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Taiwan off to perfect start at LPGA Crown

AFP, CHICAGO

From left, Taiwan’s Cheng Ssu-chia, Teresa Lu, Yani Tseng and Candie Kung celebrate on the 17th green after defeating Australia in the four-ball session of the LPGA International Crown at the Merit Club in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Taiwan stunned Australia with two four-ball triumphs on Thursday to open the LPGA International Crown at the Merit Club in suburban Chicago.

The eight-nation team event saw seedings turned upside down as the top four of the US, Australia, South Korea and Japan managed only one win among them.

In the opening match of the tournament, Taiwan’s Yani Tseng birdied 13 and 15 and Teresa Lu birdied 14 in a 3-and-2 victory over Australian pair Karrie Webb and Su Oh.

In the second match, Kaohsiung-born US player Candie Kung birdied the first and last holes on the back nine for a 2-up win for her and Cheng Ssu-chia over Australians Minjee Lee and Rebecca Artis.

“We were just trying to play our own golf,” Kung was quoted as saying on the LPGA Web site.

“They were making birdies, making eagles, and we were making birdies out there, too. She [Cheng] played awesome today. We just kept it in there,” she said.

Pool B pace-setter England joined Pool A leader Taiwan with a 2-0 start by sweeping the Americans, with Charley Hull finishing eagle-birdie and Holly Clyburn closing with a match-winning birdie.

“Well, I just love playing in this kind of environment, especially when you are a bit of an underdog,” Hull said. “I just like proving people wrong and it just makes you go out there, gives you a little bit more of a buzz.”

Hull, a 20-year-old in her fourth year as a professional, eagled the par-five 16th to put England ahead and birdied the par-four 17th to complete a victory for the world No. 27 and 123rd-ranked Melissa Reid by 2-and-1 over US Olympians Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, both in the world top 15.

“There are seven other teams you’ve got to beat, so it’s not like you’re just playing one team, like it’s just us and Europe,” Piller said. “It’s kind of anyone’s game.”

Clyburn, ranked 114th and No. 92 Jodi Ewart Shadoff never trailed in a 2-and-1 win over fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson and US veteran Cristie Kerr. Shadoff birdied the par-three 14th and Clyburn birdied 17 to seal the victory.

Meanwhile, China split with favored South Korea in Pool A and Thailand had a win and a draw over Japan in Pool B.

South Korea’s Amy Yang birdied four of the first seven holes and she and Chun In-gee held on for a 1-up win over China’s Feng Shanshan and Lin Xiyu.

However, China’s Yan Jing eagled 16 to provide the difference for her and Feng Simin in a 1-up win over Ryu So-yeon and Kim Sei-young.

Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn and Pornanong Phatlum defeated Japan’s Mika Miyazato and Haru Nomura 2-and-1, while Ariya Jutanugarn and Porani Chutichai halved with Japan’s Ai Suzuki and her compatriot Ayaka Watanabe.

The top two teams in each group after three days of four-ball matches plus a wild-card team advance to tomorrow’s concluding singles matches with all points accumulated over four days deciding who captures the Crown.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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