears to be a distinct advantage as Team USA was victorious at The Merit Club in 2016, and Team South Korea is a heavy favorite to capture the crown in 2018.
While this “away contest” is mildly important to golf fans back in the USA, the 2018 UL International Crown is the pinnacle of all golf events, both men’s and women’s, for the tens of thousands of avid golf fans in South Korea.
It is a Super-Major tournament; expectations are that the 2018 UL International Crown will draw more fans to the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon than did the 2015 Presidents Cup, which was also played at the same site in Incheon. It will have all of excitement and interest of the Super Bowl, World Series, March Madness, and Stanley Cup playoffs rolled into one.
Live TV coverage by The Golf Channel will help to stir interest back in the USA, despite the fact that the event will be played half-a-world away. The telecast times in the United States are in “prime time”. The Wednesday, Oct. 3, telecast has a start time of 8pm ET, and the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday air times begin at 9pm ET (all times tentative, subject to change).
Further details about the format, scoring, and tie-breakers for the UL International Crown can be found at the International Crown web site.