LPGA's new innovation put to the test
BY Bruce Young | 24 Jul 2014
A new tournament and a new format will feature on the LPGA Tour this week when the International Crown event is played the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills in Maryland.
The event involves eight four person teams playing in a round robin best ball format over the opening three days before the leading five teams qualify for an 18 hole strokeplay on Sunday.
Those five teams which make it through to the final will be the leading two teams in each pool and one other established via a playoff between the two teams who finished third in each of the Pools.
Sunday’s matches feature singles battles in a stroke-play format, the team with the most points taking the inaugural title.
The teams most likely to do well include the USA (Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson), Korea (Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi and I.K. Kim) and Australian (Karrie Webb, Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright.
Lee is still an amateur but is now Australia’s second highest world ranked player after Karrie Webb and is the leading female amateur in the world.
Wright and Kirk both found form last week when inside the top ten in Canada and the combination might just prove a handful for the more fancied sides.
Australia plays in the same pool as Korea, Sweden and Japan and so just making it to Sunday will be an achievement.
Other countries who will field a team are Spain, Thailand, Sweden, Japan and Chinese Taipei.
The concept has been bandied about for several years now as the LPGA has tried to work out a format that would provide the most accurate representation of the relative strengths of the teams and the most attractive for a world-wide audience.
Whether this is it or not remains to be seen but the need for a departure from the norm is evident for the LPGA Tour and embracing a wider fan base than that for the Solheim Cup might just have some legs.