Corporate headquarters of Underwriters Laboratories in Northbrook was the setting, on Monday July 2, for the announcement of the names of the 32 players, four from each of eight countries, who will compete in the 2018 UL International Crown. The announcement was hosted by UL CEO Keith Williams and LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. Along with the player names, the seedings for the country teams were also announced.
With GolfChannel’s Jerry Foltz as emcee for the press conference, there was a joyful mood among the guests, media, UL company managers, and the eight players — one from each qualifying country — as the ‘top brass’ of both the sponsoring corporation and the ladies’ golfing organization hyped the upcoming event. On October 4-7, 2018, after twice staging the UL International Crown here in the continental United States, the event travels some 6,503 miles from Gurnee, IL to the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Songdo International Business District, Incheon, Korea for the biennial championship
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.”
One by one, in seeding order, a player from each of the competing countries walked on stage and read the names of their team’s players. Representing the #1 seed, Team South Korea, So Yeon Ryu named fellow teammates: Inbee Park, Sung Hyun Park, and In-Kyung Kim. Team USA’s Jessica Korda named: Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, and Michelle Wie. From Team Japan, Nasa Hataoka named Ai Suzuki, Misuzu Narita, and, Mamiko Higa. Then England’s Georgia Hall named: Charley Hull, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and Bronte Law. Australia’s team player, Katherine Kirk named: Minjee Lee, Sarah Jane Smith, and Su Oh. Team Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn named: Ariya Jutanugarn, Pornanong Phatlum, and Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong. Team Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg named: Anna Nordqvist, Madelene Sagstrom, and Caroline Hedwall. For the number eight seed, Chinese Taipei’s Candie Kung named: Teresa Lu, Wei-Ling Hsu, and Hsuan-Yu Yao.
The format for the 2018 tournament selection format remained the same as in the previous two events in 2014 and 2016. Similarly, the competition format will remain the same as in the previous two competitions. The eight countries have been divided into two pools, each pool containing teams from four different countries. Pool “A” contains #1Republic of Korea, #4 England, #5 Australia, and #8 Chinese Taipei. Pool “B” contains #2 United States, #3 Japan, #6 Thailand, and #7 Sweden. Each country will play two four-ball matches against each of the other three countries in their bracket. At the conclusion of the three days of four-ball competition, the two teams with the most points from each pool and one wild-card team that wins a playoff between third place pool finishers will advance to Sunday Singles.
Recall that the 2014 Crown champion was Team Spain, and that Team USA is the defending champion with their victory in 2016 at the Merit Club. But, having familiarity with the course, and with more than 60,000 supportive fans, Team Korea gains an immense home field advantage.
Added to that is their strong team line-up, and their #1 seeding, thus making Team Korea a heavy favorite to capture the crown. Inbee Park stated “I played a couple weeks in Korea this year and the tournaments were played in the same area that we play the UL International Crown. It was only a KLPGA event, but we got something like 60,000 people for the weekend. It’s just going to be more than that at the UL International Crown!” Teammate I.K. Kim said, “Sometimes it can be home advantage. We’re used to Korean food, so … who doesn’t like Korean food?”
Further details about the scoring and tie-breakers for the UL International Crown, and ticket information and TV schedule can be found at the UL International Crown web site.